The therapeutic art of massage

There are many forms and techniques of massage. All of them provide
relaxation and most also have therapeutic benefits so it is useful to know when
you are going for a massage what you want from it. The Da Vinci Centre offers a
range of different types of massage and they also provide “mini” massages that
can be carried out in half an hour if you just want to sample all the different
types or have not enough time for a full massage.

Indian head massage

The Indian head massage is a
particularly good example of a massage that can be done in half an hour. The
massage concentrates on the head and shoulders area with no oils, you remain
fully dressed and it is done sitting in a chair. Reflexologist Beverly Edgington
says that she has had people fall asleep in the chair while she does it. She
massages the shoulders, neck and upper arms, as she massages the neck she
gently tilts it as she works. She then moves onto the scalp and she says she covers
every centimetre and I believe her. She uses small rocking movements and she
tells me that she has had people cry through a session as it can release
dormant motions. She then massages the muscles on the face and rubs acupuncture
points on the ears. The Indian massage is particularly effective for people who
are stressed and have neck and shoulder tension but also benefits the less
mobile who might have difficulty getting on and off a massage table.

Aromatherapy

Beverly also offers an aromatherapy
massage. Some of us might know that throwing lavender in the bath relaxes but
Beverly uses over 58 different types of organic oils, each with different
healing properties both physical and emotional. Beverly has a science degree
and she tells me how for her thesis she looked at how our emotions are affected
by aromas. If you recreate smells which people associate with happy memories
then it reduces stress levels. Because essential oils are powerful, before
treating people Beverly needs to know people’s background health and emotional
problems as oils can affect them. For instance peppermint should never be used
on someone who has epilepsy or rosemary on someone who is pregnant as it can
stimulate the uterus. Oils can also help with emotional problems; an example
would be using frankincense for someone who is suffering from grief.

What makes Beverly’s aromatherapy
massage different is that she makes up a personal prescription for each client
for how they are feeling on that particular day and what they want out of the
massage. I tell her about a particular association I have and Beverly sets
about trying to approximate the smell. This is fun as she lets me smell
different mixture and asks do I want it more floral, woody etc. We eventually
hit on a mixture I like consisting of sandalwood, cedar wood, mandarin and
chamomile. The massage technique is not a deep tissue massage, this is more
about getting the lymph and circulation system working and letting the oils do
their work. It is very calming and relaxing.

Hot Stones

Hot stone massage is a speciality
massage that uses smooth, heated stones. The stones are heated in water before
being placed along the parts of the body which are associated with the flow of
energy. This time my therapist is Keri Goldinger and she explains that the point
of using the stones is that the heat relaxes the muscles; helps stimulate
circulation and therefore allows a deeper massage. The stones themselves are
smooth and come in all sizes, even ones small enough to fit between the toes.
Keri starts by doing a brief Swedish massage around the shoulders and neck
area. The stones are then placed in succession under the shoulders and the
spine. Keri then starts using the stones to massage. She uses a gliding
movement over the muscles with a gentle pressure. As she moves down the arms
using the stones she places one in each hand and they are surprisingly
comforting to hold. She also places pebbles between the toes which sounds uncomfortable
but I soon forget they are there. She massages the soles of the feet with a smooth
stone which feels marvellous. The whole massage takes about an hour and leaves
me feeling totally relaxed. Because of the soothing quality of the heated
stones this type of massage is good for people who might have aches and pains
and are nervous of too deep a massage. It is also good for those with poor
circulation and any type of arthritis pain. It also is just lovely if you want
a nice relaxing experience.

Other massages that Da Vinci offers
are traditional Swedish massage, a sports and deep tissue massage or Tui nan, a
form of Chinese massage which works on the same principles as acupuncture, but
instead of needles the hands are used to apply pressure at acupuncture points
to remove blockages and assist the flow of energy around the body.

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