Not that long ago, if you wanted to get a high-quality massage, you had to head to a spendy spa or health club. But now, finding a place to get a great massage is extremely easy—there are entire businesses devoted to massages, as well as in medical facilities, and even at some shopping centers.
Most of us know that massage involves having a knowledgeable massage therapist push on muscles and manipulate your skin in certain areas to help relieve pain and built-up tension, but it literally and figuratively goes much deeper than that.
According to MayoClinic.com, massage is a term for rubbing, manipulating, and pressing your skin, tendons, muscles, and ligaments. While massage therapists typically use their hands and fingers to do a lot of the work, some will also use their forearms, elbows, and feet. I once had a massage therapist push down with her elbow on areas of my back and it seemed to be a great way for her to exert more pressure on certain muscles. The massage that you get will probably include both lighter pressure and harder, more firm strokes. A lot of times, essential oils or lotions will be used as it reduces friction and makes it easier and more comfortable for everyone involved.
All massages are not created equal. Common types are Swedish massage, which tends to be a gentle form of massage that uses circular movements and even vibration and tapping, deep-tissue massage, which involves slower, more intense pressure and strokes to get to the deeper muscles and connective tissues (if you are getting a massage to help with an injury, this is probably the kind you will get), sports massage, which is sort of like Swedish massage but is more specialized towards people who do a lot of sports as a way to either treat or ward off injuries, and trigger point massage, which focuses on the body’s sensitive areas that can form in muscles after they are overused or hurt.
Most massages last from about an hour to 90 minutes. You’ve probably also seen massage chairs at the mall that offer 10-minute speed massages. Massage is generally safe, but having said that, it is important to be sure you are getting one from a trained massage therapist.