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Massage in the UK

Massage is one of the oldest forms of healing. The first books written on massage were found in China, dated around the 2nd century BC. Massage is one of the most natural and universal ways to soothe pain and convey a sense of caring.

There are many styles of massage that utilize different techniques. Some may focus on releasing tension in muscles, restoring function of the connective tissue or increasing lymphatic drainage.

Some massage therapies incorporate work on the whole body while others will treat specific areas. Massage is generally a very relaxing treatment with a strong psychotherapeutic effect.

Some popular styles of massage are:

Swedish massage
Deep tissue massage
Sports massage
Remedial massage
Manual lymphatic drainage
Prenatal massage
Baby massage,
Hot stone therapy

Eastern massage techniques include:

Chivutti Thirimal
Thai massage


What can you expect from a massage session?

Massage is a pleasant, relaxing experience. Most massage therapies are performed directly on the skin. Oils, lotions or creams are used to reduce friction and assist a smooth application of techniques.

Specific oils can be chosen to help your condition and as in aromatherapy, the oils are an integral part of the therapeutic effect of the massage.

Some massage therapies use deep pressure to reach the underlying structures of the body or friction work to treat injuries and knotted muscle fibers. These techniques can feel strong but the practitioner will always adjust the treatment to within your comfort limits. You may experience aching after your treatment. Aching is usually a sign that toxins and lactic acid are being released from the muscles and can occur if there is a lot of muscular tension and if the receiver has a sedentary lifestyle. This should subside within a few days.

Some massage therapies, such as Tuina and Thai massage do not use lubricants and apply techniques through the clothes.

Questions about what a massage session involves

Do I need to buy any equipment?


What to wear

If oils are used, clothing will have to be removed. Your practitioner should respect your modesty by leaving the room while you undress and cover areas of the body not being worked on with towels or a sheet.

How long is a session?

Depending on the type of massage, between 30 to 90 minutes.

What is expected of clients?

In most massage therapies you just have to lay on a massage couch and enjoy the treatment. Some therapies may require you to be more active in the treatment, for example, move into certain positions or give resistance against pressure. You may be given exercises or stretches to do between treatments.
You should not eat or drink alcohol at least 2 hours prior to treatment. It is beneficial to drink plenty of water afterwards to assist in the removal of toxins from the muscles.

Average costs / fees per session

£ 50 for 1 hour. Prices will vary depending on length of session, experience and location. Expect to pay around £85 in hotels or spas.

What are the main Qualifications a practitioner should have?

Practitioners should be registered with The General Council of Massage Therapy or one of its member professional associations. The General Council of Massage is in the process of self-regulation and its members training meet the national occupation standards.

The General Council of Massage Therapy

What can massage treat?

Not enough clinical trials have been done on massage and only a few have determined the efficacy of massage from a biomedical viewpoint.

As with a lot of complementary and alternative therapies, there are fundamental problems applying biomedical research methods to prove the effects of massage. Most of these trials have focused on the psychophysiological aspects of massage but a few have shown benefits for specific physical ailments.

Positive results have been shown in the areas of:

Infant massage
Enhanced immunity in cancer patients
Osteoarthritis of the knee
Pain reduction
Reduction of stress hormones
Anxiety and depression
Reduction of blood pressure and heart rate

Massage has also been known to help:

Other skeletal problems
Reduce muscular tension
Correct postural problems
Mobility of the joints
Soft tissue injuries
Remove metabolic waste
Aid digestion
Improve sleep
Reduce mental and emotional tension
Improve lymphatic circulation
Physical and emotional problems related to stress

For research articles on massage try PubMed.

The Touch Research Institute has a list of studies showing the positive effects of massage.

The on line Massage Magazine also has articles on research into massage.

The Massage Therapy Foundation has a research database. You need to register to have access.



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