Massage is the answer to what ails you
December 28, 2007 Tahoe Daily Tribune
I just had the best night's sleep I've had in years - 7.5 hours of uninterrupted bliss; my skin is smooth, and my muscles are quiet. I have a sense of peace, feel lighter on my feet and clearer in my head.
A massage with a caring professional therapist is priceless. If you've never experienced the delight of getting the tension in your neck, jaw or shoulders relieved, it's time. If you've just had an exhilarating day on the slopes, it's time. Your body will thank you tomorrow.
Here are a few of the most popular types of massage:
This is the most common type of massage therapy in the United States. Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil. Swedish massage usually is very gentle and relaxing. If you've never had a massage before, this is a good one to try first.
Aromatherapy is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific needs. The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing or have some other benefit. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender. Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component.
One of my favorites. Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot-stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.
It's that good hurt, like after a good workout. Deep-tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle. Deep-tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems or recovery from injury.
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. Each point is held for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance.
Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman's body during the massage and how to modify techniques. Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and reduce anxiety and depression. Make sure you go to someone who is trained in this technique, because there are pressure points that must be avoided in prenatal massage so that labor is not induced.
Ah, the ecstasy. Although reflexology sometimes is called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet.
Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don't have to be a professional athlete to have one. It's also used by people who are active and work out often. The focus is on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance. A combination of techniques is used. The strokes generally are faster than Swedish massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility. This is good before or after an athletic event.
When I first moved to this resort town, I was amazed by how many massage therapists live here. I used to joke that there are two therapists for each tourist. The trick is to know who to go to.
The independents in town all charge about the same, while the casino-hotels are pricier. Some therapists will even come to you. Find one who specializes in your specific needs. I go to Kae at A Massage at Tahoe because she is really, really good at deep-tissue and sports massage. My body takes a beating in weightlifting, Pilates and kickboxing. A good weekly massage is a not only a treat, but also a requirement for my occupation.
You go to doctors, dentists and hairstylists for routine maintenance. Consider finding a good local massage therapist for routine maintenance of the body, mind and soul.
If you want to learn how to do massage, longtime local therapist Rosemary Manning teaches a class at Lake Tahoe Community College that begins Jan. 10. Through Barton University, she will be teaching a three-session infant-massage class starting Jan. 7.
Get a massage or learn how to give one:
A Massage at Tahoe: www.MassageAtTahoe.com, (530) 318-4806
Barton University: http://education.bartonhealth.org/
Lake Tahoe Community College: www.ltcc.edu
-- Rhonda Beckham is a nationally certified personal trainer with teaching certificates in Pilates and kickboxing.
Help Me Rhonda
Rhonda Beckham is owner of Help Me Rhonda and Perfect Pilates, a Pilates instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College and Sierra Athletic Club, as well as a personal trainer operating out of Sierra Athletic Club and the Tahoe Keys Marina Fitness Studio. She may be reached at (530) 208-6369, www.tahoetrainer.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.