For most midlife women, getting a massage is considered a special treat. However, rather than using it as an occasional escape, we should consider prioritizing it as a part of our overall wellness routine.
Despite what people think, a massage is more than just a feel-good way to indulge or pamper ourselves. Especially at our age, it is essential to take time to unwind and de-stress as tension builds up in our bodies more often than before.
According to Mayo Clinic experts: “A massage can boost not only our immunity but also improve our sleep, blood circulation and relieve chronic pain. Regularly including it in our wellness routine can decrease inflammation and lower the body’s amount of cortisol, the stress hormone, promoting a decrease in our body’s physical discomfort, as well as lower heart rate and blood pressure“.
What’s the best massage for me?
There isn’t a “one service fits all” when choosing a massage. Treatments may range from light stroking to deep pressure and a session may last from 10 to 90 minutes, depending on the technique and how much time you have. You can also personalize your experience by discussing your preferences and goals. In the end, whatever the type you choose, the benefits of a massage really comes down to one thing: pressure.
The skin is moved during a moderate pressure massage, which results in a calming and slowing of the nervous system – says Tiffany Field, PhD, director of The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, the first centre in the world devoted specifically to the study of touch -. And that slowing of the nervous system leads to other physiological effects, too, like a decrease in heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and changes in EEG patterns, the electrical activity in your brain.
Amongst the massages recommended to women over 50, here are the top ones according to Dr Anadela Serra Visconti, one of the most renowned Italian aesthetic doctors.
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) – best for improving circulation
Lymphatic drainage massage uses gentle, repetitive strokes to facilitate the lymphatic system. It is a specialised one that is sometimes referred to as a ‘detox massage’, supporting your body’s internal filtration system to help keep your immune defences in check. Developed in France in the 1930s by Emil and Estrid Vodder MLD, it has a very powerful relaxing and calming effect, too.
Ayurvedic – best for reconnecting with your inner self
The Ayurvedic massage boosts physical benefits like released muscle tension, lymphatic drainage, and more nourished skin from head to toe. It stands out from other massages due to its focus on the skin, rather than just the underlying muscles. Sometimes considered as an “oil massage”, because of how much it relies on warm essential oils that suit an individual’s needs and dosha, this treatment is given with gentle and rhythmic strokes on arms and legs and it includes massage of the head (scalp), face, stomach, hands and feet.
Connective Tissue Massage (CTM)- best for toning and firming
This treatment is perfect for anyone who likes firm pressure, as the deeper skin layers will be massaged to reduce any tension and chronic pain. It uses slower, more forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. What’s more, as a manipulative technique it stretches connective tissue, restoring mobility at dermis/hypodermis and dermis/fascia interfaces while promoting collagen. Perfectly suitable for anyone who wants to get rid of cellulite or who would like to reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
Thai – best for improving energy and alertness
A Thai massage is a form of therapeutic touch that differs in many ways from traditional treatment. Instead of a massage table, you lie on a mat on the floor while the practitioner manipulates your body in certain ways to stimulate organs and improve flexibility. Combining compression, acupressure, and passive stretching, Thai Massage can increase the range of motion in your joints, muscles and improve your posture.
Californian – best for reducing stress
It’s the ideal anti-stress massage. The Californian method is ideal for women who are looking for effective and long-lasting relief of tension through deep relaxation, as well as an overall sense of balance. The technique’s main principles were established in the 1970s during a personal growth workshop at the Esalen® Institute in Big Sur, California. In addition to being relaxing, this massage is intended to provide an opportunity to reconnect with the body. Characterized by long fluid and smoother movements, it allows the client to release buried emotions and help the receiver refocus and restore inner balance as well as increase blood flow and circulation.
Lomi lomi – best for rejuvenating the body and removing toxins
It’s a traditional Hawaiian treatment that uses a combination of massage techniques, nut oils, and sometimes elements of prayer, breathing and dance to restore energy and soothe the body. It is also known as the ‘loving hands’ massage. This name helps to explain its principles: the massage works gently yet deeply into the muscles with continuous, flowing strokes, allowing the recipient to relax and give in to the nurturing touch. Lomi lomi works from the belief that memories are stored in the mind and every cell of the human body and it’s designed to help the body let go of its old patterns and behaviours, which can cause as many stresses and strains as muscle tension.
Hot Stone – best for easing tense muscles
Originated in China almost 2,000 years ago, nowadays it’s very popular all over the world. During this treatment, the techniques of a regular massage are applied. However, the therapist also works with smooth, flat, hot stones that are placed on specific parts of the body such as along your spine, in the palms of your hands, along your legs and between the toes. This massage, meant to help you relax and ease tense muscles and damaged soft tissues throughout your body, uses massage oil and a combination of specific strokes and techniques, encouraging your body to detox and heal by increasing your lymphatic flow and encouraging your body to remove waste products.
Don’t forget that despite their benefits, massages aren’t meant as a replacement for regular medical care. Let your doctor know you’re trying massage and be sure to follow any standard treatment plans you have.