According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy is a profession where the practitioner applies manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body and may include other adjunctive therapies with the intention of positively affecting the health and wellbeing of the client. There are over 250 various massage and bodywork techniques, so no one therapists can be an expert in all of them or even be well familiar with all of them. Here are some of the more common.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Additionally anxiety can contributes to accidents. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:
Swedish Massage—The most common form of massage, is a system of strokes including long flowing strokes, kneading, friction and tapping/hacking movements, combined with range of motion movements of the joints. Works mostly on superficial layers of muscles.
Deep Tissue Massage – Techniques working on the deeper tissues through slow strokes with concentrated pressure on contracted or tense areas. Releases chronic patterns of increased tension in muscles, tendons & fascia.
Sports Massage—For the athlete, sports massage techniques are utilized at all stages: pre-event, post-event, during training, and to expedite rehabilitation after injury. The massage will be different depending on the purpose. Pre event for example will be much quicker shorter and energizing rather than relaxing.
Cupping or Suction Massage---- glass, plastic, silicone or rubber "cups" are placed on the body and a vacuum or suction, negative pressure is applied. This allows very deep work without putting pressure on the body. This reduces pain or discomfort which can occur with other deep pressure work. Benefits and contraindications are similar as for other massage. Cupping may leave light marks call cup marks but these are not the result of tissue damage. Bruises are caused by tissue damage and cupping does not cause damage or bruising.
Asian Body Work-- Utilizes a variety of modalities which may use pressure stretches and manipulation of tissues to effect the body's flow of energy and restoration of balance. Shiatsu—Japanese acupressure massage & Thai massage are popular examples.
Crainio-Scarial—gentle touch method of evaluating and enhancing the function of the central nervous system.
Stone Massage-- The use of warmed or cooled stones to accentuate the effectiveness of other massage techniques, usually Swedish or deep tissue.
Lymphatic Massage-- A very light touch, with wave like movements to assist in lymph drainage and promote the function of the immune system and drain excess fluid accumulations.
Trager—Utilizes rhythmic rocking , shaking, vibration and stretching movements to relax the body and mind.
Hellerwork—A combination of movement reeducation and muscle and connective tissue therapy.
Polarity, Reiki—,Balances the energetic systems of the body. Japanese system of energy work using the life force energy.
Reflexology—Massage of the feet, hands, and/or ears. Stimulates corresponding areas in the body.
BENEFITS OF MASSAGE The benefits of massage are best realized when massage is used frequently. Its the same idea or effect of compounding interest in finance. Each time you get a massage the benefits from the last massages are boosted and multiplied with the effects of the current massage. Research studies often engaged the research participates in massage several times a week. A massage once a year or less, while it will feel good at the time, will have very limited long term effectiveness. Especially if you are using massage therapy for a health problem, it is paramount that you utilize massage therapy frequently. The frequency and length of sessions is best determined by you and an evaluation by the massage therapist and your doctor. Massage is so beneficial it would take a book to list and explain them all. Here are some of the main benefits.
Decrease PMS water retention and cramping.
Promote weight loss in a weight loss program.
Help lower blood pressure in patients with high blood pressure.
Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
Ease medication dependence.
Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
Increase joint flexibility.
Lessen depression and anxiety.
Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
Reduce post-surgery adhesions and swelling.
Reduce spasms and cramping.
Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
Relieve migraine pain.
Relieve arthritis symptoms.
History of Massage Massage is one of the oldest and least invasive forms of treatment. Medical use of message can be found in the ancient Egypt, Asian, Greco/Roman, and Indian cultures. We instinctively use massage when we put pressure on or rub tissues that hurt. Perhaps because of these simple facts it has often been overlooked as a legitimate therapy for health conditions. Modern health care has turned rather to pharmacology and complex technologies for health remedies and health promotion. It was in the 19th century that the founder of Physical Therapy, Dr. Per Henrik Ling developed what we in Europe and the Americas know as Swedish Massage. Today the medical profession places massage therapy under or as part of physical therapy. Due to the unsavory image created by “massage parlors” where sexual services were sold under the guise of legitimate massage, the industry has suffered a great deal and still does. However, the benefits of massage are being increasingly researched and proved to be safe and effective and with the advent of accredited schools for massage and more advanced training, licensure and credentialing for it's practitioners, the status of the profession continues to rise and improve. Massage therapy is now used in many hospitals for all ages from perinatal to geriatric populations and for many different illnesses and injuries. Rehabilitation facilities, hospices, health care centers, chiropractic clinics, pain and drug treatment facilities often offer massage. If they don't they may refer their clients for massage. Insurance companies are beginning to see the benefits of massage therapy and some are beginning to approve massage therapy for various conditions. Massage is usually approved by insurance for automobile injuries and/or workers compensation. If you prescribed physical therapy, insist on a facility that utilizes massage or at least will refer one for massage. To learn more about the many types of massage and bodywork, visit www.massagetherapy.com.