By Joel Curry, MSW, CMT, Pathways to Health
What happens in a massage session? You and the practitioner will discuss what you want from the session and this will determine which parts of the body will be the focus of the massage and what form of bodywork will be used. If basic relaxation and stress relief are the focus of the work, Swedish massage will be employed. If you are experiencing pain to the point of discomfort while lying on the massage table, pressure point applications may also be used.
Swedish, the most prevalent form of bodywork, relaxes muscles, reduces stress and eases minor aches and pains. It involves broad, flowing strokes and the use of oil, which requires some disrobing. You, as the receiver decide the extent to which you disrobe. The practitioner will leave the room while you undress. You will be properly draped at all times with a clean sheet or towel. Only the area worked on will be exposed. At the end of the session, the practitioner will again leave the room while you dress.
For chronic or acute pain, Acupressure or Shiatsu may be called for and can be incorporated with Swedish massage. Bowen Therapy may also be used but is not usually combined with other methods. Pressure point work is done to relieve pain or areas of tension. Reflexology is another pressure point system where the feet and hands are worked to stimulate corresponding areas of the body.
Communication is a key in getting what you want from a massage or bodywork session. Do not hesitate to let your therapists know how you are responding. Throughout either relaxation or pain relief sessions, it is recommended that you give your therapists feedback regarding your response to the work. If the depth of the work is causing you to tense in response, this can be counterproductive and it is important that you tell the therapist to ease the pressure.