Our everyday lives tire out our bodies; not only do we feel tired from life, we actually look tired too. The biggest victims of our frenetic modern lifestyles are our feet and spines. Who doesn’t feel neck pain or back pain from time to time?Thanks to constant walking – especially for women in heels, however high they may be – our feet tend to take a pounding on a daily basis.
Therefore, indulging in a spa treatment on a regular basis (say, once a month or more regularly)at a venue such as the luxurious and, in itself, totally relaxing Montcalm Hotel Spa at the top of London’s Park Lane can soothe your body’s nerves very effectively. And so, in turn, eradicate aches and pains. But how do spa treatments do this? Why are they actually relaxing – and good for your body and mind?
Relaxing muscles and improving your skin
Massage therapy, in particular, relaxes muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Admittedly, a massage may not be able to primarily reach the body’s deeper tissues (such as, say, deep spinal musculature), but the release of superficial muscle layers nearer the surface via a massage may affect these deeper layers in a supplementary manner. This is important because it means both superficial and deep tissues can achieveimproved alignment and balance.
Achieving relaxed muscle tissue is significant because it reduces painful contractions, spasms and nerve compression. When these muscles relax, nerves are no longer compressed (unlike when muscles are contracted), ensuring that they can receive proper nutrients and so operate better. This means nerves are capable ofdoing the work they’re supposed to – communicatingmessages to and from the brain vianeurological pathways, improving the operating of all muscles and the body’s organs.
Indeed, in terms of organs, when muscles, bones or nerves are distressed, they actually sometimes reflect distress and dysfunction – low back pain can intensify menstrual cramps and, in turn, menstrual cramps can make low back muscles tense. Needless to say then, massages can alleviate these sorts of symptoms.
Relaxing spa treatments, whether they be massages or facials,are also highly effective at removing the layer of dead cells that lie on the surface of the body’s skin. Facials, in particular, usually involve exfoliation, which specifically takes away this upper layer of dead skin, releasing the layer underneath and ensuring your skin gains the glow it ought to have.
Good blood circulation and potential weight loss
Body massages are also believed to improve blood and lymph circulation, which is most likely due to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and maybe alsodue to chemicals released in the body as part of massages’ automatic relaxation response. It’s scientific fact that improved circulation helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells; in turn then, thanks to improved cellular health, the body’s tissues will function more efficiently, which thenleads to better removal of waste products, increasing absorption of excess fluids and so reducing the swelling in soft tissues.
It’s also possible that regular massages may result in a more efficiently operating metabolism, which inevitably can lead to weight loss. So, not only might you end up feel psychologically lighter afteryour spa session; after time, you might be getting physically lighter too.
Releasing serotonin and soothing the nervous system
People who suffer from sleep apnea or sleeping disorder alsotend to benefit from spa treatments such as massages. Why is this? Again, it appears to be because of the body’s relaxation response to a massage. This response sees someone’s heart and breathing rate slow, their blood pressure decrease, their stress hormones drop and their muscles relax. In addition, it also appears to increase thebody’slevel of serotonin, the chemical that positively affects emotions and thoughts. More scientific studies may be needed to properly confirm the relationship between massages and increased serotonin levels, but the evidence collected thus far suggests there’s certainly a link between the two.
Moreover, the relaxation response may also decrease the physical effects of stress, as well as reducing risks associated with it (among them anxiety, insomnia, persistent fatigue, hypertension, sexual dysfunction, digestive disorders, cardiac arrhythmias and even psychological issues). This fact then, combined with the increase of serotonin that’s attributable to a good massage, may explain why so many people feel not just physically but emotionally energisedfollowing a visit to a spa.
Recent research undertaken by scientists at Ohio State University suggests the following benefits from a massage:
•If muscles are massaged after exercise they can recoveras much as 60% of their strength within days – this compares to a recovery of just 14% strength in muscles merely rested
•if muscles are massaged after exercise they also feature fewer damaged fibres and almost no blood cells, when compared to rested muscles. An absence of white blood cells indicates the body hasn’t had to repair muscle damage after exercise
•massaged muscles can weigh about 8% less than rested muscles, which suggests a definite swelling reduction
•massage cando good for patients suffering from low back pain, anxiety, migraines, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome and (some forms of) cancer and can aid the recovery of those who have recently had heart bypass surgery.
The 10 top tips to get the most out of your massage
1.Abstain from eatingright before your massage
2.Don’t be late – arriving in a rushed, stressed state may mean it will take you longer to relax
3.Remove only as much clothing as you feel comfortable taking off
4.Make sure the clothing you leave on will allow the therapist to massage you
5.If you’re allergic to any oils, lotions or powders, tell your massage therapist – they will use a substitute
6.Inform the masseuse about any discomfort you may feel during the massage
7.Try to relax your muscles and your mind during the massage – it will aid its positive effects
9.If you find you’re dizzy or light-headed following the massage, take a few seconds (or however long you need) before you get up off the table
10.Drink water after your massage – it will help the massage do its good work.