Therapeutic massage is not just a treatment modality, it combines the useful with the pleasant: it relieves suffering, removes tension from affected areas, supports the body’s regeneration and healing processes and at the same time is a very effective way to relax and unwind.
Most of the time, a suffering area in the body leads to tension in neighbouring areas or forces other areas to take over from the tasks they cannot perform due to the condition. In the case of a sciatica attack for example, the suffering leg is protected during walking by the other leg, which is overstrained, because we tend to avoid putting our weight on the leg that hurts. Similarly, an organ that can no longer perform its normal function leads to overstrain on other organs and systems. This is why therapeutic massage does not only include the affected area, but aims to restore balance so that the end result is a state of overall relaxation. Also, if we look wisely at the affected area and its functions, we can make correlations between those functions and events in our lives, a certain emotion or attitude that is reflected in the alteration of that function and that has brought us and keeps us suffering. When we pay attention to that area, it can “speak” to us, showing us a deeper message it brings to us, and in this process the therapist is the one who can guide us to discover it. An aching leg can show us some resistance to moving forward in some aspect of our lives, a tired liver can show us a build-up of anger or a long-standing indecision.
Therapeutic massage can consist either of stimulating certain reflex zones, or of massaging the main points on certain energy meridians, or of osteopraxy manoeuvres, or of certain therapeutic local massage manoeuvres (kneading, friction, vibration, gelling), or it can consist of a combination of these, depending on the need. Joints become more flexible, blood and lymphatic circulation are beneficially influenced, muscles gradually regain their contractility, normal tone, elasticity, we feel lighter, more flexible, more spry, posture is visibly corrected.
Regardless of the technique chosen, physical and mental relaxation is the most important effect that the therapist aims for. Healing and regeneration are processes that are only triggered when we are relaxed, when we come out of the ‘fight, freeze or flight’ mode, where the sympathetic nervous system is active and survival mechanisms triggered by fear and stress are sustained. At those times, intelligence drops by half, the immune system is shut down, regenerative processes stagnate. When we are relaxed, the parasympathetic nervous system is active, the body regenerates, heals, we are more loving, creative, our vision broadens, we are able to find novel, even brilliant solutions to the problems we face. This enlarged vision is actually a way out of the old way of thinking, a transformation of ourselves, a way out of the autopilot, where subconscious programs run 90% of the time based on beliefs that are no longer valid for us, on prejudices taken from the education given by family, school, society in childhood, erroneous beliefs that life has now brought to our attention through an affection to change them, disconnecting us from subconscious programs and becoming truly present, capable of a conscious choice. Thus, through awareness, the affected place becomes a gateway to ourselves, and the massage table becomes the place of a revelation.