Relaxation massages can be considered as an ancient technique to obtain both physical and mental benefits. However, they are currently undervalued and that is why many people are unaware of their true scope and advantages. Here we will share the benefits and why they are important, if you are going through perimenopause or menopause.
What are relaxation massages?
Massage is a set of manual techniques that seek to knead, touch or press different parts of the body. There are different types of massages that can vary in intensity, from soft and gentle to vigorous and energetic. Some techniques can be a little uncomfortable; especially, when the therapist is working on deep muscle tissue. In addition, they can be localised (such as on the neck or back) or full body (1).
Some examples of massages are (1):
- Swedish: which is the most common and covers the whole body
- Aromatherapy: combines manual techniques with the use of essential oils
- Deep tissue: indicated for persistent muscular problems
- Sports: used before or after sport to promote recovery and prevent injuries
- Shiatsu: combines acupressure and stretching
- Neuromuscular: helps to balance the nervous system and muscles
Relaxation massages offer an effective way to reduce stress and promote both mental and physical relaxation. They also help to relieve accumulated tension in the muscles, releasing stiffness and pain. During a massage, the body releases endorphins, neurotransmitters that generate feelings of well-being and happiness. This can help to reduce acute stress and anxiety, improve mood and promote mental balance (1,2).
Massage for menopausal relaxation
Perimenopause and menopause are often accompanied by several symptoms and discomfort, including stress, mood swings, fatigue, tiredness, back pain and sleep problems. Virtually all these symptoms can be resolved with hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, it is also possible to use alternative therapies such as massage to alleviate them (3,4).
Relaxation massages play a crucial role in managing stress, one of the factors that intensify menopausal symptoms. They help to achieve a state of deep relaxation and alleviate some symptoms. They are beneficial in reducing muscle aches and headaches, as well as promoting quality sleep (3,4).
Research reports suggest that Swedish massage is preferred by menopausal women for its highly relaxing effect. It can be combined with aromatherapy with lavender, rose, geranium and rosemary to increase relaxation. Acupressure seeks to stimulate specific points to regulate hormone production and reduce hot flushes (3,4).
Recommendations for relaxation massages at home
If you don’t want to go to a therapist, you can have a massage at home. Some practical recommendations for this are (5):
- Find a calm and quiet place or play relaxing music
- The lighting should be soft, to convey rest and tranquillity
- Consider massaging each area for 15 minutes
- Use a moisturising cream or natural oil to make it easier to glide your fingers over the skin
- Stroke the skin of the area to be worked on and gradually increase the pressure. You can use other techniques such as kneading
- Use a foam roller, a ball or any self-massage tool to facilitate the process
Precautions to be taken with massages
Relaxation massages are usually harmless. In some cases, however, those receiving a massage may feel weak, drowsy and tearful. These symptoms are temporary and disappear after a short time, however, it is important to consult a doctor before having a massage if you (1):
- Are in cancer treatment such as radiation
- Feel very tired
- Have or have had a fracture or frequent injury
- Suffer joint pain or a heart problem
- Got swollen feet or arms. In this case manual lymphatic drainage is recommended
- Experienced blood clots
- Have been affected by skin problems such as rashes or inflammation
Why not try relaxation massages and experience the benefits for yourself. They can help you deal with stress, aches and pains and sleep problems. But consult your doctor beforehand, as their guidance will help you determine if they are right for you.
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Cáncer Research UK. Massage and cáncer [Internet] 2022 [Cited 2023 Jun 10] Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/treatment/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/massage
NHS. Massage [Internet] 2022 [Cited 2023 Jun 10] Available from: https://www.sfh-tr.nhs.uk/media/13225/pil202201-04-ma-massage.pdf
Oliveira D, Hachul H, Tufik S, Bittencourt L. Effect of massage in postmenopausal women with insomnia: a pilot study. Clinics (Sao Paulo). [Internet] 2011 [Cited 2023 Jun 10] 66(6):1123. [Cited 2023 Jun 10] Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059875/
East West College. [Internet] 2019 [Cited 2023 Jun 10] Available from: https://www.eastwestcollege.com/how-massage-can-ease-menopause-symptoms/
Nunez K. How to ease stress and pain with self-massage techniques [Internet] 2022 [Cited 2023 Jun 10] Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/self-massage