Massage Therapy – Before and After

The metros are filling up with Ayurvedic Massage centres and spas and we city dwellers are making a bee line for a day of pampering or getting a bad back treated. But do we actually know what goes into a proper massage and what are the precautions that we need to take before and after a massage? We can’t just get up and go for a massage one fine day. We need to be aware of several factors before going in for a massage.

There are several factors that we need to keep in mind before we head for a massage at a spa or a beauty parlour, especially where there may not be trained Ayurvedic doctors available.

Dr. Radhika Krishnan, BNYS (Bachelor of Naturopathy and Yogic Sciences), who has worked in various fields of Naturopathy and Yoga since the last five years in Mumbai, Karnataka and Kerala shares some valuable inputs with us.

What does a Massage Therapy consist of:

Massage Therapy comes under Manipulation Therapy that involves movements like rubbing, hacking, fulling, beating, rolling with the use of different mediums for massage such as oil and powder. Massage Oils are selected according to the condition of the patient, if he or she is allergic to oil. “Normally we use coconut oil for a regular massage, but for painful conditions, we switch to mustard oil. For a powder massage normal talcum powder can also be used,” mentions Dr. Radhika. Massage can be given as local i.e. on specific body parts and full body massage. Local massage is taken in painful conditions like arthritis or back pain. However, there are some precautionary measures to be taken before, during and after massage.

Benefits of a Massage:

A massage has several benefits – it not only helps in relieving stress, but it also involves in increasing blood circulation, enhancing the body’s natural self defence, releasing endorphins which act as the body’s natural pain killers and nourishes the skin.

Here is a checklist of things that you need to keep in mind before you head for a massage:

Before a Massage:

1. The massage table should be clean and the masseur should wash his/ her hands before a massage.

2.  Both the masseur and the patient should not have any contagious or infectious diseases.

3. Avoid wearing jewellery, tight clothes to the spa; loose and comfortable clothing with no jewellery is advisable.

4.  “Avoid having a heavy meal before massage; your stomach should be relatively empty as a massage can interfere with your digestion. Having a massage after meal can cause heaviness in the stomach and sometimes even stomach pain, cautions Dr. Radhika.

5. Never consume alcohol or smoke before a massage therapy as it can hamper the process of detoxifying your body.

6. Never undergo a massage therapy if you are suffering from medical conditions like acute Asthma, heart disease and liver complaints, or even flu or fever. “Go for a massage therapy only when you have recovered from your illness, as that would help to get your body system in balance,” mentions Dr. Radhika.

7. Avoid using cosmetics, body sprays or deodorants before the massage as it can clog the pores on your skin as it can cause some reaction with the oil. Always ensure your body is clean before a massage.

8. You should ideally get a massage in a well ventilated and a quiet room where you will be comfortable.

9. You must consult your doctor or your Naturopathic physician before taking massage.

10. You should not have allergy for the medium i.e. oil/ powder. “Usually, most people are not allergic to coconut oil. But certain specific allergies can be known if you inform the spa/ massage centre before hand. If your masseur is using special oils that you are unsure of, ask him/ her to first massage some oil on your forearm and leave it for 10 minutes. If you get a skin allergy, you will get symptoms like itching or reddening of the skin,” adds Dr. Radhika. If you comfortable with a certain massage oil or baby oil, you can carry that oil with you.

11. Proper care should be taken in case of pregnant ladies. “Massage is usually given only on legs and hands and should not be taken in prone position, but they can take a back massage in sitting position, mentions Dr. Radhika.

Now that you have got the checklist done, Dr. Radhika mentions what you need to keep in mind during the massage.

During Massage:

1.  The patient should be relaxed completely.

2. The masseur should give you a massage based on the feedback you provide and on your condition.

3. If you experience any pain or swelling during a massage, please inform your masseur and stop the massage immediately. Dr. Radhika mentions, “Sometimes this can happen immediately due to a massage. If the patient is having pain from before then they should not go for a vigorous massage. ”

3. Breathe slowly and try to relax your mind and body with the massage.

After a Massage:

1. Do not get up as soon as the massage is over. You need to relax for a while and it is okay to doze off while lying on the massage table. When you have to get up from the table, get up slowly, without a sudden movement. Ideally, get up from one side and do it slowly.

2. Your body is tender and supple right after a massage and therefore avoid going under direct sunlight right after a massage. At times, some oils can give an allergic reaction when coming in contact with the sun.

3. As soon as you’re done with a massage, you should be given lemon tea, honey tea to restore your body balance. Make sure, you keep sipping water after your massage.

4. Preferably after a massage, ensure that you have a light meal, no fried and processed food as you will send your body in over drive trying to digest the fatty food.

6. You can go for a steam bath or sauna bath after a massage for a few minutes as the steam will help the pores to open and the essential oils will soak within. Once you take a bath with a body gel, you will find your skin glowing.

People with heart problems should not go for vigorous massage as massage increases the blood pressure which in turn will increase the workload on the heart. So it is advisable to go for partial massages. Also, ensure that you consult a Naturopathic physician before going for massage,” cautions Dr. Radhika.

With inputs from Dr. Radhika Krishnan.

Published in Page Seven, MediaVoice Publication for October 2011 issue.

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