Massage therapy involves applying pressure or vibration to the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints. A massage therapy treatment is applied to a part of the body, or successively to the whole body; objectives may be to relieve psychological stress, heal injury, manage pain, improve circulation and relieve tension.
Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be also be termed remedial massage therapy or therapeutic massage.
The massage session
Most massage techniques involve the client being treated lying down on a massage table. Although the massage subject is generally unclothed, their body is "draped" with towels or sheets. This also helps keep the subject warm. Intimate parts of the body are normally not touched at all in therapeutic massage.
The treatment normally starts with the client face down for the first part of the session, and they then roll over (hidden by the towels) for the second part of the session, which is carried out face up.
Types of massage
There are well over 150 different types of massage therapy. Various styles of massage have developed from a number of sources.
This style utilizes long, flowing strokes. Pressure is mainly applied on the skin level. The main purpose is for relaxation by pushing around or kneading the muscle groups. Oil, cream, or lotion is applied on the skin to reduce friction and allow smooth pushing and pulling of the tissues. This style of massage is generally attributed to the Swedish fencing master and gymnastics teacher Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839).
Trigger point therapy
A trigger point is an area of a muscle that refers pain sensations to other parts of the body. Trigger Point Therapy applies pressure to these points leading to immediate release of tension and improved muscular functioning. This work is based upon the trigger point research and manuals of Dr. Janet Travell.
Sometimes this work is incorporated into other styles of massage therapy such as neuromuscular therapy (NMT).
Deep tissue massage
Pressure is applied on the muscles in order to reach deep muscle groups. It is allegedly effective for sport injury. The drawback is the surface pain afterwards resulted from pressing the skin too hard. Usually only a minimal amount of lubricant is used on the skin. The types of strokes used are effleurage and petrissage.
Sole or Foot massage (also known as Reflexology)
This is generally practiced by the Chinese, as some believe that each spot on the sole of the foot corresponds to an internal organ. The theory supposes that an ailment of an internal organ will be associated with the nerve ending on the sole of the foot.
Before the massage, the patient's feet are soaked for about ten minutes in a foot bath, typically a dark colored of hot water and Chinese herbs. The massage therapist uses liberal amounts of medicated cream, to moisturize the foot and to provide lubrication. The knuckles on the therapist's hand are usually used to provide a hard and smooth implement for the massage.. As pressure is applied to the sole, theory holds that a healthy patient should not feel any strong pain. Painful spots, reflexolgists believe, reflect illnesses of other parts of the body. The practitioner rubs and massages the painful spots to break down rough spots and accumulated crystals and increase circulation.
The ailments are healed when the sore spots of the sole are treated and removed by massage. Based on this theory, some shoe liners are made with pressure points to stimulate the soles of the feet to promote better health of the overall body. The nature of these "crystals" has yet to be elucidated or demonstrated scientifically. Regardless of the actual correlation of reflexology to internal organs, many enjoy it for the mix of stimlulation and relaxation.
Tags: deep tissue massage, master and gymnastics teacher, Janet Travell
- Myofascial Therapy
- Ten things we do at Pain Busters Clinic to help fight fibromyalgia
- Fibromyalgia Treatment – What can the Myotherapist do for the Fibromyalgic client?
- Myofascial therapy: Frequently Asked Questions
- Using the Emotional Freedom Technique for Physical Pain