Massages for Overall Wellness and Health

IMG_7421Massages are a rhythmic soothing pressure that kneads the body’s muscles, tendons and ligaments. The process of rubbing the body actually assists with improving circulation to the areas being massaged. Circulation is very important as it improves the blood flow to the massage areas, allowing for the red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s organs. This helps provide the body with the oxygen rich blood they need to heal and ultimately improves the body’s overall energy as the circulation becomes more efficient and effective. The blood not only carries nutrients to the skin cells, but also carries away wastes like damaging free radicals away from the skin cells. It also encourages lymphatic drainage to flush out toxins to allow nutrients to travel through. It also helps reduce inflammation, which can cause cellular damage particularly as we age.

Massages can also release pressure in the tissues to allow lactic acid to be cleared from the muscles. Lactic acid can build up in the muscles when muscles are overused in strenuous exercises. The lactic acid increases the acidity in the muscle. This helps with muscle pain and tight overused muscles. Another benefit of massages is that it naturally lowers blood pressure and the overall body functions.

Massages are perfect for anyone attempting to reduce muscle tension, stress and pain. Massages can help with relieving anxiety, digestive disorders, premenstrual syndrome, fibromyalgia, migraines, headaches, arthritis, nausea, fatigue, depression, insomnia, stressed muscles and sports injuries. Massages are also very important since circulation deteriorates as we age. Poor circulation can lead to cold hands and feet, muscle cramps, aching legs, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. Just recently studies have linked stress and the skin’s sebaceous glands which can overact in stressful occasions and produce too oil in the skin.

Facial massages are essential in providing all of the above benefits to just the face. Even make up artist apply a light facial massage before they apply their art. Even lightly stroking the face in an upward motion (gravity does enough damage already), the circulation is increased to stimulate a wound healing response along with a healthy glow to any complexion. The skin will be noticeably plump with nourished vitality. It also helps soften expression lines around the eyes, forehead and lips. However it’s important to massage once a generous amount of a moisturizing product has been applied like an oil, serum, gel or cream. This allows the upper layer of skin to not be affected by the strokes or pressure.

Massage Oils:

Natural oils contain different benefits and help with specific conditions. Many have several vitamins, minerals and moisture beneficial ingredients. Massage oils are usually a mixture of part base or carrier oils made normally made from vegetables yet derived from the fatty plant portions (like nuts or seeds) while essential oils are from the non-fatty portions of the plant (like stems, leaves or flowers). Carrier oils are used for volume while essential oils are more concentrated and tend to be more unique potent and much more sensitive specific. Carrier oils also have little aroma while essential oils have intense aromas. Be sure to test oils on your skin prior to usage as some people develop allergies. Place a small amount on the inner arm area and leave on to see if allergies develop, some can take minutes but usually overnight can provide a better understanding of the skin’s reaction. When you are ready to make your own massage oil with both carrier and essential oils, you’ll need 4 teaspoons of carrier oil with 4 to 5 drops of essential oils.

CARRIER OILS for massage

  • Olive Oil – Olive Oil is rich bold oil that contains vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and iron. It helps to alleviate the body of stiffness and is said to be suitable for all skin types. However it is a very thick oil that even once massaged into the skin still has a significant outer layer that is great for sealing in moisture but can also be found to get on anything the body may touch like clothing. This is also high in Oleic Acid that is known to help alleviate dry skin as it’s a monosaturated fatty acid but also helps to reduce inflammation.
  • Jojoba Oil – On the molecular level, this oil is most similar to the skin’s natural sebum. It absorbs well and conditions the skin thoroughly.
  • Sweet Almond Oil – This is oil is high in fatty acids to soften, soothe and recondition skin.
  • Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 12.32.08 PMAvocado Oil– This oil contains high amounts of Vitamin A, B1, B2, D and E along with amino acids, sterols (soften skin, reduces age spots), pantothenic acid, lecithin (an emollient and deeply absorbed) and other fatty acids. This oil deeply absorbed and works well sensitive skins, especially those with eczema and psoriasis skin. It is also known to increase collagen production and healing of the skin. This oil contains high amounts of Oleic acid for alleviating dry skin.
  • Grapeseed Oil – This is another great oil for sensitive skin and tends to not leave a greasy feeling afterwards. It contains a high amount of linoleic acid that helps with oily skin conditions.
  • Sunflower Oil – This oil contains Vitamins A, D and E as well as both Oleic acids (high emollient for dry skin) and Lecithin (an emollient for oily skin). It deeply moisturizes the skin for very dry, weathered or damaged skin.
  • Coconut Oil – This oil helps with inflamed or irritated sensitive skin. It is great for providing a protective layer for retaining moisture within the skin.
  • Soybean 0il – This oil is light and great for sensitive skin as it’s helpful in healing. It contains Vitamin E, lecithin (an emollient and deeply absorbed) and sterolins (soften skin, reduces age spots).
  • Peanut Oil – Although this oil can be highly allergic to those with nut allergies, it’s super beneficial to those with arthritis or weakening conditions as it provides proteins to the muscle and joints to help with healing. It’s helps sooth the nerves and muscular structures.
  • Wheat Germ Oil – This oil is for skin that needs to be deeply conditioned for very dry, weathered, damaged and advanced aging skins. It contains a high amount of linoleic acid that helps with oily skin conditions.

ESSENTIAL OILS for massage and aromatherapy

  • Lavender, Jasmine Oils – For relaxation
  • Roman Chamomile Oil– For relaxation
  • Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Mandarin, Lime, Bergamot & Neroli Oils – For lifting the mood
  • Peppermint, Tea Tree, Frankincense, Sandalwood & Eucalyptus Oils – For Sinus Congestions
  • Rosemary, Margoram, Ginger Oils– For circulation and healing
  • Tea Tree Oil – For detoxifying or for inflamed or skin itching conditions, like scalp and foot treatments.
  • Arnica Oil – For bruised skins, arthritis conditions
  • Clary Sage & Geranium Oils – For PMS
  • Fennel Oil – Ancient Egyptians used this oil to help with circulatory, digestive, respiratory and glandular conditions

Massage Techniques:

  • Effleurage – Effleurage comes from the French word ‘effleurer’, which means to ‘to stroke or skim over.’ This technique is a slow and smooth linking movement using the flat part of the hands while the masseuse maintains contact with the skin through out the massage. A small and even amount of pressure is applied within the palm of the hand with more pressure applied with movements toward the heart (for the purpose of assisting with proper circulation) and less pressure when returning back to repeat the sequence. Effleurage is the most basic massage technique and can stimulate the nerves, stimulate blood flow within the skin tissues and relaxes the muscle fibers.
  • Tapotement or Percussion – These techniques are utilized within cupping, hacking, tapping type massages. The application is applied to the fleshy parts of the body with rapid short movements for a short period of time. It helps to stimulate the muscle and skin.
  • Friction – There are two types of friction massages, one is to utilize circular movement while the other is a transverse movement. They are traditionally used for precise movements to focus on a particular area.   The circular movement is applied using the tips of the fingers using average pressure in a circular stationary manner. Sequencing the circles in small areas for at least three times before moving to another adjacent area. The transverse movement is also used by the tips of the fingers but with a more precisely with two fingers together to move back and forth only the muscles. Neither of these movements should be used when the muscles are recently strained or if there is any scar tissue on the muscles. They should be utilized only for short periods of time.
  • Pressure Point or Acupressure -This is used technique has be used for centuries in ancient China and utilizes the same principle points as acupuncture to promote proper circulation, relaxation and overall health and wellness. These points flow along the body’s meridians or channels and are targeted to heal or alleviate strains in a particular area of the body. There is thought to be 12 major meridians to connect with organs to restore balance or maintain the body’s ‘Chi.’ It is traditionally thought by Chinese Medicine that the body maintains a balance of yang (positive) and yin (negative) energies. The benefits of the massage can help alleviate pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, fatigue, mood, arthritis and even improve metabolism.

Types of Self-Massages:

  • Facial Massage – This massage may be performed on oneself by turning the hands with palms facing the face. Start with utilizing an oil, serum, cream or gel over the entire face. A massage where quick lightly upward strokes along the neck and cheeks. For the neck, gently tilt the head back and stroke upwards on the neck. Hold briefly at the top of the neck and then return to another area of the lower neck. Repeat until the neck has been fully massaged. For the checks, return the face forward with no tilt, begin at the base of the face and apply pressure upwards and stopping briefly at the top of the check bone (never in the eye area). Apply pressure with the middle figure at the inner corners of the eyes. Circle the finger around the eyes towards the inner brow and follow through more gently under the eye.   Do this at least three times. With the fingers, lift and hold both brows upward as if you are opening the eye area. For the forehead, start in the center between the eyes with both middle fingers and press upward in elongated circles, with much less pressure as the fingers more downward. Move the circles in motion towards the temples. Then move in the opposite direction back towards the starting position between the browse. Always apply more pressure upward and much less downward. The massage should be maintained in the upward movement while light if any pressure on the downward movement. For the lips, gently pinch the lip area with the thumb and index finger. Never pull the skin as the massage should be working the under layers of the skin while not affecting the condition of the top layers. Finish by applying light pressure to the temples with the middle and pointing fingers. Hold for 5 seconds and then rub the hands together briskly and hold on the face steady with light pressure for 5 seconds.
  • Facial Pressure Point or Acupressure – Hold each pressure point with an index finger or even two fingers that include the index finger along the following points for 2 to 3 minutes per day:
  1. To relieve stress affecting the skin: at the base of the hairline, center both the index fingers one inch apart.
  2. Reduce overall stress and stimulates the pituitary gland (which helps regulate hormones), place an index finger between the eyebrows at the third eye point.
  3. To reduce blemishes, place both index fingers just below the eye area near the cheekbone on both sides of the face.
  • Head and Scalp Massage – Start with at least 2 ounces of oil and gently warm it so that it’s not hot but luke warm. Pour a small amount into the palm and rub gently between your hands. Begin the massage on the scalp and use all fingers while cupping the hand so that the fingertips are pressing along the hairline between the temples and the upper forehead. Move the hand in sync with the fingers in a circulation motion. Start at the front of the head and then each side and lower back portion of the head. Then move up to the crown and work around the crown area. Finish with applying pressure to left and right of the crown with each hand lightly for 5 seconds. Massage the oil into the scalp will prevent headaches and induce hair follicle growth.
  • Body & Stretch Massage – It’s best to do this massage while sitting in a chair, with proper posture. Try to keep the hands always connected to the body. If you need additional oil, add more and continue the massage. If performed before bedtime, the massage will allow for a more restful sleep.
  1. Take 5 ounces of oil and warm it, make sure it’s not hot but just warm enough to feel luke warm. Gently rub the oil between both hands and begin at the neck, utilize one hand to hold the head (and hair) at the base, while the other hand uses it’s four fingers to press small circles along the spiral cord area. Be very gentle on the neck area.
  2. Cross the hand to rub the shoulders, in medium circular motions.
  3. After the shoulders, cross the arms again and rub upwards towards the sides of the neck and reaching to the back towards the shoulder blades. This is an area where stress is stored, so be gently and become firmer only if it feels appropriate. Move the massage back and forth across the shoulder blades.
  4. Then cross the arms again the massage down the arms in a circular grabbing motion. Move the massage down to the hands and handshake the hands in a rubbing motion, never letting the hands separate. Even link the fingers together and then move the hands together in opposite directions. Then proceed back up through the arms in the grabbing circular motion.
  5. Take the hands and gently press down the sides of the body, with thumbs toward the front and the four fingers towards the back of the body. With slightly more pressure, push downward in medium circles along the slides of the back towards the tailbone. Once the hands are both behind the back, press down with the palms on either side of the tailbone. Then slightly arch the back to a comfortable point while lifting the chest outwards with the elbows pointing directly behind.
  6. Move onwards to the buttocks to perform small circles at the base of the buttocks and lift with slight pressure upwards. Move the massage along to make the entire area is massaged.
  7. Then take both hands to the right thigh area and massage both sides of the thigh and the back in circular grabbing motions. Without bending down, continue down to the calf area and foot by lifting the leg bent in front of the body. The foot can be crossed so that the ankle is resting on the left leg’s knee for better positioning. Massage from the ankle in small circular motions and move with the thumbs on the bottom of the foot and fingers on top of the foot. Be sure to massage small circles with each of the toes.
  8. Once finished with the right leg, begin the same massages on the left leg but start with the toes and move upwards towards the thigh.
  9. Afterwards bow the head and hug the body. End in pray pose for reflection.
  • Garshan Massage – This massage can be performed on yourself in the morning using pure linen or silk mittens. It’s a traditional Ayurveda dry massage utilizing no oils or moisturizers. It stimulates the skin and they lymphatic system as well as the circulator system. It helps the skin to release toxins, so it’s best to bathe afterwards to remove any release toxins. Use the gloves to in long strokes on the limbs with strokes towards the heart and round strokes on the joints. On the torso, you can use round strokes but it’s best to avoid the heart area. This is very helpful to exfoliate and prepare the skin for an oil massage but should be finished with a moisturizer.

Types of Massages from Professional Massage Therapists:

  • Swedish Massage – This is the gentlest type of massage that incorporates long strokes in circle movements to relax the muscles. It includes light to medium pressure to relieve stress, reduce pain and boost mood and energy afterwards.
  • Deep Tissue Massage – This massage is focused on the muscles using slower and deeper strokes to get into the muscle’s connective tissue. It can assist with knots, muscle damage and repair. It can be painful and can result in soreness for one to two days afterwards.
  • Sports Massage – This is helpful for athletics to help loosen tight muscles and prevent/treat injuries. This massage may focus on particular areas utilized in the sport. It usually is a Swedish massage with faster strokes and stretching to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.
  • Trigger Point Massage – This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form after injuries or overuse. It helps to alleviate pain in the muscle through a sequence of isolate pressures and release cycles. This massage can be helpful with those with a chronic pain. The recipient also participates through proper breathing to coordinate with the pressure point cycles.
  • Hot Stone Massage – This massage includes specific placements of hot stones on the pressure points of the body to promote deeper muscle relaxation. It is helpful to increase circulation, metabolism as well as stress. The massage therapist may also hold the hot stones to apply pressure and guide them along the muscles for greater muscle relaxation.
  • Shiatsu Massage – This is a Japanese massage that utilizes finger pressure for a few seconds in a rhythmic sequence along the energy meridians (similar to acupressure and acupuncture). This massage is helpful for normalized body vitality and relaxation.
  • Lymphatic Massage – This massage was developed in Germany to treat accumulations of fluid to helps drain the lymph nodes. The massage focuses on the lymphatic system channels. It’s a very gentle stimulating massage that assists with encouraging natural drainage of the lymph nodes. The purpose is to assist with carrying away waste products away from the tissues and back towards the heart for proper dissimulation. This is also a helpful massage to help heal and repair of body various conditions.
  • Pregnancy or Prenatal Massage – This is specific to those expecting mothers who want a massage and to know that the therapist utilizes the proper way to position and support the body during this special time. It is used to reduce stress, anxiety and depression while helping to decrease aches and swells.
  • Cupping Massage – This method was used by Ancient Chinese to create a vacuum suction with negative pressure to the body. The treatment area is lightly oiled to help facilitate the pressure to the skin. The vacuum suction process includes lighting cotton ball soaked in alcohol and placing a glass cup under the cotton ball, then moving it to the treatment area of the body, inverting the cup and place it on the treatment area just before the cotton ball is removed. It is used to drain excess fluids and toxins, bring circulation and blood flow to the area, rebalance the nervous system and relieve muscle tension. The cup can also be moved along the energy levels which is sometimes referred to as ‘flashing.’ This treatment is effective for treating cellulite and stubborn muscle cramps.
  • Reflexology Massage – This massage applies pressure to specific point on the hands and feet to relieve stress and specific body conditions. Each pressure point aligns with a body organ and system.
  • Aromatherapy Massage – This massage incorporate the use of essential oils (see above area for list of essential oil benefits) to assist with specific body and skin conditions.
  • Thai Massage – Similar to Shiatsu, the massage focuses on the energy points but not through traditional massage techniques. Thai massage incorporate body movements similar to yoga however without doing any of the work. It improves flexibility and reduces stress.
  • Indian Head Massage – This is a traditional massage in Indian and given at barbers and hair salon before the hair is serviced. It’s given while fully clothes and focuses on massaging the upper back along the shoulder blades, arms, neck and more intensive in the head and scalp. It’s finished with a very gently massage of the face utilizing the pressure point techniques.

Massages are an essential beauty ritual as it not only calms the mind, body and spirit but it also improves circulation, heals and creates renewed vitality. They can be performed professionally or individually but both should be performed with honoring the body.

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