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Massage has been practiced for thousands of
years. Today, if you need or want a massage,
you can choose from among 80 massage
therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures,
movements, and techniques. These all involve
pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles
and other soft tissues with hands and fingers.
Sometimes even forearms, elbows, or feet
The most common type of massage is Swedish massage therapy. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles. This is also combined with movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it may even help after an injury. The four common strokes of Swedish massage are:
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Deep tissue massage is best for giving attention to certain painful, stiff “trouble spots” in your body. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin. Though less rhythmic than other types of massage, deep tissue massage can be quite therapeutic -- relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back sprain.
Developed to help with muscle systems used for a particular sport, sports massage uses a variety of approaches to help athletes in training -- before, during, or after sports events. You might use it to promote flexibility and help prevent injuries. Or, it may help muscle strains, aiding healing after a sports injury.
Ever gone to a county fair, music festival, or conference and envied other people getting chair massages? Or, maybe you’re lucky enough to work at a company that offers 15- to 20-minute massages as a regular benefit. Onsite, chair massages are done while you’re seated fully clothed in a portable, specially designed chair. They usually involve a massage of your neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands.
In Japanese, shiatsu means “finger pressure.” For shiatsu massage, the therapist uses varied, rhythmic pressure on certain precise points of the body. These points are called acupressure points, and they are believed to be important for the flow of the body’s vital energy, called chi. Proponents say shiatsu massage can help relieve blockages at these acupressure points.
During a Thai massage, the therapist uses his or her body to move the client into a variety of positions. This type of massage includes compression of muscles, mobilization of joints, and acupressure.
HOT STONE MASSAGE
For this kind of massage, the therapist places warmed stones on certain areas of the body, such as acupressure points. The stones may be used as massage tools or be temporarily left in place. Used along with other massage techniques, hot stones can be quite soothing and relaxing as they transmit heat deep into the body.
Reflexology uses hand, thumb, and finger techniques to stimulate certain areas of the feet. These areas are believed to correspond to different parts of the body. The massage, then, is expected to promote health and wellbeing.
During pregnancy, your body goes through major changes. Pregnancy massage can help with these changes by reducing stress, decreasing arm and leg swelling, and relieving muscle and joint pain. Massage may be particularly helpful during a time when medication and other medical options may be more limited. Using specially designed massage pillows, the massage therapist will help get you into a comfortable position for this type of massage.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MASSAGE?
Many types of massage offer benefits beyond simple relaxation. Here are just a few of the health problems that may benefit from massage. Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition, though.
The Benefits of Massage
In an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, noninvasive and humanistic approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. So what exactly are the benefits to receiving regular massage and/or bodywork treatments?
Alexander Technique - A movement reeducation therapy that was created by a mid- 19th century actor who tried to understand his own movement dysfunctions on stage. The emphasis is on observing and modifying improper movement patterns, thereby reducing physical stress on the body. Craniosacral Therapy - A gentle method of manipulating the body’s craniosacral system (consisting of thin membranes and cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord) in an attempt to improve the function of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress and enhance health and resistance to disease.
Reiki - A therapy based on universal life energy that serves to align chakras and bring healing energy to organs and glands. Utilizes visualization as practitioner acts as a channel for the life energy.
Rolfing - Used to reorder the major body segments, this technique utilizes physical manipulation and movement awareness to bring the body into vertical alignment. Treatments are offered in a 10-session series. Shiatsu - A deep, finger-pressure technique using the traditional acupuncture points of Asian healing. Works to unblock energy flows and restore balance to meridians and organs.