Massage therapist’s guide to DIY massage
Three simple massage therapy techniques you can do in the comfort of your own home.
Massage therapy is the most in-demand complementary therapy in Australia. Two out of three Australians use some kind of complementary medicine or therapy, and about 20 per cent of those see a massage therapist, according to the 2019 Complementary Health Industry Skills Forecast.
As massage therapy has grown in popularity, there’s increasing evidence to support its benefits, says Leah Dow, One Spa manager at RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort. “Massage helps to reduce stress, promotes muscle relaxation and improves blood circulation to promote healing.”
As well as easing pain in the lower back, neck and shoulders, US studies have linked massage therapy to helping to manage headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. One University of Alabama at Birmingham study linked massage to lower blood pressure, fewer common colds and a healthier complexion.
And the potential benefits go beyond the physical. Massage can also be used to help people experiencing anxiety, perhaps because it helps release oxytocin – one of the brain’s ‘feel good’ hormones. Some studies indicate that massage can also help people dealing with depression and stress.
“We are wired for touch from birth,” explains Jenny Richardson of the Association of Massage Therapists. “People usually seek out massage because they have some kind of pain and discomfort, like an injured back or because they are feeling stiff after sitting at a desk all day. But it can also help people feel better when they are stressed and tense in their daily life.”
In an ideal world, says One Spa’s Leah Dow, people should have regular massage sessions at least every couple of months to fine-tune the body – especially if you’re experiencing high levels of stress. But if you can’t make it to see a qualified massage professional, Leah suggests creating “the same sort of relaxation ambience at home by burning your favourite candle or essential oil and do some regular light stretching to increase blood flow to your muscles, improve your posture and prevent back pain.”