Stress is an inevitable part of life, and it is this part of life that the massage chairs were built to handle. Hence, stress relief on the agenda of every manufacturer. In a classic case of “too many cooks spoil the broth” though, the universally accepted equivalence between massage chairs and stress relief has led manufacturers to come up with settings and massage types that need not or should not be applied under all circumstances as solutions to the question – how to reduce stress. Thankfully, almost all massage chairs come with some basic massage functions that can be tweaked to improve one’s physical and mental health, based on his/her stress level. Deciding which level of stress you have and what remedy you need is not easy, but we have tried to put forth the main massages in a concise manner below.
Stretch Massage (for low to medium stress)
A replication of the basic muscle stretching carried out during light yoga or tai-chi, this massage helps elongate the muscles by relaxing them and then rubbing them to increase blood flow. Since a large part of the stress present in the body is due to the uneven exertion of muscles during the day, such massage is vital to evening out the muscles to their natural position and thereby reducing the aches and pains that add to the physical sensation of stress. These changes in turn can aid in curbing the amount of emotional or mental stress one is undergoing.
To improve the efficacy of this massage:
- At the beginning of the massage session, set the stroke length to long and the massage session duration to not less than 20 minutes. If a speed setting is available, set this to slow or medium.
- Initiate this massage process when you begin your series of massage sessions. This will prepare the muscles for receiving other types of massages better.
- Note when the stretch massage is becoming excessive, as this may cause muscle fatigue and tire you out instead of acting as an answer to the question how to reduce stress. Only in exceptionally stressful conditions (when ideally you should be going for other massage options but don’t have them in your massage chair settings) should you repeat the process more than once.
- Change the settings to your favourite or to any default setting you like, and proceed with the other massages as you normally would.
Note: This massage should be avoided after strenuous physical workouts as in such conditions, the muscles are already stretched to their maximum and the blood flow is massive and straining to provide enough oxygen. If a stretch massage is introduced at this stage, the flow of blood may be disrupted, thereby leading to excess build up of lactic acid (a by-product of the muscle contraction-relaxation cycle) and carbon dioxide in the region.
Thai Massage/s (for medium stress)
One of the ancient answers to the eternal question of how to reduce stress, these massages are part of the healing sciences associated with Buddhist monks. Thai Massage/s focus on the body’s central meridian, analysing and tapping into the energy networks that run all over the body. It is believed that if all energy is focused on the central meridian, the disruptive forces of the body, which are the primary cause of stress, will be reduced.
Thai massage/s is/are one of the features to be included among vital features for choosing products, and is/are not as common a feature of massage chairs as is considered to be. If it is present, it is generally wise to go along with the settings provided. If it is not, a moderately effective replication can be achieved by using the reflexology and compression massage techniques in tandem with moderate to high intensity. Again, the process should not be repeated more than once.
LomiLomi Massage (Moderate to high stress)
Lomilomi is suggested as a high stress buster and mot as a low stress buster primarily because it is one of the more complex, time consuming and difficult to customize massages available on a massage chair. If you have the patience and expertise to customize lomilomi, you can freely apply it to virtually any stressful scenario you like.
For beginners with moderate to high stress, the following steps can be useful:
- Begin with a simple massage that focuses on all parts of the body. Stretch massage is a great candidate for this section as it enhances blood circulation and improves the odds of lomilomi beating the stress.
- After 10-15 minutes of this massage, shift to lomilomi. Traditional lomilomi covers the whole body (except parts of the head), and while the coverage may vary depending on the size and features of the machine, it is not advisable to carry out any other massages in tandem with it.
- Once the massage is complete, you can turn off the massage chair and relax for about 5-10 minutes, as this is mandated after a lomilomi session.
- Complete the massage routine by resuming a low impact massage for 5-10 minutes.
Swedish Massage (High Stress)
While not common enough to be counted as one of the critical factors in choosing the ideal shiatsu massage chair, the presence of a Swedish massage option can be highly ameliorative in cases where stress is leading to serious health issues like blood sugar and high blood pressure. A combination of various massage techniques, this system is specifically aimed at reducing the stress-inducing hormones like cortisol and epinephrine, and thus providing the body some much-needed relaxation.
To customize Swedish massage further for added benefits:
- Stop any processes or additional massages that the machine may be planning to carry out alongside the Swedish massage, since this massage is meant to be applied alone and at a gap of 5-10 minutes from other massage types.
- Choose medium stroke length and medium intensity for the Swedish massage. Start the massage and continue with it for 20 minutes.
- Keep a time-gap of 5-10 minutes before the next massage, staying perfectly calm and relaxed during this time.
- Carry out other medium intensity massages to ensure a well-rounded massage session, since the Swedish massage does not cover certain parts of the body.
It is true that some of the most stressed out people are also those with health issues that make one or more of these above massages unviable or difficult to carry out. For instance, if there is a stress related sprain in the back or calves, it is almost always inadvisable to carry out any of the above types, as most involve muscle stretching and this can create grave problems later. Hence, it is vital that you check out the list of who should and shouldn’t use a massage chair, and consult your physician before carrying out the above massages. If you do get the green light though, you can rest assured that the above massage solutions to how to reduce stress will go a long way in promoting one’s health in the immediate and also in the long run.