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Massage & Massage Therapy

Massage or massage therapy are systems of structured palpation or movement of the soft tissue of the body. The massage may include, but is not limited to, such techniques as stroking, kneading, gliding, percussion, friction, vibration, compression, passive or active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement; effleurage (either firm or light soothing, stroking movement, without dragging the skin, using either padded parts of fingertips or palms); petrissage (lifting or picking up muscles and rolling the folds of skin); or tapotement (striking with the side of the hand, usually with partly flexed fingers, rhythmic movements with fingers or short rapid movements of sides of the hand). These techniques may be applied with or without the aid of lubricants, salt or herbal preparations, hydromassage, thermal massage, or a massage device that mimics or enhances the actions possible by human hands. The purpose of the practice of massage is to improve the general health and well-being of the recipient. Massage does not include the diagnosis of a specific pathology, the prescription of drugs or controlled substances, spinal manipulation, or those acts of physical therapy that are outside the scope of massage therapy.

Relaxation vs. Therapeutic

Massage for relaxation or stress relief.

If you’re feeling tense, overworked, and underappreciated, a massage can be a great way to get yourself back into a happier, more relaxed state. The benefits of massage are numerous, including lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation to tight areas, and creating an overall sense of well-being.

The most common massage technique in this category is Swedish massage, which uses long, gliding strokes along with muscle kneading and a few other methods. Another popular form of massage in this category includes hot stone massage. Relaxation massage is one of the few things in life that feels good and is suitable for you.

Therapeutic Massage for treating pain, injuries, and specific conditions

When you have an acute or chronic injury, are experiencing pain, or are looking for help with a specific condition, you’ll want to better understand which techniques will be most effective.

Painful issues commonly treated by massage include sciatica, back and neck pain, and muscle strains. Effectively treating these issues requires an excellent understanding of muscular anatomy and deeper, more specific massage techniques.

Among the more popular of these techniques is Neuromuscular massage. Practitioners trained in this method understand how the nervous and muscular systems work together and can effectively treat several painful conditions in very targeted and specific ways.

Benefits of medical massage therapy:

The specific benefit of medical massage therapy depends on the condition that is being treated. However, benefits of the treatment can include:

•Releasing sore and tight muscles that can cause a lack of blood supply to soft tissues and hypersensitivity to touch; known as Ischemia

•Relieving nerve entrapment and compression

•Deactivating Myofascial trigger points

•Decreasing pain and inflammation

•Improving circulation and alleviating stress

•Aiding digestion

•Improving flexibility and range of motion

•Calming the nervous system

•Improving coordination and posture

•Helping prevent future chronic pain conditions

While a spa massage may successfully relax you or temporarily relieve some stress, a medical massage will produce tangible results. Medical massage therapy treatment is planned out with a specific goal in mind, and your massage will factor into a more extensive treatment plan based on your health needs and goals.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage:

The fluid in the lymphatic system helps remove waste and toxins from the bodily tissues. Some health conditions can cause lymph fluid to build up. Lymphatic drainage massages can benefit people with lymphedema, fibromyalgia, post-surgery, post-liposuction, and more.

Lymphatic massage can reduce swelling and improve circulation throughout the lymphatic system. Lymphatic massage usually forms part of a treatment program called decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT).

People should not have a lymphatic massage if they have congestive heart failure, blood clots, kidney problems, infections, or circulation problems. If a person has any medical conditions, they should talk to a doctor before trying a lymphatic massage.

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage focuses on the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue in your body using firm pressure and slow, deliberate strokes. People who suffer from chronic pain, high blood pressure, muscle injury, and overuse tend to benefit most from deep tissue massage.

Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage

Even if you don’t suffer from a chronic condition or severe injury, you can experience numerous benefits from regular deep tissue sessions. These benefits include:

•Lowered blood pressure

•Reduced stress hormone levels

•Enhanced mood

•Better relaxation

A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that lower blood pressure occurred after only one 45 to 60-minute deep tissue session. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, deep tissue massage increases naturally occurring oxytocin and serotonin, powerful chemicals that help a person cope with stress and enhance their feelings of well-being.

Additionally, deep tissue massage helps break up scar tissue, which is often the cause of continuous pain and stiffness after surgery.l

What to Expect During a Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue is similar to Swedish massage but uses slower, deeper strokes. The massage professional may even use specially designed massage tools or their elbow in certain areas to apply pressure.

Be sure to communicate openly with your massage therapist about the pressure they’re using and your comfort level. Some pain is expected, but it should be manageable and should never feel like you’re “bracing” your muscles.

Chair Massage

Known as seated massage, chair massage, or on-site massage, this technique involves using a specially designed massage chair in which the client sits comfortably. The modern chair massage was originally developed by David Palmer. Still, the technique is centuries-old, with some Japanese block prints illustrating people having just emerged from a nearby bath, receiving massage while seated on a low stool. Seated massage includes bodywork and somatic techniques, such as shiatsu, amma, and Swedish massage, provided to the fully clothed client in various settings, including businesses, airports, and street fairs.

Hot Stone Massage

Hot stone massage therapy not only feels amazingly relaxing, but it can also provide a host of other benefits associated with massage. Hot stones allow you to achieve a deeper level of relaxation as the stones serve as a grounding force that makes it difficult to stay stressed very long. Hot stone massage has a calming effect that relieves pain, reduces stress, and promotes deep relaxation.

Benefits of Hot Stone Massage

With hot stone massage, tension melts away due to heat, allowing your massage therapist to access deeper layers of muscle. This results in a relaxation of muscle tension that accompanies a host of other benefits, including:

•Improved circulation

•Increased metabolism

•Chronic pain relief

•Fewer muscle spasms

•Improved joint flexibility

•Improved mood

What to Expect During Your Hot Stone Massage

When you receive a massage involving hot stone massage protocols, your therapist will place smooth, water-heated stones at key points along your body. They will combine this practice with other massage methods to deliver the best experience and provide the most healing.

With regular hot stone massage sessions, you will begin to notice less pain and an improved ability for your body to handle stress.

Myofascial Release Massage

Myofascial release massage works the web-like protective band that covers your body’s muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, and tissues. This protective band is made of elastin and collagen fibers. The band or fascia is dynamic, meaning that it responds to forces, either internal or external and resists these forces to protect the area it covers.

When you sustain an injury or experience acute or chronic inflammation in an area, you can develop scar tissue on the fascia. When this occurs, it loses its dynamic nature and becomes hardened. In this form, it can restrict natural movement, create biomechanical imbalances, and cause pain.

Myofascial release massage focuses on breaking up the hardened fascia to restore a healthy level of flexibility and range of motion. The massage therapist uses their hands to stretch and break down the fascia to regain precious flexibility. The process takes time, and a specific area can be focused on over five or more minutes. Several sessions are usually required to achieve lasting improvements.

The primary benefit of myofascial release is the lessening of pain during movements. Over time, flexibility and range of motion can be increased using this technique. Treatment sessions will include an initial visual assessment of the client’s posture and movement as well.

If you’re starting to feel old injuries flaring up again, consider myofascial release to combat the pain and regain your natural mobility.

Prenatal Massage

Pregnancy is a beautiful – but often uncomfortable – time for a woman. As she grows new life within her body, she experiences aches, pains, and fatigue like she’s never known. Fortunately for expecting women, prenatal massage helps relieve those symptoms so that they can enjoy the miracle of their unborn baby.

The Benefits of Prenatal Massage

Massage is an important part of prenatal care. It not only relieves pregnancy discomfort but it also allows your body to do what is necessary to keep you and your baby healthy. Here are a few things a prenatal massage can do for you:

•Reduce stress;

•Relieve back, neck, and head pain;

•Reduce swelling;

•Alleviate cramps;

•Lessen stress on weight-bearing joints;

•Improve sleep quality;

•Encourage blood and lymph circulation;

•Minimize anxiety and depression associated with hormones.

Prenatal massage isn’t just a one-time fix. Regular massages can provide continuous symptom relief throughout your pregnancy. For instance, prenatal massages help you better manage headaches by keeping trigger points and muscles spasms to a minimum. And the release of serotonin, the body’s natural anti-pain chemical, during massage acts to combat recurring aches and pains.

What to Expect During Your Prenatal Massage

Prenatal massage differs from regular massage in a few ways, but the main modification you’ll notice is the position in which you lie. To alleviate extra strain on the lower back and pelvic areas that can occur with the pressure of massage techniques, you’ll lie on your side with soft, supportive cushions propping you up. Or, if you prefer, during your second trimester, you may lie on your back with a soft wedge under one hip for elevation. Either way ensures your comfort while allowing your therapist to apply the right amount of pressure where needed.

The most important thing to remember about prenatal massage is that communication with your therapist is critical. She’ll work with you to find the ideal position, but you must let her know if you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort during the session.

Staying Safe During Prenatal Massage

Women with normal, healthy pregnancies benefit significantly from regular prenatal massages. If, however, you have a high-risk pregnancy or are early in your first trimester, speak with your doctor or midwife before beginning a massage therapy program. While the benefits are available to you, too, it’s important to get the go-ahead from your physician.

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