30th September 2014

Paying a visit to a massage therapist can help a number of conditions and ailments, and could be the ideal solution if you are suffering from discomfort or pain.

What is it?
Massage therapy is a practice that can be dated back thousands of years to civilisations such as the ancient Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Egyptian and Greek. It has became widely used in Europe during the Renaissance period and has become a valuable therapy for people across the world. Although medical advancements have seen its popularity waver, the technique has seen an upsurge recently - especially in athletes or sports professionals.

The term encompasses many different techniques, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage and sports massage. Generally, this will involve a therapist pressing, rubbing or helping to move muscles and other soft tissues of the body. They most often use their hands and fingers, but may use their forearms, elbows, or feet.

Millions of people use massage therapy every year and it can help provide relief or even permanently cure muscle discomfort or pain.

Will I benefit?
As massage therapy is such a versatile treatment, it can help a wide range of conditions. If you think this treatment could help you, it's best to speak to your GP about it first to make sure there are no underlying causes that could have an impact on your health.

Most commonly, massage therapists are seen to deal with stress, relieve muscle pain or  rehabilitate sports injuries, increase relaxation or to even target anxiety and depression. The practice can also help aid general wellness and many people use it simply to perk them up every now and then.

Massage therapy is becoming increasingly popular with athletes and sports professionals as it can help speed up their recovery and help their muscles repair. This can help them get back on their feet and return to their job in a much quicker time.

However, the practice is not just reserved for professional footballers and sportsmen. More and more office workers are having a session or two with a massage therapist as it can help relieve the aches and pains of daily life. With millions of people now working in an office, it is common for them to suffer from back ache or pain, which is often a result of bad posture or sitting down too long at a desk. Massage therapy can help to work areas of pain or discomfort, as well as helping and encouraging patients to maintain good position throughout the day.

What happens during a session?
Massage therapists can work in a number of environments from their own clinics, to hospitals and sport and fitness facilities. Some practitioners will also be happy to travel to a person's home or place of work. However, it is important for the patient to have a calm and relaxing environment so getting out of home or work can be beneficial.

New patients will probably be asked about their symptoms, medical history, and what they want to see from the sessions. The massage therapist may also perform their own examination to see how tender, tense or sore areas are to help them determine what level of pressure to apply.

A patient will be asked to wear loose-fitting clothing or be undressed and covered with a sheet and then lay on a table. Oil or lotion may also be used on the skin to reduce friction, and duration of sessions can vary.