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What is Holistic Massage?
Holistic Massage is based on Swedish Massage and includes all the same basic techniques – effleurage, petrissage and tapotement (stroking, wringing and percussion), as well as friction and vibration. As the name suggests, however, Holistic Massage addresses the person as a whole, encompassing physical, mental, spiritual and energetic aspects of the human body, and therefore incorporates a range of other styles and techniques, in order to tailor the massage to the needs of the individual – your needs.
Your physical body comprises the bony skeleton; muscles; connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, skin and mucous membranes); organs, such as the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys; brain and nervous system; endocrine system (which regulates temperature, hormones and other important factors); the lymphatic and immune systems. These systems are all interdependent and any disturbance, in any one of them, can cause symptoms which seem unconnected. Your body stores memories of trauma, injury and upset as tension.
The ache in your shoulder may be caused by posture, nervous tension, trauma or injury in another area. When you have a viral infection, you are likely to feel hot and sweaty, or cold, shaky and achy. If your thyroid is not functioning correctly, you may also feel hot and cold, have mood swings, plantar fasciitis, or painful joints, and feel very tired. You may have one complaint today and something different next week, so the connection between the various signs and symptoms may not be obvious, which is why it can take a long time to get a correct diagnosis.
Equally, the non-physical aspects can have an impact on your health: anger, frustration, stress, anxiety and fear trigger the release of stress hormones, which prevent the body from relaxing. Long term, this can cause significant problems, such as adrenal fatigue, burnout and depression.
The aim of Holistic Massage is to reconnect and reintegrate the different aspects of your being and restore balance, by stimulating your body's own regulatory systems through relaxation.
As a Holistic Massage Practitioner, I do not diagnose or treat any specific conditions or disorders and Holistic Massage is not a substitute for appropriate medical advice. If I do not think massage will be helpful, I will refer you to a doctor or alternative specialist. The purpose of the massage is to provide relaxation and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system – the part which controls rest, digestion and recovery.
What else might be included in Holistic Massage?
Holistic Massage may also include breathing techniques, relaxation scripts, meditation and energy work, focusing on the chakras, meridians and acupressure points, but the choice is always yours and I will not do anything with which you feel uncomfortable. If I intend to use any of these, I will ask for your consent.
You may be familiar with the idea that all energy is related to frequency, vibration or oscillation, and some therapists therefore use crystals, Tibetan or crystal bowls, gongs and other forms of energy work. I do not currently offer Holistic Ritual Massage.
What can Holistic Massage do for me?
Stimulating the nerve receptors in soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues) switches the body from the state of alertness and vigilance (fight or flight) to relaxation (rest and recovery). This is a physiological change which can have a significant beneficial effect on pain, nervous tension and mood: it can promote the production of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin (feelgood hormones) and inhibit the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones).
These changes, as well as the physical release of muscular tension through the mechanical effects of massage, can help relieve the symptoms associated with a wide range of conditions, including back, neck and shoulder pain, tennis elbow, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions, allergies, respiratory and digestive problems.
As with other forms of massage, the benefits are numerous, including:
- Improved circulation
- Reduced nervous tension
- Improved mobility and flexibility
- Stress reduction
- Empathy and respect through touch
- Revealing stored energy/emotion
Other benefits of Holistic Massage include:
- Individualised treatment
- Guidance and empowerment
- Proactive self-care
- Control and autonomy
Massage has been shown to improve posture, mood and outlook, increase lymphatic drainage, and relieve or reduce aches and pains. By the end of a session, you should feel relaxed, at ease and lighter in your body.
Who can benefit from Holistic Massage?
Holistic Massage is safe for people of all ages, body types and levels of fitness. It can help with trauma, injury, restricted movement and the symptoms of a whole range of medical conditions, and it can be beneficial for people with depression.
There are certain conditions for which massage is contra-indicated, such as recent deep vein thrombosis (DVT), heart attack and stroke, severe haemophilia, meningitis, infections and certain skin conditions. Please ensure that you leave adequate time to digest (at least two hours), before you come for a massage and avoid alcohol or other intoxicants.
What is the massage treatment like?
Holistic Massage is normally performed on a massage couch. Oil (sweet almond or grapeseed) or wax is used to reduce friction. You will need to undress, down to your underwear, but will be fully covered with towels over all areas, except those being worked on at the time. Respect and dignity are an essential component of Holistic Massage.
I work intuitively, which means that I tune in to where you are: I sense your tension and apply the techniques which I believe will be most appropriate. Thus, each massage will be different: although I generally follow a basic sequence (back, shoulders, hips, legs and feet, abdomen, arms, head and neck), no two treatments will be the same. Your body will tell me where to spend more time and what to focus on. If there are any areas you would like me to avoid, please let me know or stop me at any time. It's your time and you are in control.
Does it hurt?
Depending on what brings you to me (aches and pains, trauma, injury or an underlying medical condition), there may be some discomfort, but you are in control: tell me, at any time during the session, if you feel pain, discomfort, unease or embarrassment, and I will adjust to your needs.
Generally, you should feel lighter and more relaxed by the end of the massage, and any aches and pains should ease off. I will not deliberately cause any pain.
How long is a treatment?
For an initial consultation, including treatment, please allow 60 minutes. The consultation will help me to understand your needs and to identify any conditions which may need medical or other treatment. Follow-up sessions can be anything from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on your time constraints and what type of massage you would like.