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Massotherapy involves the use of massage for therapy, either physical or emotional in nature. Many types of massage fall under the umbrella of massotherapy, ranging from deep tissue massage to reflexology, and almost all types of massage have some form of therapeutic value. Massage schools all over the world offer training in massotherapy, and it is generally very easy to find a massage therapist who offers therapeutic massage. By contrast, clients can also opt for a purely recreational massage, which may encourage relaxation, but provide no other therapeutic benefits.
All types of massage confer some immediate benefits. Touch in general reduces feelings of strain, isolation, and loneliness. Therapeutic massage is also relaxing, as it lowers the heart rate, eases muscle pain, and promotes a general state of relaxation by encouraging people to lie down and concentrate on their breathing. Most massage techniques promote healthy circulation of blood and lymph, which can also have positive benefits for health.
Specific styles of massotherapy are focused on muscle aches and pain, promotion of increased flexibility, emotional distress, injury recovery, and other issues which clients may be dealing with. Massage can be used to help people recover from surgeries, sports injuries, and traumatic accidents such as car crashes. Some techniques also integrate energy work, which is supposed to promote a feeling of balance and well-being, along with principles from various schools of alternative medicine, such as Ayurveda.
The length of a massotherapy session can vary widely, from 15 minutes to two hours or sometimes even longer. Depending on the style of massage being offered, the client may lie on the table or on a mat on the floor, and he or she may be nude and draped or fully dressed. The therapist uses massage techniques to work on the body, and he or she also usually stretches specific limbs to reach particular muscle groups. Ideally, therapist and client work together so that both feel comfortable at all times in the session.
Massotherapy sessions are individualized to the client, making it important to find a therapist who works well with you. Ideally, a chance to meet the therapist before a session should be provided, or you should be able to read the massage therapist's biography and credentials to get an idea of whether or not the therapist is a good fit. During the session, communication about specific issues is critical, and clients should not be embarrassed by emotional outbursts, as massage can trigger deep-seated emotions, causing people to laugh, cry, or exhibit other emotions.