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A good massage can rejuvenate your body, mind and soul. Pooja Prabbhan gets the experts talking about the different kinds of massages, their benefits, and a few tips for first-timers...

Women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported being less depressed and less angry.

There goes a popular proverb by Anne Lamott which states, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”  So, why not experience the magical touch of a professional masseuse while you’re at it? Turns out, science backs the perspective. According to a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience by Besthealthmag, it is stated that “Women diagnosed with breast cancer who received massage therapy three times a week reported being less depressed and less angry.” Furthermore, the same report added that, as per research from Granada University in Spain, a single session of massage therapy immediately effects perceived pain in patients with chronic tension headaches. Whether it is some quality snooze that you’ve deprived yourself of or just a series of stresses your body has been subjected to lately, a massage could do the magic.

For the right balance

A good massage can ease your tension and restore balance to your body, mind and soul, believes Dr Priyanka Sampat, head doctor, Birla Ayurveda. “A well-done massage ideally lubricates the body, soothes the body cells, nourishes the mind, keeps metabolism and blood circulation in check, rejuvenates the body, controls ageing, relieves physical stress, nourishes and hydrates the skin creating a glow, cures pain due to injuries — pathological or physiological, improves immunity, and improves sleeping patterns.” 

Vouching for old-school traditional massages, Dr Priyanka adds, “Go for massages like abhyangam: a classic body massage with herbal oil indicated to prevent and cure various ailments, ageing, and degeneration; navara Kizhi: a warm poultice filled with rice harvested for 60 days and processed with herbal decoction (bala) and milk, tied in bolus and rubbed against the body in a rhythmic manner. This results in nutrition to tissues which undergo depletion and degeneration.”

While requesting for a massage is purely a personal choice, millennials are largely opting for Thai massages. “These massages focus on yoga-inspired stretches that relieve muscular and joint tension, increases flexibility, and stimulates circulation,” avers Dhruv Jouhari, The Palms Spa, who also goes on to bust a popular myth surrounding massages.

“There is no right or wrong age to get a massage. It is an old misconception that a massage is required only when the body is in pain or in need of relief. Studies have shown the benefits of regular massages for improved blood circulation which, within itself, have multiple benefits.” 

Urban woes

Citing how the urban sedentary lifestyle is a slow killer, Lakshmi Narasimhan, head, AtHomeDiva, opines that sitting at the computer desk for long stretches can tighten muscles and cause a lot of body pain. “Apart from lack of exercise, do you know that even our workplace posture aggravates the stress levels in the body? Swedish massage gives relief by releasing the muscle tension while helping regain lost energy. Since it involves techniques like circular massage, kneading, percussions, gliding and stretching of the muscles, it is advised that you seek professional massage to avoid touching the wrong nerve in the body,” he infers.

Stressing on how massages are often perceived as a luxury, and the reason benefits are shadowed, Dhruv adds, “Lymphatic drainage — the movement of lymph is of extreme importance. Lymphatic system aids the immune system in removing and destroying waste, debris, dead blood cells and toxins. ‘The Matrix Rhythm Therapy’ — a well-renowned German doctor’s innovation, which focuses on lymphatic drainage, is the answer to high-stress levels and your pursuit of healthier skin and a natural glow.”

Addressing one of the primary concerns of first-timers, Ashma Khanna, expert in ayurveda at Momspresso, lists some of the boxes to tick before zeroing in on a masseuse. “Look at the hygiene levels of the spa. Major skin infections happen in spas. Settle only for experienced and renowned therapists even if it involves shelling out more bucks since one wrong nerve pressed during a massage can create lifelong issues. A very common issue right now is the recycling of the oils. To make better profits, small mushrooming spas use oils which have been used on customers for therapies like shirodhara or pizichil in which four to five litres of oil is used. Ensure the bottle seal is opened in front of you.”

At a crossroads on what exactly to choose? Dhruv Jouhari has you covered. “One of the most popular massages is the classic Balinese massage. This therapy is a blend of deep tissue, acupressure, reflexology, gentle stretching and aromatherapy designed to bring about a sense of relaxation and rejuvenation,” he ends.

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