Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness. Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body.
Massage is the application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. The many variations of massage account for several different techniques.
There are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques such as manipulation, movement, and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin.
Studies suggest that a single session of massage therapy can reduce “state anxiety” (a reaction to a particular situation), blood pressure, and heart rate, and multiple sessions can reduce “trait anxiety” (general anxiety-proneness), depression, and pain.
Will My Insurance Cover It?
The services of a bodywork professional may be covered by health insurance when prescribed by a chiropractor or osteopath. Therapies provided as part of a prescribed treatment by a physician or registered physical therapist are often covered.
MASSAGE THERAPY BENEFITS
- relaxes the whole body
- loosens tight muscles
- relieves tired and aching muscles
- increases flexibility and range of motion
- diminishes chronic pain
- calms the nervous system
- lowers blood pressure
- lowers heart rate
- enhances skin tone
- assists in recovery from injuries and illness
- strengthens the immune system
- reduces tension headaches
- reduces mental stress
- improves concentration
- promotes restful sleep
- aids in mental relaxation
MASSAGE THERAPY TECHNIQUES OFFERRED
Prenatal, or pregnancy, massage uses gentle techniques to help alleviate some of the ailments associated with pregnancy, including lower back, neck and shoulder pain; fatigue; joint tenderness; and stretch marks. Prenatal massage can help improve circulation, promote stress reduction and relaxation, and much more. Practitioners should be well-trained in prenatal massage in order to deliver safe and effective care, and patients should check with their doctors prior to receiving treatment.
MYOFASCIAL RELEASE (MFR):
Myofascial release deals with the fascia, or connective tissue, of the body. The fascia is interconnected to every other part of the body, and actually helps to support the body’s very structure, including the musculoskeletal system. When injury, inflammation, or physical or emotional trauma occurs, the fascia can become tight and cause pain and/or restricted range of motion. Myofascial release — as its name suggests — aims to release the fascia and return it to a state of normalcy by applying gentle pressure to the restricted areas. MFR can help with a number of conditions, including chronic pain, headaches, and stress-related illnesses. See also Soft-tissue massage, connective tissue massage.
Therapists of medical massage have a strong background in pathology, disease, illness and injury, and the contraindications of specific massage techniques related to various medical conditions. Medical massage therapists frequently work under the direction of or at the request of physicians.
Deep-tissue massage utilizes slow strokes, direct pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles with the fingers, thumbs or elbows. Deep-tissue massage works deeply into the muscles and connective tissue to release chronic aches and pains; its purpose is to reach the fascia beneath the surface muscles.
Practitioners must have a thorough understanding of the human body and have been trained to administer deep-tissue massage, as injury can occur if the technique is not performed properly. This technique is useful in treating chronic pain, inflammation and injury.
Generally regarded as the most common form of massage, Swedish massage involves a combination of five basic strokes and concentrates on the muscles and connective tissues of the body for improved circulation, relaxation, pain relief, and overall health maintenance and well-being. Swedish massage is also one of the less demanding techniques for massage therapists to practice as it usually does not involve deep-tissue work.
LYMPH DRAINAGE THERAPY (LDT):
Developed by French physician Bruno Chikly, this technique involves the application of light, rhythmic strokes to help alleviate various conditions related to the body’s lymph system. Among other things, the lymph system is responsible for flushing out toxins and draining fluid, which supports a healthy immune system. When lymph circulation stagnates, however, fluid can build up and cause physical problems, such as inflammation, edemas and neuropathies.
LDT enables practitioners to restore proper lymph flow by using a “mapping” system to assess congested areas in the body, then apply gentle, pressure using the fingers and hands on these areas to reactivate proper circulation. See also Manual Lymph Drainage.
Sports massage therapies are both preventative and therapeutic, and used for athletes during warm ups, training and competition to treat and/or aid in the prevention of injuries; help improve flexibility, range of motion, and performance; and aid in mental clarity. Virtually every professional sports team employs professional sports massage therapists, and are often privately employed by professional athletes.
STRETCH THERAPY (ST)/FASCIAL STRETCH THERAPY (TM):
‘ST’ is a comprehensive system that includes stretching, fascial remodeling, strengthening, neural re-patterning, and relaxation.
Fascial Stretch Therapy(TM) is a unique, complete and complementary system of table-based assisted stretching, focusing on the fascia and joint capsule as the key elements in achieving optimal flexibility, strength, performance and pain relief.
Fascia is a network of layered connective tissue that surrounds muscles, bones and joints. A joint capsule is also a connective tissue structure that surrounds joints and is involved in optimizing the mechanical function of the joint as well as gives it nutrients.
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