The ancient Greeks believed that a daily massage was one of the best ways to ensure good health. Experts today agree. Massage lowers blood pressure, improves body function and can help speed up the healing process.

For instance certain types of massage boost circulation to the extremities. A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts including the pooling of fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Good circulation brings damaged, tense muscles the oxygen-rich blood they need to heal.

Massage facilitates circulation because the pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this same pressure causes new blood to flow in. The squeezing and pulling also flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the circulation of the lymph fluid which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs.

Leg Massage

Leg massage stimulates both the blood circulation and the lymphatic system. If done regularly it helps to prevent varicose veins. Any congestion in the lower legs will be lessened with strokes taken up toward the lymph nodes at the back of the knee and in the groin. If legs feel puffy or swollen to the touch, make sure you use the gentlest of pressure. Firm massage on the larger muscles, such as those around the thighs, can dispel tiredness and stimulate a sluggish lymphatic system. Work more lightly over bony areas such as the shins and knees.

To boost circulation, begin at the foot. Sandwich the right foot between your palms and give the foot a fast firm friction rub. Continue for several minutes, then stroke the foot gently but firmly from toes to ankle, keeping it between your palms.

Raise the leg and support it at the ankle with your right hand. Push your left hand firmly up from ankle to knee. After six strokes repeat with the other hand. Repeat this step twice more, then lower the leg.

Move up to the thigh. Give a fast friction rub of the thigh with both palms, followed by slow, firm strokes with the heel of the hand, keeping the fingers relaxed and curved. Repeat on the other foot and leg.

Arm Massage

Tight, clenched arms and hands often reflect insecurity, self-protection and unresolved anger and can cause headaches, neck pain and aching shoulders. Through massage you can liberate and relax the muscles as well as stimulate the circulation.

Kneel or stand halfway along the person’s right side. Raise the person’s left arm from the elbow and hold her forearm at the wrist with your thumb over her pulse. With light finger and thumb pressure, slide the other hand down the lower arm. Swap hands and massage the arm in this way, continuously swapping hands in a flowing movement for several minutes. Repeat on the other arm.

With her arms by her side place your palms over her wrist, one hand on top of the other. Push both hands up the arm to the shoulder, slowly and deeply. Curve your top hand over the top of the shoulder and then slide both hands lightly back down the length of the arm to the fingers. Repeat rhythmically 12 times. Repeat on the other arm.

Backs of Legs And Buttocks

The most sluggish lymphatic system and circulation can be considerably improved with a good massage to the backs of the legs.

Turn the person being massaged face down. In a smooth and continuous movement, stroke up the back of the leg firmly. Continue the stroke up the centre of the leg. At the top of the thigh continue the movement down opposite sides of the leg with one hand on either side until you reach the back of the ankle again.

Repeat the sequence three times, each time increasing the pressure slightly on the upward stroke toward the heart.

Place your palms on the soles of the feet. Slowly and firmly push the hands up over the heels, up the calf, gently over the backs of the knees and more firmly up the thighs and sides of buttocks to the hips. Repeat five times.

Finish the massage back at the foot. Using alternate hands stroke the foot softly from the ankles to the toes to smooth and relax the whole area of each foot.

Place all your fingers (using the thumbs for support at the base of the foot) on top of the foot at the toes. Applying downward pressure move your fingers along the foot in the direction of the heart stopping at the shin. Repeat five times.