MASSAGE

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 are used.

Swedish Massage
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:

  • Effleurage: A smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue
  • Petrissage: The squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage
  • Friction: Deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
  • Tapotement: A short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand.
  • NEUROMUSCULAR THERAPY MASSAGE Neuromuscular therapy is a form of soft tissue manipulation that aims to treat underlying causes of chronic pain involving the muscular and nervous systems. This medically oriented form of massage addresses trigger points (tender muscles points), circulation, nerve compression, postural issues, and biomechanical problems that can be caused by repetitive movement injuries.

    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.

    SPORTS MASSAGE
    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.

    CHAIR MASSAGE
    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.

    SHIATSU MASSAGE
    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.

    THAI MASSAGE
    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
    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.

    PREGNANCY MASSAGE
    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.
  • Back pain. More than one study has shown the effectiveness of massage therapy for back pain. In fact, one 2003 study showed it worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain -- reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.
  • Headache. Another type of pain -- headache -- also responds to massage therapy, as shown by more than one study. Massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.
  • Osteoarthritis. In the first clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of Swedish massage for knee osteoarthritis, participants who received a one-hour massage either one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness, and function. The control group had no such change.
  • Cancer. Used as a complement to traditional, Western medicine, massage can promote relaxation and reduce cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment. It may help reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, or depression, for example, or improve the function of your immune system.
  • Anxiety. A review of more than 12 studies shows that massage helps relieve depression and anxiety. It lowered levels of cortical by up to 50%. And massage increased levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.

  • 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?
  • Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
  • Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.
  • Increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ - the skin.
  • Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles
  • Reduces spasms and cramping
  • Increases joint flexibility.
  • Reduces recovery time, helps prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminates subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.
  • Releases endorphins - the body’s natural painkiller - and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.
  • Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.
  • Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.
  • Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication.
  • Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.
  • Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays.

  • Body Therapies
    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.