I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my health and well-being, more so after a recent massage I had and a good old conversation with the massage therapist. Basically, after having whats called a ‘drift massage’ (a massage where the therapist uses candle wax to massage into the muscles, and you get to pick your chosen scent), my therapist picked up on a few ‘issues’ that needed addressing..
In a nutshell, my neck and upper shoulders were riddled with knots, and apparently my upper body is really tense. Because I carry a heavy bag on my right shoulder every day, and also sleep on my right hand side, my right hand side of my body is literally knackered (OK, maybe not that bad, but it was in a lot worse condition than my left side).
I left the treatment feeling like although I understood why my upper body is in such a tense ‘mess’, I can;t physically do much to stop the situation: I’m always going to work on a laptop, I’m always going to be hunched over it everyday, and unless I get an eye level laptop/desk setup, I can’t see no solution…
But, one thing I can do to help my situation, poor posture and all-round tense upper shoulders and neck muscles is to have regular massages. And you know what, they can be pricey and bit of a ‘real treat’, so they don’t have to be the whole full-body, all-singing-all-dancing massage, just a regular intense neck and shoulder massage to relieve deep knots and tense muscles…
So it got me thinking. As I live in Manchester, what are the top 5 massages with the best health benefits and general impact to your well-being that you can have regularly, without breaking the bank?
For a start, a great place to look is Groupon, who regularly run offers for massage treatments in and around Manchester. If you catch the right offer at the right time, you can get some top deals on Groupon for as little as £20 for a full body massage!
So here you go, here’s the top 5 massages you can get allllll around Manchester spas, beauty salons and clinics for a relaxed and de-stressed body…
1. Swedish Massage Therapy
This is one of the most common massages, and it’s a good one for those who want the benefits and enjoyment of a standard full body massage, but with a little more pressure. The massage therapists use long smooth strokes, using kneading and circular movement techniques on superficial layers of muscle, using massage lotion or oil. Swedish massage therapy can be very gentle and relaxing, as the pressure is usually to a light/medium level, focusing on areas of deep knots and tense muscle.
2. Aromatherapy Massage
Aromatherapy massage is one of my favourites, and in a nutshell, its massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils, added to address specific needs. The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energising, stress-reducing, balancing, etc, and more commonly now, they let you smell them first and select, to tailor the massage to your tastes.
One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender, due to its clever ways of sending the mind and body into a sleepy zone. Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component.
3. Hot Stone Massage
This is a great one if you love heat, which I certainly do with always being a cold person! Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centres in the body. The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting to the body, working deep down to those tough muscles. Hot stone massages are ideal for people who have a lot of muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage technique.
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localised finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians. It’s becoming much more popular in the North West.
Each point is held for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance. People are normally pleasantly surprised when they try shiatsu for the first time, as it can sound a little daunting, but it really isn’t. It’s relaxing yet the pressure is firm, and there is usually no soreness afterwards.
5. Thai Massage
Like Shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compression and stretches, and if you have an actual Thai massage by a Thai therapist, you can expect certain muscles to be pulled and stretched that you’ve never experienced before!
You don’t just lie there- the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. It’s a little like yoga without doing any work. Thai massage is more energising than other forms of massage, and although they can be uncomfortable, you’d be surprised at the instant benefits. They also reduces stress and improve flexibility too.
I was really surprised the last time I had a massage just how much I needed one – and it really isn’t something I should look at as a ‘luxury’. With someone like me who hunches over a laptop everyday and carries a heavy shoulder bag, I had no idea how much damage it could do to my neck, shoulders and upper back. But with regular deep tissue massages and some good old TLC on all my knots, it’s a real therapy for me to ease my tension and relax my body.
Luckily, there are a lot of salons and spas in Manchester I can book into, and my current favourite ‘go-to’ treatment is a good old Aromatherapy Massage. I literally get the benefits of a soothed and de-stressed body, with the advantages of the aromatherapy lifting my senses and relaxing my body.
Do you ever indulge in massages, and if so, do you see them more as an essential, or more of a treat? Feel free to let me know in the comments!