Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back
3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians
applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers
recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory
problems. Today, the benefits
of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many
physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial
for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis,
fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility,
smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest,
massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that
can lead to disease and illness.
Massage therapy is one of the best antidotes for stress. We know this is true on an intuitive level. If even the untrained hands of a friend or partner can soothe aches and pains, and diminish anxiety, then imagine the effect of a therapeutic massage by a trained practitioner.
In short, with a therapeutic massage, stress can be significantly reduced. This, in turn, will increase energy, improve your outlook on life, and in the process boost your immune system function.
Swedish Massage –
Myofascial Release –
Deep Tissue Massage
So What Is It Exactly?
Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application
of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the
The application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the
body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving
circulation. There many variations of massaging.
Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement,
and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body.
Meaning of the body. Many times this term is used to denote
a body/mind or whole-body approach as distinguished from a physiology-only
or environmental perspective.
One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, are used to manipulate the soft tissues of the body. The disrobed client is covered by a sheet, with only the area being worked on exposed. Therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping movements, with the application of oil, to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury.
Myofascial release is the three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions and facilitate the emergence of emotional patterns and belief systems that are no longer relevant or are impeding progress. First, an assessment is made by visually analyzing the human frame, followed by the palpation of the tissue texture of various fascial layers. Upon locating an area of fascial tension, gentle pressure is applied in the direction of the restriction. Myofascial release is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Techniques that utilize deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. These techniques require advanced training and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the practitioner from reaching deeper musculature. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis. It is generally integrated with other massage techniques.
Relaxation massage is essentially the same as a gentle Swedish massage that uses smooth, gliding strokes. The primary purpose will be to help you relax, and the massage therapist will probably move at a slower pace and use light pressure.
During a relaxation massage there is less emphasis on working out serious adhesions or knots in the muscle tissue and the therapist won´t push your pain limits in order to get the muscle to release. Sometimes people even fall asleep during a relaxation massage.
There are still substantial health benefits to a relaxation massage, including calming the nervous system, promoting a sense of well-being, improving blood circulation and stimulating the body’s lymphatic system
Massage Therapy Strokes
In addition to there being many different types of massage, therapists also utilize a wide variety of strokes in their practice. Strokes vary in terms of the part of the body that he therapist uses to deliver the stroke, as well as in the part of the recipient´s body to which a particular stroke is administered. Additionally, strokes may very significantly in the intensity of the stroke itself. Following is a description of several common strokes used by massage therapists.
Compression uses a quick rhythmic pumping action to get deep into the muscle. This causes the muscle to relax and become more pliable and spreads the tissue. It is generally performed with full contact of the hand.
This gliding stroke is used a great deal throughout the massage session to apply lubricant to the skin. It is used to relax and stretch a client´s muscles.
Kneading is a firm stroke used on a specific area to help release muscle tension and improve circulation. The therapist gently grasps an area of the body (i.e. calf) with both hands and makes a kneading action similar to that of kneading dough.
Vibrating or jostling the muscle helps to get deep into the muscle.
A light-to medium-pressure stroke which relaxes and stretches the muscles and improves circulation. The therapist will use either the heel of the hand on larger areas (i.e. thigh) or the thumbs on smaller areas (i.e. forearms). With one hand following the other, the therapist applies firm and constant pressure while traveling slowly upward along the muscle.
This stroke can be used to pull and stretch the muscles of the torso and legs. Using alternating hands in a pulling motion, the therapist gradually moves her hands up the client´s body.
This stroke is similar to pulling, but, whereas pulling is performed in an upward motion, wringing is performed across the body or limb.
Friction strokes are deep strokes used around joints and to release adhesions to the muscle. This stroke is typically performed on dense areas of tissue by sinking the thumbs deeply into the muscle and using body weight to gently rock back and forth or in small circular motions.
Percussive strokes, such as rhythmic striking, hacking, and cupping with relaxed hands and wrists stimulate the muscle, improve circulation, and release muscle tension. These strokes are primarily used on, arms, legs, buttocks, shoulders and back (not on spine).