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Can A Massage Help With Trauma? We Tried To Find Out...

Pascale Day
By Pascale Day Published on 1 December 2016

We all enjoy a good massage. It's relaxing and quite possibly the best way to spend your day off. But beyond its relaxation effects, can a massage help your mental wellbeing? K Spa in London features an Inner Strength experience that hopes to do exactly what it says on the tin: give inner strength to those who need it. But does it work? We went to find out.

When browsing K-Spa's treatment menu, there is one page in particular which catches the eye: the Face & Body Experience page. There are two to choose from: Deeply Warming Back and Face or Inner Strength. Far from the usual massage therapy, these treatments are like a journey. But the Inner Strength one was particularly intriguing: described as "ideal for anyone experiencing their own personal trauma, or simply those needing a nurturing treatment to help draw upon their inner strength," I was keen to give it a go.

What does the treatment involve?

Upon entering a darkened room with soft lighting, I was invited to lie face down on a bed. Positioned beneath the face hole of the bed was a bowl filled with frankincense, which is used to help relieve chronic stress and anxiety, reducing your heart rate and high blood pressure levels. I inhaled the oil deeply, allowing it to open my breathing passages and relax my body. As I concentrated on this, my masseuse gave me a foot cleanse using heated mitts.

A rich oil is applied to both the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet, followed by a quick sweep of paraffin wax to both. The paraffin, K-Spa's massage therapist Lyudmyla tells me, is used in part for its moisturising benefits, with the wax essentially trapping the heat below the surface of the skin, allowing it to penetrate the outer skin layers and targeting sore muscles to alleviate any soreness.

​An aromatherapy oil massage on the back and the legs then follows, also applying paraffin to the necessary areas. A treatment to the face and scalp then wraps up the experience, which Lyudmyla says uses massage techniques intended to be supportive and comforting.​

How exactly does the treatment help trauma?

As you'd expect with all massages, the treatment is designed to help relax you. What more could you want in times of stress? The massage helps with circulation, lowers the blood pressure and allows the body to breathe properly, which Lyudmyla tells us will help to reduce feelings of anxiety. She also says that the use of aromatherapy oil is helpful in calming the nervous system. But it is the hot paraffin wax that separates this massage from all others: it is applied to certain areas of the skin that are considered to be "key chakra areas of the body" for a deep sense of calm and relaxation. So whilst a belief in the spiritual is not essential, an open mind is recommended. Even without being spiritually inclined, though, I could still appreciate the hugely relaxing qualities of the paraffin - yes, having hot wax applied to the skin is strangely great for de-stressing your mind.

Relieving stress is one of the greatest benefits of a massage on your mental wellbeing. During a massage, the blood pressure lowers, allowing the body to breathe properly, which results in lessened feelings of stress and anxiety. Regular massages can improve emotional well-being as it fulfils the body’s need for touch, making the person feel nurtured and comforted. Mental wellbeing can suffer due to the deprivation of good sleep, something that is all too common these days. Regular massage treatments relax both mind and body, which is often the first step towards better sleep.

The results

The Inner Strength experience was all about using different products - like the paraffin - and techniques to provide warmth, which gave me a very safe, comforting feeling. It wasn't a feeling of working out tough knots - although that did happen to some extent - it was more to relax my mind as much as it was my muscles.

​This treatment was created by the late, great Geraldine Howard, co-founder of Aromatherapy Associates, when she was fighting cancer to help others in a similar position through hard times. Although I have not personally suffered any significant traumas, I, like anyone else, have stress. Sometimes that stress is overwhelming. No matter how heavy your burden, this massage experience is guaranteed to be a great comfort.

Have you had K-Spa's Inner Strength experience? What did you think? Let us know! @sofeminineUK

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