Massage Therapy: Types of Massage

From what began as a soothing touch and comfort giving action, massage has developed into a major stream of therapy. There are several kinds of massage strokes, which are practised as per the requirement of the situation.

Deep Tissue Massage : This is a massage technique that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue to release tension in the body with the use of slow strokes and deep finger pressure. The pressure either flows or goes across the grain of muscles, tendons and fascia.

The Relaxation Massage : The relaxation massage is a smooth, flowing style that promotes general relaxation, improves circulation and range of movement, and relieves muscular tension.

Swedish Massage : This is a popular European system of massage, which uses long strokes, kneading, and friction techniques on the more superficial layers of the muscles, combined with active and passive movements of the joints. Its strokes are used in sports massage also.

Remedial Massage : The remedial or rehabilitation massage is a paramedical treatment that helps to restore function to injured “soft tissues” (muscles, tendons and ligaments). It involves using a variety of corrective techniques for the rehabilitation of injuries and chronic pain, general pain relief and improved muscle function and mobility. The Therapy may involve the use of various types of Massage techniques, as well as a range of other physical treatments to assist the recovery.

Techniques which may be employed include myofascial release and stretching, Trigger Point Therapy, Deep Transverse Friction, PNF stretching and general stretching. In addition, one may be asked to perform some activities at home to assist the process of recovery.

Sports Massage : Sports massage is a highly specialised area of massage, which focuses on muscle systems relevant to a particular sport. It combines different massage techniques to enhance sports performance and recuperation. In the modern, competitive world of sports it forms an effective component of any training program. Only those who are qualified should administer this particular type of massage because if done wrongly, it could have serious repercussions.

Trigger Point Therapy : The Trigger Point Therapy (TPT) is also known as myotherapy or neuromuscular therapy. It involves concentrated finger pressure against painful, irritated areas in specific muscles to relieve spasms and pain. Trigger points are hypersensitive/hypercontracted areas in muscles, which when active give a predictable pattern of pain referral.

The main advantage of learning these patterns is that if you have pain in a particular area that stems from a trigger point, knowing the patterns will help to determine which muscle to work to help alleviate that pain.

This is important since pain can be as distant from the originating muscle as the length of the arm. For example, the pain referral pattern for the muscle that runs across the breast bone down to your pubic bone on the front of your body, can include two pain bands across your mid back and lower back. Other than causing referred pain, trigger points may cause stiffness and decreased range of movement and are also capable of triggering autonomic symptoms such as sweating and dizziness. TPT involves applying a kind of pressure that pushes all the blood and fluids out of the area of trigger point for about 10-15 seconds. This can sometimes be applied when coming across unexpected, hypersensitive areas as well as those we are looking for.

Aromatherapy Massage : Combining the therapeutic properties of essential oils with specific Massage techniques to promote health and well-being is known as Aromatherapy massage. Aromatherapy massage is being increasingly used to alleviate stress related problems and many other ailments.

Reflexology : This therapy is performed by using thumb and finger pressure on the reflex points of the feet (which correspond to all areas of the body). It is a special procedure performed to assist in achieving balance within the body.

Pregnancy Massage : There are a number of possible negative effects of pregnancy that can be alleviated or prevented by the use of massage therapy. Some of them are fatigue, varicose veins, neck, back and shoulder pain, irritability, mood swings caused by hormonal imbalances, headaches, pain or discomfort during labour and birth and even morning sickness. Pregnancy massage can also be of great benefit to the baby in womb.

Massage improves blood flow to all areas and increases lymphatic circulation. This means that greater nutrition is brought to the tissues of the body and better waste removal occurs, both of which are essential for the development of a healthy baby. Massage also relaxes the mother, which is important because stress is known to be a likely component in premature labour as it can build the abdominal levels of toxins and chemicals in both the mother and the child. Finally, massage increases the mother’s awareness of her body and increases her inability to listen to its messages during labour and birth.

Oriental Therapies : The Oriental massage therapies are based on systems of finger pressure massage, such as Acupressure and Shiatsu. These therapies treat points along the acupressure meridians (the invisible channels of energy flow in the body), aiming to release discomfort and rebalance energy. Massage therapists believe that energy blocked along these meridians can cause physical discomfort, so the aim is to release the blockages and re-balance the flow of energy in the body.

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