women holding gift boxA massage gift certificate tucked into a holiday card may seem unassuming, but the effects of this present will be powerful.

People turn to massage for stress relief, pain alleviation and relaxation, and massage is appropriate for just about anyone—from healthy adults to seniors and pregnant women to athletes. Massage therapy is also safe and beneficial for people living with conditions including cancer, fibromyalgia and arthritis.

This is why treating the people on your gift list to massage makes sense this holiday season. Regular massage clients will know what to look forward to, and for someone who has never had a massage, a gift certificate can make his or her first session more accessible.

Here are four reasons why massage should be at the top of your holiday gift list, along with suggestions for massage and bodywork specialties to present to friends, colleagues and family:

1. The Gift of Stress Relief

The holidays can be filled with family, friends, fun, food—and freneticism. Gift-buying, overeating and travel can leave any merrymaker feeling tired and stressed. Massage makes the best holiday gift because it calms the nervous system and provides an oasis of respite from the holiday frenzy.

Three types of massage to gift:

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  • Swedish massage: The most well-known type of massage, which utilizes strokes including stroking, kneading, percussion, vibration and friction.
  • Ayurvedic massage: This vigorous massage uses large amounts of warm oil and is one part of the traditional Indian detoxification and rejuvenation program.
  • Stone massage: Heated or cooled stones are placed on the body for energy balancing and a pampering sensation that contributes to the relaxation response.

 

2. The Gift of Pain Removal

From hanging Christmas lights to digging the Hanukkah candles out of the basement, the holidays’ decorating activities can create strain, sprain and pain. Massage makes the best holiday gift because it addresses pain and stiffness by increasing circulation, improving flexibility, and releasing crinkles and tight spots from muscles.

Three types of massage to gift:

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  • Acupressure: An Asian therapy that involves pressing points along the body’s meridians with fingers, thumbs or palms of the hand to stimulate chi and bring about balance and health.
  • Sports massage: This session will feature techniques such as myofascial release, which affects connective tissue by applying pressure in the direction of fascial resistance.
  • Reflexology: A system that entails pressing points on the feet, hands or ears that correspond to systems and organs throughout the body.

 

3. The Gift of Raised Spirits

The holidays aren’t jolly all the time; family conflict, feelings of grief and other mood-stressors can arise, even in the midst of a Kwanzaa celebration. Massage makes the best holiday gift because it can boost mood. The release of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin, is increased during massage, as is the release of serotonin and dopamine.

Three types of massage to gift:

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  • Craniosacral therapy: This light-touch modality uses gentle, soft-tissue techniques to release restrictions in the membranes around the brain and spinal cord.
  • Reiki: An energetic healing system that utilizes off-the-body hand placements to transmit healing energy from the practitioner to the recipient.
  • Geriatric massage: This session will feature massage techniques modified for safe application to older people, who might arrive at a session with issues related to joint pain or fragile skin.

 

4. The Gift of Ease

Give yourself the gift of a super-simple present purchase. Massage makes the best holiday gift because professional massage therapists offer gift certificates for sale, via in-person sales, a website or a Facebook page. Whether you purchase now or at the last minute, your gift of massage will be the easiest gift you give this holiday season—and the most appreciated.

Three types of massage to gift:

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  • Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy: The Ashiatsu practitioner uses body weight and foot compression, while supported by overhead wooden bars, on a client who is lying down.
  • Pregnancy massage: This session will feature massage techniques modified for safe application to pregnant clients.
  • Facelift massage: This session might entail lymphatic-drainage strokes to firm sagging facial and neck skin, ease away facial lines, stimulate blood and oxygen, and release toxins. The treatment can also involve hot towel wraps and oils.

Virtually anyone on your list will appreciate the gift of massage therapy this holiday season.

 

About the Author

Karen MenehanKaren Menehan is MASSAGE Magazine’s editor in chief. She has also served as MASSAGE Magazine’s editorial assistant, managing editor and editor. Menehan has reported and edited for additional publications and organizations, including Imagine Magazine, the Sacramento Bee newspaper and the LIVESTRONG Foundation.

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