Massage therapy has many techniques associated with it and is the adept manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. Having been scientifically acknowledged as a viable source of healing, this therapy consists of manual techniques which stimulate the movement of blood and lymph through the tissues as well as elongates the muscles, and allows for pressure on our bones to be released, facilitating proper alignment and lessening pain. A massage therapist applies fixed and movable pressure, holding, adjusting, and moving muscles and body tissues. The after-effects are amazing!
By improving the flow of blood and lymph in the lymph glands, massage has the ability to affect the nervous system and enhance the healing of tissues in a variety of ways. These include reducing muscle tension or flaccidity, and affecting the nervous system through sedation or stimulation.
Here are some of the many benefits of massage:
- Deep relaxation and stress reduction
- Enhancing immune system functions and facilitating innate healing response
- Reducing blood pressure
- Emotional or physical stress and reducing anxiety
- Relaxing muscle tension, spasms, stress, and stiffness
- Increases mental stamina such as mental awareness and mental alertness
- Joint and limb flexibility and range of motion increases
- Faster healing & pain reduction of soft tissue injuries…including pulled muscles and sprained ligaments
- Pulmonary function improvements for easier breathing and blood flow
- Tension-related headaches and eyestrain relief
Scar tissue reduction and stimulates health and nourishment of skin
- Changing tension patterns to improve posture
- Affects the muscle and motor developments in infants and children
- Greater focus for exams and sports in students of all ages
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Types of Massage
There are many kinds of Massage Therapies to choose from! Below is a list of some popular choices. Often, Therapists pick and choose or combine modalities to create individual treatments geared specifically towards the needs of their client.
A variety of techniques can be incorporated, including circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, soft, long, kneading strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on the topmost layers of muscles. This is also combined with the movement of the joints.
Abdominal or Stomach Massage:
The technique of manipulating the abdomen and applying a non-invasive pressure in a clockwise motion. The therapist will often apply pressure in small concentrated rotations. Relieving pressure, detoxifying the GI tract, and increasing blood flow. It is also recognized that conditions in the gut can determine influences on mental state and the development of mood disorders. The vagus nerve is understood to be the messenger between the enteric nervous system and the brain, including playing a role in the regular dialogue between higher centers of autonomic regulation and the limbic centers of emotional expression and control.
Upper and lower abdominal treatment to: Align reproductive and abdominal organs to the optimal position. Improve circulation to organs Promote vital circulation flow to support the body’s inherent healing ability. Evaluation of and application of bodywork to improve the alignment of spine, hips, and sacrum.
A type of massage technique that focuses specifically on treating soft tissue aches, pain, and injuries that are associated with recreational activities. This therapy can reduce muscle stiffness and improve relaxation by reducing heart rate and blood pressure.
In Japanese, shiatsu means “finger pressure.” For Shiatsu, 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.
A specialized therapy type that gently assists the lymphatic system in maintaining the body’s fluid balance, blood circulation, and immune mechanisms. The system’s network of vessels and nodes contains lymph, a mixture of water, proteins, immune system components, waste products, and other remnants of cell metabolism. Lymph nodes, which filter out the debris, are found throughout the body, with especially large groups of them in the neck, armpits, and groin. These major collections of lymph nodes ensure that the lymph passes through as many nodes as possible before it returns to the circulatory system.
Utilizing Swedish techniques during pregnancy. Research shows this type of therapy can help reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to women’s prenatal care. This leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health.
Suction cups are used to pull blood to the surface of the skin by creating suction and negative pressure. This softens tight muscles, loosens adhesions, and lifts connective tissue. Used to relieve aching muscles, release joint stiffness, reduces inflammation, reduces musculoskeletal pain
Typically incorporates the use of basalt river rocks heated in a professional stone heater. Stones are placed on specific points of the body with anatomy in mind and/or along with energetic points. Stones may be held in the therapist’s hands while working. Swedish massage techniques are used in conjunction with hot stone placement.
Typically used in conjunction with Swedish massage techniques and adding essential oils (highly concentrated plant oils) to the oil used during the massage. Benefits are realized through the inhalation of these essential oil molecules or by absorbing them through your skin.
Therapeutic Massage (Deep Tissue):
Incorporates a variety of advanced modalities that enhance the body’s natural restorative functioning. Light to firm touch is used to release tension, relax muscles, increase blood and lymph circulation, and impart a sense of calm. These techniques can be used as a collaborative, supportive addition to conventional medical treatment.
Trigger Point Massage:
Most of us will suffer from stiff, achy muscles, and numerous musculoskeletal pain conditions that are caused by “knots”. Trigger point therapy uses a variety of techniques to “deactivate” these painful knots and make them disappear.
Thai massage, which originated in India, has been around for over 2,500 years. Originally regarded as a healing art, traditional Thai massage includes influences from both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. Unlike typical Western-type massages, it doesn’t involve lying on a massage bed while a therapist applies oil to your body and kneads your muscles and pressure points. Instead, you lie fully clothed on a mat on the ground while a practitioner uses stretching, pulling, and rocking techniques to relieve tension, promote relaxation, and improve flexibility and circulation. Sometimes referred to as assisted yoga, Thai massage is focused on improving the flow of energy throughout your body.
Tui Na Massage:
Based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the practitioner works with the meridians (energy channels) throughout the body, using stretches, pressure points, and joint rotations, to balance the body’s vital energy (qi). This technique goes beyond the muscles, bones, and joints to work with the body on a deeper, energetic level and is often used with other TCM therapies including acupuncture, Chinese herbal remedies, moxibustion, and cupping. Used to relieve arthritis, pain, sciatica and muscle spasms, helps with insomnia, constipation, headaches and other disorders related to digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems.
Many different approaches are appropriate for a postpartum mom. A postpartum massage might include acupressure and foot reflexology. It can also include a Swedish or Jamu massage, a traditional Southeast Asian postpartum therapy designed to relax and heal the postpartum body. Some women prefer a lighter style of massage during the postpartum period while others enjoy deeper techniques, myofascial release, or craniosacral therapy.
Infant massage is the process of rubbing an infant’s muscles and stroking the infant in a manner specifically designed for them. Research has shown many benefits of infant massage and parent education programs as well as the positive impact of nurturing touch and communication on bonding, attachment, and development. Offers relaxation & stress reduction, supports bonding & attachment, supports brain & physical development, relieves digestive discomfort, pain, and tension.
Regulatory board New Hampshire Office of Program Support, Licensing & Certification Services Board of Massage Therapy, 129 Pleasant Avenue Concord, NH 03301 Ph: (603) 271-9480 Fax: (603) 271-5590 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
American Massage Therapy Association https://www.amtamassage.org/
Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals https://www.abmp.com/