Relaxation and stress relief are benefits of getting a massage; but did you know that proper massage therapy could also help you lose weight, deal with emotional stress and even help your body cleanse itself? Those were benefits outlined by massage therapist Cui Ping Sun, who practises massage and aroma therapy at the Pivot Point Academy in Port-of-Spain. She initially studied beauty therapy and massage in China, but went back to school to specialise in aroma and massage therapy as she appreciated the health benefits it gave to her clients. “There are different types of massages that benefit the body in different ways,” said Sun. For instance, she explained that the Swedish massage, which utilises a variety of massaging techniques, could be used for physical therapy:
“It penetrates deep into the muscle and can help relieve muscle spasms and aches because we knead into the muscle to relax it.
“Most people use the Swedish massage to deal with back pains, stiff neck, muscle pains and sometimes, just to relax.
“It is also good to help you lose weight because it works your fat and muscle tissue.”
“There is the lymphatic massage, which is basically a detoxifying treatment.”
Sun said there are benefits for our circulatory and lymphatic systems. A normal massage stimulates blood circulation, while a lymphatic massage stimulates lymph nodes and pushes body fluids to those nodes to help detoxify and keep the body clean:
“Because of the types of food people eat and stress from work or emotional stress, people get sick a lot and it can sometimes be from toxins left by the food you eat.”
“Even medication leaves toxins because if you get and take tablets, the molecules sizes in the tablet are really big and accumulates in the body and then you feel sluggish and stressed.”
She said the lymphatic massage could help with this. Sun also does an Indian head massage, which she said helps with stress and focuses on the upper part of the body, as well as the Chinese acupressure massage. The latter is done using acupressure points on the body which connect to the brain on meridians, or nerves. Sun also practises aromatherapy and uses it during an aromatherapy massage. Aromatherapy uses fragrance, or scent, as a form of health treatment for the body. “We (aromatherapists) use pure essential oils mixed with carrier oils (an oil obtained from a plant) and we can either apply it in a massage, let a client directly inhale it or we just release the fragrance in the room,” Sun explained. She said clients are usually told to inhale directly when they have sinus problems, for decongestion, respiratory disinfection and emotional or psychological problems. Asked how fragrance could help with emotional disorders, Sun said it goes to the part of the brain that deals with emotions through the nasal passage and works there. She said aromatherapy is also used to help clients lose weight. “It all depends on the type of oils we mix. I have seen it work. It has helped people with menstrual cramps, headaches and stress.”
Sun is a member of the International Federation of Aroma therapists and fully believes in the treatment and its health benefits. “When I was studying aromatherapy, at first I did not really believe in it, but I had to do a case study of 60 people for my course. I decided to do a case study of 100 just to be sure and I saw the results. I thought, hey, this actually works.” Sun said both aromatherapy and massage therapy are flexible treatments that can be tailored to each individual. Aromatherapy is also something people can do at home and is a treatment that is used as needed. After calls to three doctors who said they did not know anything about aromatherapy, I spoke to Dr Allan Hoyte from Diego Martin. “Massages are good for relaxation and stress relief but therapy suggests the use as a form of treatment for something. I have not recommended patients for either massage or aromatherapy,” said Hoyte.