By Karen Reed, Managing Editor at Positive Health Wellness. Shared with permission of PositiveHealthWellness.com
Massages may seem like a modern way to treat yourself and relieve stress, but they’ve been used for centuries. Each country has its version, with other types slipped in between. You can get a massage that is gentle and involves aromatherapy or others that involve elbows or feet digging deep into the muscles.
The type of massage you need will depend on the goals you have at the end. It will depend on the things you want to get out of your massage. Do you want something that is good for deep tissue relaxation or are you after a more sensual with mental benefits?
It’s possible to get massages specifically for pain relief. Others can help you overcome ailments, relieve symptoms, or heal injuries.
Just because your friend believes one type of massage is better, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Here’s a look at all the types of massages you could try, with their benefits explained.
The Most Common Swedish Massage
There are high chances that you’ve heard of people get a Swedish massage. Phoebe from Friends often performed this type of massage and had plenty of clients visit to receive the benefits.
Swedish massages are therapeutic. They involve long and soft strokes that knead gently into the muscles. Between the strokes, there are tapping, rhythmic ones to help the upper layers of the muscles. Together the strokes will help to improve joint movement, relieve tension, and energize the body. There are also studies that show individuals receive help after suffering an injury.
During the Swedish massage, your professional will perform four strokes. The first is a smooth stroke that glides across your tissues known as the “effleurage.” This stroke is designed to relax the soft tissue in your body to get you ready for the next set of strokes.
Your professional will then move onto the “petrissage,” which involves rolling, squeezing, and kneading of the massage. Thiscan offer more relaxation benefits. It’s possible to release knots in the muscle and help to create a sense of stress release throughout the body. When receiving the massage, you will feel the muscles physically relax, helping you get rid of the build-up of stress hormones in the body.
The next stroke is called “friction,” and involves deep movements that are circular in nature. They will force the tissues within the muscles to rub against each other causing friction across them. This friction helps to get rid of the scar tissue and increase blood flow around the body. Your muscles will gain more oxygen helping you to feel revitalized and ready for action.
Finally, the professional masseuse will perform the “tapotement,” which is the tapping strokes many people have seen performed in a Swedish massage. The masseuse will either use the edges of the hands, the fingers, or cupped hands to tap away at the muscles quickly and sharply. The upper layers of the muscles are affected, improving blood flow here and getting rid of surface knots or pain.
If you’ve never had a massage before, the Swedish massage is one of the best options. It’s an introduction, as it uses alittle pressure to help get major benefits.
Manipulate Soft Tissue with the Neuromuscular Therapy Massage
If you suffer from chronic pain, you want to consider a neuromuscular therapy massage. This type of massage focuses on the soft tissue, helping to improve the nervous and muscular systems—as the name suggests.
You will need to make sure the masseuse is trained in this type of massage. It has a medical element, targeting specific trigger points in the body depending on the type of chronic pain you suffer. These trigger points are the most tender sections of the body, aiming to improve circulation and posture. The improved blood flow will mean that all muscles get enough oxygen to help them relax and work effectively. The improved posture will help to eliminate unnecessary pressure on nerves.
Those who suffer pain from repetitive movements wherever they are in the body will also find benefits. The massage targets the pressure points in these specific parts of the body.
This type of massage is commonly mistaken with the trigger point massage. There are many similarities between the two, as the trigger point massage will focus on the muscles where the injury or pain is. The masseuse, in this case, will treat the trigger point that is sending the signals of pain to somewhere else in the body—causing referral pain. By treating the trigger point, the referral pain disappears as there is no signal sent to that part of the body.
However, the neuromuscular therapy massage is a subtype of the trigger point massage, which is why there’s a common misconception. The neuromuscular therapy massage is more focused on treating muscles spasms, which cause chronic pain in other parts of the body.
There is often some pain experienced with a neuromuscular therapy or trigger point therapy massage. The pain is due to the pressure on the tender parts of the body. As more blood flows to these parts of the muscles, the pain will subside.
Deep Tissue Massage for Trouble Spots
If you have a certain part of the body that is continually causing trouble, you may want to consider a deep tissue massage. This is exactly as it sounds: a massage deep within the tissues of your muscles. It’s one of the most painful types of massages you will experience, but also one of the most beneficial options. It’s also one of the most popular for those with sports injuries and chronic, acute pain.
A massage therapist needs to be trained in deep tissue massages to avoid doing damage to the muscles. Rather than focusing on the whole body, the masseuse will focus on the troublesome spots, focusing not just on the muscles, but on the tissues and tendons deep within the skin. There is less focus on the rhythm and more focus on the deliberate and slow strokes.
Pain can be caused by an injury, poor posture, or strain and stress. This type of massage will get right into those muscles and rectify the issue right away.
The therapist will use the elbows or knuckles to get into the muscles because the fingertips and heels of the hands just aren’t accurate enough. You will need to speak up during the massage if it isn’t right. It is possible to go too deep or not deep enough, so talk about the pressure you feel and don’t be embarrassed to ask for the pressure to be lessened or heavier.
Do not opt for this massage while still physically healing from an injury. It is best during physical therapy after the healing process to breakdown the scar tissue that is left behind. If you want a treatment during the injury healing process, you want our next option.
Heal with a Sports Massage
There are individuals training every day in creating the best sports massage for healing needs. Every professional athlete will have a trained professional with them when they travel to make sure they are free from injuries and pain. In fact, athletes hire a sports massage therapist for before and during their events, not just after.
Some sports massages can help to improve flexibility. It is possible to prevent injuries from occurring. However, most of the massages are used to treat current injuries, especially strains and sprains.
The actual massage combines a few massage techniques, including the Swedish and Shiatsu massages. This type of massage can be useful for getting rid of stress felt throughout a sporting event, helping to relax and unwind after the event. The massage will boost fluid and blood circulation, making sure the muscles don’t cramp, and there is no pain after the event.
There are some mental health benefits noted. Some studies have shown that sports massages can help to reduce anxiety.
Opt for a Quicker Chair Massage
Have you ever seen the weird looking chairs in shopping malls or airports? These chair massagers are extremely comfortable, relaxing, and beneficial to the body. No, they aren’t just a money grab. However, you need to get the massages for long enough to gain all the benefits.
Most chair massages will last 5 minutes for a couple of bucks. If you want all the benefits, you need a 15-20-minute massage.
Because you remain seated, you will benefit by taking up less space. Companies can add more massage chairs, so they get to charge a little less than if you were to book a massage at a spa. You’re also not taking up an individual’s time.
You will be fully seated, with vibration elements around your neck, back, shoulders, hands, and arms. You can feel the vibrations work away at the muscles that commonly hold the tension in your body, causing pain including chronic headaches. One of the downsides is the distraction of people around you, meaning you don’t quite get a deep and relaxing massage.
If you want relaxation, you’ll want to talk to a spa about a chair massage. You can hire a person to give you a chair massage rather than one lying down, getting deeper into the muscles than a vibrating chair will.
These aren’t great for relieving a lot of deep pain. However, they’re great for those on their feet all day at work and just need some quick relief.
Get Acupressure with a Shiatsu Massage
It’s time to head to Japan for your next massage. The good news is you don’t have actually to get on a plane for the treatment. A Shiatsu massage is available at most Oriental spas and beauty parlors, using acupressure to work on boosting energy and relaxing the body.
Shiatsu means “finger pressure,” which perfectly describes the type of massage you will get. The masseuse will use their fingers to work on specific pressure points in your body, boosting blood flow and energy flow around your whole body. The focus is on the “chi,” which is an ancient belief. If the chi is blocked, the body’s energy doesn’t flow naturally, and you end up with hormonal imbalances.
While there are plenty of alternative doctors who will tell you to try this to relieve pain, there is currently no scientific evidence to show it works. Patients commonly rate it for headaches, back pain, and fatigued.
One benefit for many patients is there is no need to undress.
Improve Joint Movement with a Thai Massage
While the Japanese improve the chi, the Thailand option is to use acupressure and muscle compression to improve the movement of joints. A Thai massage therapist will use their own body to move their client into positions. The idea is that the muscles will compress and cause friction to improve blood circulation and break down scar tissue.
It is extremely invigorating and will require you to move around a little. The positions are likeyoga, but you don’t have to do a lot of the movement physically. A Thai massage is nicknamed “yoga for the lazy.”
Some of the stretches will help to improve your flexibility. There is the possibility that you’ll be walked on during the massage, but this is something your therapist will talk to you about first. If you have a bad back, it will likely be avoided.
Relax with the Hot Stone Massage
If you want to relax and you’ve already tried the Swedish massage, you may want to move onto the hot stone massage. This uses warmed stones, which are placed on strategic parts of the body. Most of them are placed on acupressure parts, utilizing the idea of the chi to improve your energy flow and reduce stress at the same time.
The stones can be left in place for time or the massage therapist can use them to work away tension in the muscles. You’ll feel the heat working its way into your deeper tissues, helping you relax deeper than with a Swedish massage.
You won’t feel like drifting off because of the heat. It can be too hot for some, so you may want to ask to wait for the stones to lose some of their heat before you get this massage.
This is one of the most common types of massages on offer in spas around the world. Sometimes it can be used in aromatherapy to improve mental wellbeing.
Promote Health with a Reflexology Massage
Not all massages are done on the back or necks. They don’t all involve targeted areas of the body to improve those area-specific injuries. The reflexology massage works on the feet to treat various health problems. Yes, your head, chest, and digestive system are all connected to your feet.
The masseuse will use the fingers and thumbs to get into specific parts of your feet to work on corresponding body parts. If you have a problem with headaches or eye strain, your toes will be the focus. If you find digestive issues, a common complain, the instep will be the focus of your massage.
A reflexology therapist can work on multiple areas at a time. This is also a massage that you can safely do yourself. You don’t need to use your hands. Get a tennis ball or ping pong ball and slowly move it around your feet in targeted locations based on pain and ailments.
Find a Specialist in Pregnancy Massages
Pregnancy is a wonderful experience, if you’re not in pain. Your body goes through so many changes. Your stress levels are all over the place, your arms and legs can swell, and let’s not forget the joint pain as the muscles relax and stretch.
You can’t get a traditional massage during pregnancy since you can’t lie on your stomach. You can get a pregnancy massage though. This is performed by someone who specializes in pregnancy massages and will have pillows and equipment designed to help you and bump get comfortable.
It’s possible to ease the stress in your shoulders and relieve some of the pain on your lower back. All this is done without putting pressure on arteries or certain areas that can cause problems for the baby. Once you’ve had the baby, you can go back to your regular types of massages.
Which Massage Will You Focus On?
Now it’s time to book your massage. There are so many benefits. Some will help to relieve overall stress and improve your mental health. Others are designed to target specific areas. If you have chronic pain, you’ll want to focus on the areas that are causing the problem and not where the referred pain is.
It’s time to think about the goals for your massages. Do you just want to treat yourself and ease the tension? A Swedish or hot stones massage could be perfect. Do you need to target your legs after a hard session training for a marathon? Consider a deep tissue massage to get you back on the mend.
The Grind of Life
The grind of daily life can take its toll on your body, spirit, and mind. Tight muscles, aching joints, insomnia, and headaches affect many people in our society today. Some of us are also bogged down by anxiety and depression. As human beings we deserve to be nurtured, supported, and energized, on a mental, physical, and emotional level. Reiki brings the body into balance and harmony and can complement and work in conjunction with other forms of therapy, mainstream medicine, and medical intervention. Reiki is a valuable tool for any person dealing with a variety of health issues, including disease and pain management. Everyone, young and old, abled or disabled, can benefit from the gentle, personalized, and restorative effects of Reiki.
The Power of Touch
The skillful use of physical touch can lead to astonishing therapeutic results, on a physical, mental, and emotional scale. Reiki relaxes and releases muscles, freeing us from the sometimes vise-like grip that issues like stress and toxins can have on us. Reiki treats the entire person with beneficial effects that also include deep relaxation, improved circulation, and faster recovery time from injuries. It is also used by doctors and in many hospitals across the world.
Practiced in many cultures, Reiki uses a technique called “palm healing” or “hands-on-healing.” Through light touch and gentle movement of your body, Reiki supports the body’s natural healing processes and helps restore physical and emotional balance. It also bolsters your immune system, sharpens your mind, and replenishes your spirit. Like traditional massage therapy, Reiki is used to decrease stress and pain, and to improve the body’s ability to heal itself and become stronger. Patients with acute and chronic illnesses and in recovery from surgery have also benefited from this form of “touch therapy.”
Come relish the feeling of stress and pain leaving your body. It is time to take care of your mind, body, and spirit! Appointments usually last about one hour or more and take place in a quiet space and on a message table or other comfortable flat surface.
Reiki is nothing new. It originated with Dr. Makao Usui in Japan in the mid-1800s. It’s time to make Reiki a regular part of your vocabulary and vital part of your life. It’s time to take care of all of you.
The Healing Power of Gentle Touch
Most people have not heard of CranioSacral Therapy, a light touch technique which can create dramatic improvements in your life. Particularly for those who are trying to recover from injury, CranioSacral Therapy can shorten healing time and reduce pain by releasing tensions deep in the body.
What is CranioSacral Therapy?
CranioSacral Therapy deals with the flow of energy through the body. If any part of the body experiences a disruption of that energy, that part does not function properly. Since all the nerves of the body pass through the spine, and nerves carry the body’s energy impulses back and forth to the brain, it is essential to keep these nerve pathways free from injury, compression, swelling or misalignment. The term CranioSacral is referring to the area between the top of the spine, the cranium, and the bottom of the spine, the sacrum. This therapy focuses on repairing and maintaining energy flow between those two points, and thus throughout the body.
Let’s look at what happens after a bad fall or a car accident. Impact causes misalignments of the spine and other body parts. Chiropractic and massage can treat most of the injury with therapy directed at bones, joints and muscles. If even a small amount of the nerve trauma remains, there can be ongoing discomfort and pain. The injury seems to never fully subside.
In the same way, long-term stress affects the body in ways similar to injuries caused by sudden trauma. Stress is like a slow-motion train wreck. Your body can only handle so much prolonged stress and strain before tissues begin to tighten and potentially affect the brain and spinal cord. This can compromise the function of the central nervous system and the performance of nearly every other system in your body.
All the nerve pathways through the body are encased in sheaths of protective material. If any part of a nerve sheath is damaged or compressed, the nerve does not function properly and some part of the body suffers. In CranioSacral Therapy, the therapist identifies the area of restriction and applies gentle pressure to release any restrictions they find, allowing the entire body to relax and self-correct. This is all done while the client is fully clothed.
CranioSacral Therapy has been found to be effective in relieving migraines, chronic neck and back pain, stress-related disorders, spinal cord injuries, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, motor-coordination disorders, central nervous system disorders, ADD/ADHD, among others. Because it is so gentle CranioSacral Therapy can be effective for all ages, from newborns to seniors.
Contact Cheryl Today to begin your journey to balance, relief from pain, and optimum health!
There are many different types of body-work available, the most well-known being massage. Serious and sometimes debilitating diseases can be alleviated through massage. What most people do not realize is that there is a variety of specific massage treatments designed for different health issues.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (symptoms include pain, tingling, burning and numbness of the hand and wrist area) has intensified in the past twenty years. People entering data on their computers, hair stylists, casino dealers, construction workers and anyone else whose job performance includes repetitive motion can be affected.
Sports can also cause repetitive stress injuries to the tendons in the wrist. When the tendons swell, they press against the median nerve, which passes through the same opening between wrist bones and fibrous support tissues. The median nerve transmits sensations from the hand to the brain. If the median nerve becomes pinched, these signals are blocked, causing numbness and tingling. Common treatments include immobilization of the hand, physical therapy and surgery for extreme cases.
Massage therapy eases the symptoms of repetitive stress injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and can increase grip strength, according to a recent study conducted by staff at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami, School of Medicine. The massage routine in the study consisted of stroking of moderate pressure from the fingertips to the elbow. Results of the study showed that the subjects in the massage group had significantly less pain and reduced carpal tunnel symptoms, as well as increased grip strength.
Tennis elbow and Golfer’s elbow are forms of tendinitis and are sports injuries caused by overuse of the arms, elbows and forearm muscles, the tendons suffer microscopic tears through injury or overuse, which cause pain and inflammation. However, elbow pain does not just afflict tennis players and golfers, it can occur in anyone with overuse of repetitive arm, elbow and wrist movement. These can include baseball players, bowlers, gardeners, house or office cleaners, carpenters, mechanics and assembly-line workers.
A common treatment is to prescribe drugs to mask the pain, however drugs do not ultimately fix the problem. Massage is a much less radical alternative for these issues. Trigger point-massage techniques, even as self-treatments at home can be used to alleviate muscle pain effectively. For carpal tunnel a massage therapist can stretch the tissues that would be cut during surgery, making more room for the tendons and median nerve. Another technique is to shorten the forearm muscles through compression, allowing them to relax. This reduces the tendon inflammation and swelling that trigger the problem in the first place.
Diabetes, a much more serious disease, can cause severe loss of circulation in the extremities. This loss is due to micro vascular disease, where the cholesterol imbalances caused by diabetes result in blockage of the arteries. Eventually the lack of circulation allows infection to occur in the affected tissue. As blockages become extreme, amputation of the extremity may be required.
Regular massage can improve circulation to the extremities. Though massage will not cure diabetes, it can reduce pain in the extremities by increasing blood circulation through the small arteries that the disease is trying to block. Exercise and weight reduction are important factors in diabetes treatment to control blood sugar levels. Patients can tolerate more exercise and get better results by using massage therapy to reduce post-exercise pain and stiffness.
In the state of Nevada licensed massage therapists are required to get continuing education. When you are looking for a massage therapist and you have specific problems you want to address you should find out what areas they specialize in to see if they are a fit for you. For instance, if you are a sport enthusiast you might want to find a therapist trained in sports therapy. There are a number of problems that can quite often be relieved or alleviated by a massage therapist trained for each individual issue.
- Beck, Mark F., Milady’s Theory and Practice of Therapeutic Massage, 3rd edition, Milady Publishing, Albany, NY.
- Massage Magazine. Massage for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine in Miami, Florida. Originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2004, Vol. 8, pp. 9-14.
- Davies, Claire. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Self-Treatment of Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow, Lateral Epicondylitis, Medial Epicondylitis, Elbow Tendinitis, Elbow Bursitis. 1999-2006.
Contact Cheryl Today to begin your journey to balance, relief from pain, and optimum health!