The healing power of touch has been providing pleasure and comfort for centuries. Anyone who has ever experienced a professional massage will be aware of how deeply relaxing massage can be. Many people fall into a blissful sleep during the session and the benefits can last ’til bedtime.
Massage affects the mind and body. The need for touch is instinctive and relates back to childhood. Babies depend on touch for survival and emotional growth. As we grow older, social and cultural conditioning means we may lose the instinct to touch. Stroking, hugging and connecting are instincts that are gradually lost as we become increasingly concerned with the consequences of ‘inappropriate touch’.
Massage can be relaxing, easing the muscles and calming the mind. Or, it can be invigorating, stimulating the muscles and making you feel alert and energised. It helps you become more aware and accepting of your body.
The healing power of massage is used to help people recover from illness. Many athletes and dancers rely on massage to ease tired muscles and prevent injury. The body responds to massage in a number of ways:
- Massage improves blood circulation and lymph flow. It can help reduce inflammation and ease joint pain.
- Muscles relax and can be stretched and flexibility improved.
- Improved blood circulation brings warmth and vitality to all parts of the body.
Massage can create a powerful emotional response as the body and mind relax in a caring environment. Many people feel the mind ‘letting go’ as the body relaxes. The symptoms of stress can be relieved and massage is increasingly recognised for its healing power.
Stress affects the body and the mind. The outward signs of stress include tense muscles and poor posture. When you are feeling stressed and exhausted it is hard to take the steps you know will help – a walk in the park or a visit to the gym. Massage allows you to put yourself in the care of another person and completely relax.
Massage between partners is a sensuous experience, which will help you become more aware of each other’s body and become more attuned of each other’s needs. It is an experience for the masseur and the partner being massaged. If one of you is finding it hard to sleep, a calming massage may help you drift into sleep. The other partner will have to wait for another night…
Massaging and Sleep
Babies respond to gentle massage and become calmer and may even fall asleep. Pregnant women often find it difficult to sleep, especially in the third trimester. Massage will ease the discomfort, help you relax and bond with your baby.
Back and joint pain can also have an impact on sleep, often making it difficult to sleep. Massage can ease the pain and make it easier to drift off.
Massage should be done in a warm room and aromatherapy oils may be used that will help you relax. A massage earlier in the day will prepare you for a good nights sleep. If you have a massage nearer bedtime, try not to break the spell, but make sure that your bedroom is not too warm for a good night’s sleep.
There are many styles of massage. If you are having a professional massage let the therapist know that you want to relax and improve your sleep quality. Chose oils that have relaxing properties such as lavender. Try not to arrange any stimulating activities after your massage to appreciate the benefits.
Self-massage can become part of your nighttime routine. A relaxing warm bath, followed by a soothing massage of your body and face will leave you feeling calm. Allow the body to cool down before trying to go to sleep and try to incorporate some gentle stretching and slow breathing before slipping between the sheets.