The magic of massage

 The modern holistic approach to mind and body balance means people are turning to alternative and complementary therapies to enhance their wellbeing and treat ailments.

“Massage has a lot of benefits, such as releasing tension, improving circulation and generally improving health and total wellbeing,” says Ferdane Cecelija, lead massage therapist at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman’s Silver Rain spa.

Massage originated in China some 4000 years ago and is now one of the most popular therapies around the world.

It is a relaxing hands-on treatment that can be used with other therapies, such as acupuncture.

“There are many health problems that cannot be resolved by medicine alone,” Ferdane says. “In fact, nowadays many doctors recommend alternative remedies to relieve headaches and other unknown body pains. Depending on a client’s concerns, a chiropractor will often recommend a massage as well as medicine and vice versa.”

Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes to knead, roll, cup and make other movements to focus on superficial layers of muscles.

The technique relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility and helps clear lactic acid.

It can also have a positive effect on the whole body, including bones, heart, skin and muscles as well as improving breathing, digestion and mental health.

“Massage releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – and decreases discomfort for those who suffer from lower back pain, for example,” Ferdane explains.

“In general, massage has a major influence in the activity of the musculoskeletal, lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems.”

According to Ferdane, it has also been shown that regular massages in breast cancer patients increase the cells that fight the condition.

And, she adds, it can help conditions such as asthma, hypertension, arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes and muscle strains.

The health benefits of massage can be applied to specialised treatments, including chiropractic care, physical therapy, sports medicine and energy work and in the treatment of geriatrics.
Swedish massage, followed by deep tissue/sports massage, is the most common contemporary form of the practice.

Other recognised forms of massage include craniosacral, aromatherapy, hot stone, reflexology, prenatal/postnatal, neuromuscular therapy, the myoskeletal alignment technique, ancient Thai massage, shiatsu, lomilomi, lymphatic drainage, reiki, Rolfing, and the Alexander technique.

Among the therapies offered at Silver Rain, Swedish massage is one the most popular techniques. It is ideal for those having a massage for the first time.

“In Swedish massage the therapist applies firm but gentle pressure to promote relaxation and ease muscle tension,” Ferdane says.

“The main purpose is to increase the oxygen flow in the blood and release toxins from the muscles in the form of lactic acid, uric acid and other metabolic wastes. It also helps with any tension-related issues, such as back and shoulder pain, neck pain and spasms.”

Deep tissue/sports massage is also popular at the spa, especially among athletes on the island.

“This type of massage focuses more on the deeper layers of muscle tissue and usually on specific areas,” Ferdane explains.

“It may cause some soreness during or right after the massage as deep finger and elbow pressure is applied. The main purpose of deep tissue massage is to ‘un-stick’ the fibres of a muscle while releasing deeply-held patterns of tension, and removing toxins.”

Hot stone massage is a commonly requested therapy at Silver Rain, helping relieve pain, release toxins, improve circulation and alleviate stress.

In this technique, water-treated stones are placed on specific sites of the body to open the energy pathways known as meridians and promote relaxation.

Although massage has many benefits for a variety of ailments it should be noted that people with certain conditions must avoid the practice.

Anyone who has suffered heart failure, kidney failure, blood clots in the legs, infection of the superficial veins, bleeding disorders and some types of cancers should not have a massage.

Ferdane, who has lived in Cayman for the past four years, has been a massage therapist for over a decade. She constantly keeps abreast of developments in the industry.

“It’s very important to keep up-to-date with new treatments,” Ferdane stresses. “That way I know what’s new and can help when it comes to recommending the best treatment for clients.”