Massage


Not just an indulgence

Massage is a hands-on therapy that involves rubbing and manipulating the soft tissues of your body, especially your muscles. Massage can improve blood circulation, ease muscle tension and help you feel more relaxed.

A massage is not only useful for helping you deal with your physical pain, it also helps relieve stress and helps you get to sleep.

You can give yourself a massage or you can see a qualified therapist. You can even ask a family member or good friend to give you a gentle massage.

While it’s not possible to massage all parts of your body (unless you’re a contortionist) you can still relieve many of your own muscular aches and tension. You may even find that you do it unconsciously – when you’re sitting at the computer and you rub your neck, when you have a headache and you gently rub your temples, or when you’re applying a heat rub to your sore knee.

Self-massage tips

  • As well as using your hands, you can use a foam roller, massage balls or other massage aids; e.g. use a tennis ball or a golf ball to massage the soles of the feet. Simply place the ball on the floor, place your bare foot on top of it and gently roll the ball along the length of your foot. If you’re unsteady on your feet, sit down while you do this.
  • Before starting, ease some of your muscle tension with a warm shower or applying a heat pack (warm not hot) to the painful area.
  • Use smooth, firm strokes. You’ll feel the difference between strokes that are relieving muscle tension, and those that are adding to it. Adjust the pressure, from hard to gentle, based on your pain.
  • Using an oil or lotion can help your hands move smoothly over the skin, however, they aren’t essential; it’s a personal choice.
  • Try to massage yourself regularly to prevent muscle pain and tension building up.
  • You can also use the shower to provide a massage, especially on your neck, shoulders and back.

As well as doing your own massage, you can see a qualified therapist. They’ve been trained to know how your body works, how to relieve muscle tension and help relieve your pain. They can also get to the hard to reach places, and give you tips and advice on your self-massage techniques. Massage therapists provide a range of different massage styles from remedial to relaxation to myotherapy.

Questions to ask a massage therapist

  • What type of massage do you provide?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • Are you accredited with the peak massage body in Australia?
  • Have you successfully treated people with my condition?
  • Do I need to take all my clothes off?
  • How long are the massage sessions?
  • What is the cost?
  • Can I claim this on my health insurance?

Other tips

  • Make sure you’re comfortable before the massage therapist starts.
  • Ask for extra support if you need it.
  • Let your massage therapist know if the pressure is too hard,too soft or if anything hurts.
  • Ask yourself whether you prefer to see a male or female therapist.
  • Try not to feel embarrassed if you fall asleep or pass wind during your massage. It happens – especially when your body relaxes.

More to explore

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Musculoskeletal Australia (or MSK) is the consumer organisation working with, and advocating on behalf of, people with arthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout and over 150 other musculoskeletal conditions.

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