How massage is good for the body, soul and mind

A woman undergoes a back massage session at Fusion Auto Spa at Munyonyo. Massage therapy is said to have several health benefits including increasing joint flexibility and relieving several forms of pain . PHOTO by RACHEL Mabala

What you need to know:

It is known to relieve stress, pain and promote relaxation. Yet many still see it as luxury. Today, we explore some of the benefits of having your body massaged and why you should do it frequently.

When you feel fatigue, a sharp sudden or persistent back pain after a long day of sitting, headache or body pain, these could be some of the signs that your body needs to be rejuvenated with a healing touch.

Not necessarily the touch of a pastor speaking in tongues, but rather that of a masseuse. Massage is defined as an action of pressing and rubbing a person’s body using hands, with the aim of relaxing the muscles on the particular parts of the body. Massage is also helped to reduce pain in the affected area.
Massage does only rejuvenate the body, it also has soul-healing benefits. This explains why the therapy is usually conducted in a quiet environment, with dim lighting and soothing music to calm a person.

Saina Nabukenya, a masseuse at Fusion Auto Spa, in Munyonyo, says massage is particularly recommended for people who suffer persistent headaches, stress, depression, heavy cramps and general body and muscle pain. Below, she outlines the different types of massage and their benefits.

Deep tissue back massage
Like the name suggests, this type of massage targets the back and shoulder areas. The aim of this type of massage is to relieve ache and pain in the muscles. “With deep tissue back massage, we press a person’s back with deep action, compared to the way we do it with the Swedish massage,” explains Nabukenya.
She says deep tissue back massage helps to stimulate blood flow by relieving tension in the muscles. The process of carrying out this type of massage usually lasts for 30 minutes for it to be effective. Under this type of massage, specific muscles can also be targeted, depending on the needs of an individual.

Hot stone body therapy
Before the hot stone massage is carried out, smooth round stones are heated in water to a specific temperature. During the massage, the hot stones are then placed on a person’s back, hands or belly to warm and relax the muscles. “The hot stones cannot burn you because there is a recommended temperature at which the masseuse carries and places them on a person’s back,” says Nabukenya. The masseuse also uses the hot stones to rub the entire body.

Spa double
During a spa double, two therapists simultaneously rub a person’s muscles to ensure they are relaxed. With this kind of massage, a person gets the same touch, at the same time and this helps to balance pressure on the muscles.

Aroma therapy
Aroma therapy involves blending of essential oils to form scented healing oils. Apart from the massage, the oils such as lavender and eucalyptus have healing properties, which remove toxic substances from the skin and rejuvenate the mind. Pearl Baine, the director of Indulge, a spa in Ntinda, says aromatherapy massage uses pure essential oils based on a person’s needs. As such, this type of massage helps to de-stress both the mind and body.
Swedish massage
This is a soothing, relaxing massage that helps a person to relax. When using Swedish massage, therapists use oils to facilitate smooth, gliding strokes over the body. This is usually accompanied by soft music to relax a person’s mind.

Back head and shoulder massage
In short, it is called the BHS massage. It is done on the back head and shoulders to quickly alleviate stress and muscle tension.

Fat reduction massage
This type of massage improves the functioning of the body’s overall metabolism because it targets the digestive system and muscle structure, with the main focus being the abdomen. It is good for people who are overweight.

Sports massage
It relaxes and eases sore muscles after a tough workout. It is also recommended for sports personalities and people who are keen on exercise programmes such as jogging.

After birth massage
The aim of this type of massage is usually to relax the body and help re-align it back to the pre-pregnancy period. It also helps reduce post-surgery adhesions and stretch marks.

Detox massage
Expels toxins, restores balance, reduces muscle pain and aches, rehydrating the body and ridding it of toxins and extreme fatigue.

Jetlag or travellers massage
This massage targets specific areas that are affected by sitting in one position for a long period of time, for instance the back, hips and legs.

My experience with massage has been good
“Although I last had a massage session last year, it is one thing I do not consider as a luxury, but rather, therapy that has several health and healing benefits.

I have not gone for one lately because I recently moved houses, so I am yet to find a good massage spa in my new location.
I used to go for a massage once or twice a month.
I had my first massage in 2003 because I wanted to find out what aroma therapy was all about. Although it turned out to be just normal massage with a few additions, I enjoyed it.
I think I am one of those people who like to be pampered and be taken care of. The aroma therapy was recommended to me but all the other regular massages are always my choice.

During massage, I just switch off and discover pains I did not know I had. The massage makes you more conscious with what you are feeling in your body. To get a massage, one should also be able to let the masseuse take charge of their body. I do not think self- conscious people can do massage.

I have done aroma therapy, followed by steam and regular massages. I have also done a bit of reflexology. Now I am curious about Swedish massage, maybe because it sounds exotic. Each massage costs me between Shs20,000 and Shs50,000, but I guess the cost depends on where you go.

Best experience
I do not remember the name of the massage parlour, but the experience started right from the time I walked in. The parlour was like a house with dim lighting, candles and flower petals. It was like coming home and finding a romantic surprise. The massage I had had before this one was in a clean nice place and was great pampering.
There was an offer to have a shower before the massage and the interesting bit was that it was to be done by a man, something I had never done or thought of. At first, I thought it could not work, and then I slowly adjusted to the fact that I was going to be attended to by a male masseur.
Since I am always careful where I go, I cannot say I have had a bad massage experience. I look at every little detail in a place before deciding where to go. I also consider my body hygiene because someone else is going to deal with my body during the therapy session. Secondly, I consider when I last had a massage. Ideally, I would try to have two massage sessions every month.
Thirdly, I take note of the costs involved because this kind of pampering does not come cheap.

Fatigue is another factor I consider.
But generally I think people need to consider the kind of job they do before going for massage.
Previously, when my job involved doing a lot of field work, I would do more sessions every month. However, these days when you go to the salon for a hair-do, you are also offered free head massage.

Professional touch
It is better to seek the services of a professional because having the massage done by an amateur may not give you the same benfit.
A good massage is one that relaxes the body, relieves tension and pain.

How massage therapy came to be what it is today
Massage therapy is a relatively new phenomenon in Uganda, which started to take shape about a decade ago.
This was largely as a result in the growth of middle class earners, who had excess money to spend on luxuries. The massage profession generally has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, dating back as far as 3000 BC.
In Asia, particularly China, articrafts dating back to 300 BC show massage therapy being used along other herbs as treatment for injuries.

However, this therapy became less practised during the middle ages because of religious and cultural beliefs that were associated with it. As ancient teachings were revived, the practice started to make a comeback. In the 20th century, poor training standards and moral decay created gaps for unprofessional practices in the massage therapy business to emerge.

Just like any other profession, it has over the years been prone to indiscipline. It can, however, be protected and improved through the formation of an organised association of trained masseuses. In Europe and the United States, massage therapists have associations and are licensed to practice.
In Uganda, massage parlours are regulated under section 109 of the Public Health Act. This is enforced by Kampala City Council Authority. Under the Act, massage parlours are forbidden from the use of harmful products that could pose a health risk to a person. Professional massage practitioners are trained from beauty schools, where they are taught the body anatomy, physiology and ethical practice.

Being a relatively new profession in Uganda, it will take collective effort from beauty schools, massage parlour owners, and the public to promote massage as a professional practice. Massage therapy is one of the fastest growing industries in Europe because of increased awareness of lifestyle-related diseases such as cancer and available public knowledge on the need to keep healthy.
This is the reason most massage parlours have more foreigners than Ugandans as customers. Most people still view massage as a waste of money.

However, there is a generation of Ugandans who relate their lives to those portrayed on reality television shows. These groups of people promote the culture of massage as luxury. As a result, entrepreneurs are beginning to tap into this opportunity to promote the use of massage therapy.
Massage has several benefits including restoring the body’s natural defence system.

Among sports people, massage is a commonly used therapy to improve muscle efficiency and blood flow. Aromatherapy is useful in relieving stress and improving sleep.

Nobert Akantorana is a professional physiotherapist.

quick tips to note
Before you do a massage, take a shower or steam bath, ease yourself, and turn your cell phone off to avoid interruptions.
•Do not drink or smoke.
•Do not go for a massage on an empty stomach.
•Do not talk during the procedure to avoid distraction from the session.
•Relax as much as possible.
Cost of massage at Fusion Auto Spa
Hot stone massage Shs50,000.
Deep tissue back massage Shs30,000.
Aroma therapy Shs50,000.
Swedish massage Shs30,000.
Back head and shoulders Shs50,000.


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