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At the beginning of a session, I always carry out a consultation, including a postural assessment (5 – 10 minutes) with clients to discuss their health and if there is anything I should be aware of. I plan my treatment taking this information into account, as well as the client’s preferences for areas of focus. Back tension is very common, and so the back massage is often thorough, but I also employ many techniques on the feet, legs, stomach, arms, chest and face. People are often surprised to find they enjoy a massage that includes less common areas of focus such as the arms and the stomach. Treatment on the abdomen can help improve digestion, as well as to de-stress. The tension in certain areas of the body often has a knock-on effect on other areas, and so this is always taken into consideration for a treatment that has the maximum effectiveness. The aim is to restore homeostasis or balance within the body.
Sometimes if people have a lot of tension, they can feel quite sore after treatment before they feel better usually soon after or the next day. This healing crisis (the technical and less alarming-sounding term is the Herxheimer reaction) is a normal reaction due to the release of built-up toxins and waste products from the muscles/promotion of fluid dynamics. It is usually experienced by people who have not had a treatment for a long time and reduces with regular treatments. Referrals to other specialists are made where necessary, and homecare advice is given as part of a holistic approach.
Oils are selected according to skin type, and each is beneficial for the health in different ways. I usually use a blend of beeswax, almond oil and arnica as the texture is very good, especially for sports and remedial massage. Refined grapeseed oil is good for people with allergies and pregnant clients, and it contains the omega six essential fatty acid linoleic acid, which nourishes the skin and can also assist circulation. Jojoba oil, which also contains essential fatty acids, is good for more mature skin as it moisturizes and softens, and it’s emulsifying properties help to clear the skin’s pores, making it good for greasy skin, too. Apricot oil, often used for face massage, contains the nutritious vitamin B17 and is good for sensitive or dry skin, as is almond oil. I do not use oil for head massage, and whatever I choose, I only use enough to enable me to work into the muscles, so I don’t drown people in it!