UP TO THE CHALLENGE: Alex tries her hand at massage

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OVER the years, I have enjoyed different massages around the world ranging from vigorous Thai massages to invigorating ones in a Moroccan hammam.

But although I have enjoyed the massages, I have always wanted to learn how to do one myself.

To fulfil my dream, I went to Scissors Hair and Beauty, in Station Parade, Tarring Road, Worthing, to learn all the ins and outs of massage, with my colleague Sheena Campbell bravely volunteering as my guinea pig. Holly Pyle, the beauty therapist at Scissors, taught me how to do a Swedish massage, working on Sheena’s back, shoulders and neck before massaging her legs and arms.

The Swedish massage uses five styles of long, flowing strokes and is meant to be relaxing as well as good for dispelling tension and reducing joint stiffness.

However, before I even started oiling up I had to learn what questions a therapist must ask before starting the treatment.

Questions include asking the client whether they have any injuries, if they are pregnant, if they have had a recent operation or are undergoing treatment for cancer.

As the massage is working the toxins through the body and out through the lymph nodes in the armpits, neck, groin and back of legs, it is not recommended for many cancer sufferers as it could spread the disease.

I also learnt the importance of checking if the client has a nut allergy, as many massage oils contain the ingredient.

First of all I had to warm up the grapeseed oil in my hands before I started at the base of Sheena’s spine.

I then had to use firm pressure up each side of the spine before moving down the sides of the back.

The next stroke I learnt was how to massage in circles around the shoulder blades before I started trying to work on Sheena’s tight knots in her shoulders. Other strokes used on the back included working along each side of the spine with my thumbs and also working on the sides by grabbing the skin and pulling it in a folding motion.

When I moved onto the legs I learnt how you must exert more pressure as you work up the legs to encourage the blood to flow towards the heart. I used both hands at first to slide up the leg before I started kneading.

I then did a chopping motion on the thighs, which is designed to help break down fatty deposits and is very good to get rid of cellulite.

The arms were slightly trickier to work on as it is difficult to hold the arm in a comfortable position for the client.

The movements used were similar to massaging the legs but also included massaging the joints in the hand and around the wrist area to help remove tension caused by working on computers.

I never appreciated how much hard work a massage was or how much you needed to learn beforehand – this was not a quick rub down.

In fact, by the end of the hour my hands, back and legs ached so much I felt I needed a massage after all that hard work.