The word “massage” probably derives its etymology from the Arabic masah (“to press lightly, to feel”) rather than from the Greek massein (“massage”). It is an ancestral practice used by many civilizations: Eastern, Asian and Indian.
Relaxing, energizing, therapeutic, massage has many health benefits. Although its practice differs from one tradition to another, it remains a tool for well-being to protect your body from tensions.
Principle of massage
Massage is based on precise touch techniques, generally organized according to a specific pattern of execution. If everyone has already practiced it to relieve benign pain and tension, massage is not an insignificant gesture.
In France, only physiotherapists are allowed to perform a therapeutic massage, medical or not.
Apart from therapy, massage can be considered as a moment of well-being and relaxation. Under no circumstances can it replace a medical consultation with a person suffering from a pathology or disorder.
Why get a massage?
There are three categories of massage.
– Medical therapeutic massage is used to promote the healing or improvement of a physical disorder.
– The energy massage is used to regulate the circulation of Qi (or Tchi) energy in the body to maintain a harmonious balance of its vital functions;
– The wellness massage is essentially performed to relax, soothe and relax the body and mind.
In all cases, massage helps to raise awareness of the body, promotes sensory pleasure and stimulates blood and lymphatic circulation.
How is a massage performed?
Massage is generally performed lying down on a massage table or sitting on a chair specifically designed for this touch technique.
Each of the three main types of massage combines several practices.
– Medical therapeutic massage: performed by physiotherapists, this type of massage is often linked to a very specific part of the body to be rehabilitated (feet, back, shoulders, etc.) or to the treatment of diseases involving lymphatic and circulatory disorders.
The practitioner is also qualified to perform toning massages such as the Swedish massage. Thanks to its invigorating properties, this classic is ideal for physical activity in preparation or recovery.
– Energy massage: of Asian origin, its most well-known techniques are ayurvedic massage (India), Thai massage, tui na massage (China) and do-in self-massage (Japan). According to tradition, they allow the body to protect itself from illness by maintaining a good circulation of our internal energy.
– Wellness massage: it is performed by a professional masseur, massage by an aesthetician. There are many types of massage that are only intended to relax: Californian massage, Hawaiian massage, hot stone massage, zazen, pijatkepala etc.
In order not to warm the skin during a massage, the practitioner can use oils or lotions. More or less fragrant, they also contribute to the feeling of well-being and relaxation.
Contraindications to massage
Massages are not recommended in case of skin diseases, wounds, bruises or following surgery (except for scar massages, which are highly recommended).
It should be noted that all massages affect blood circulation (increase in blood pressure) and lower the heart rate. Therefore, it is essential to seek medical advice in the event of a history of heart disease, embolism, phlebitis or diabetes.
It should also be noted that some massages, particularly in the abdominal belt area, are not recommended, or even contraindicated in case of pregnancy.
How does a massage work?
There is no standard session for a massage.
If the massage is performed by a masseur-physiotherapist, speaking time is usually provided before and after the session.
If the massage is performed by an ayurvedic or Chinese medical practitioner, the session is preceded by a detailed interview to establish the patient’s profile as a whole.
It should be noted that this speaking time is not always observed in all centers offering massages, particularly aesthetic or wellness massages. In this case, it is preferable to consult a doctor beforehand to ensure that there are no contraindications to the massage or to consult a health professional qualified to perform the massage.
The practice is specific to each type of massage. It will be rather gentle for wellness massage with touches and enveloping movements to solicit nerve endings for the sensation of pleasure.
Maneuvers and pressure techniques can be used during wellness massages (digitopuncture, shiatsu, etc.). The practitioner in Chinese medicine or Ayurveda looks for support points for the massage, located on the meridians.
How to choose your masseur?
In France, state-certified physiotherapists are the only ones authorized to practice therapeutic massage, as we understand it in the medical sense of the term. While some are trained in alternative practices such as energy massage or body awareness massage, the law does not allow them to advertise them. It is therefore essential to check directly with your practitioner.
There is no state-recognized training for energy massages. They are performed by masseurs, physiotherapists, osteopathic physiotherapists, massage wellness practitioners or Chinese medicine practitioners. It is therefore essential to use word of mouth and to get as much information as possible about the masseur before making an appointment. A training certificate from a certified school is an additional guarantee of seriousness.