Massage therapy means different things to different people, but overall it is a therapeutic approach to help improve an individual’s health and well being through the hands on manipulation of soft muscles and other soft tissues of the body. This hands on approach also brings about other “feel good” benefits such as intimacy, a state of relaxation and calmness and a feeling of renewed energy and refreshed mind.
Massage benefits an individual on three levels – (1) Physical, (2) Mental, (3) Emotional.
Physical – Stretch, loosen and relax muscle tissue. Improve blood circulation. Move lymph fluid around the body, therefore assisting with the removal of metabolic wastes that accumulate from both exercise and periods of inactivity. Increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissue. Release of endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer). Bringing relief and promoting natural healing.
Mental – Enables the mind to become much more relaxed, Gives the mind time to de-clutter and think clearly.
Emotional – Satisfies the need for a caring and nurturing touch, creating a feeling of well being and reduction in anxiety levels.
People of all ages can, and do benefit from regular massage sessions. And many will now ensure that these sessions are planned into their busy lifestyle.
There are many forms of massage therapy, and whilst each style has its own particular benefit, all forms do maintain several basic principles.
Improved blood circulation is beneficial for virtually all circumstances. Tension in the muscles and other soft tissues can impair circulation, resulting in deficient supply of nutrients and inadequate removal of toxins from the tissues. This can lead to illness, lethargy, structural and functional problems, slow healing process to name but a few.
Movement and circulation of Lymphatic Fluid plays a vital role in ridding the body of wastes and toxins. The lymph system also benefits from massage, particularly in conditions where lymphatic flow is impaired by injury or surgery. In fact there are specific Lymph drainage massages.
Muscular tension often creeps upon us as a result of everyday stresses. Tis can cause many problems, both physically and emotionally if not dealt with. Massage is a great therapy to alleviate this. Allowing greater range of movement, release of tension which in turn brings about greater relaxation.
Mind & Body are inextricably linked and if either are “out of sorts”, then the other is ultimately affected. Likewise, if improvements are made to the body – the mind benefits also, and vice versa.
Stress a major symptom of today’s hectic lifestyles, and can cause untold problems, often leading to physical symptoms. Massage is a great “drug free” remedy for stress and related conditions.
Swedish massage is one of the most commonly used methods in the Western world.
There are five basic massage strokes or movements used with Swedish massage: Effleurage – This is the long flowing stroke with the pads of the fingers and palms of the hand
Petrissage – This involves gently lifting muscles up and away from the bones, then rolling and squeezing them, again with a gentle pressure. It generally involves kneading and compression motions – rolling, squeezing, or pressing the muscles to enhance deeper circulation. Petrissage attempts to increase circulation with clearing out toxins from muscle and nerve tissue
Friction & Vibration – This is the most penetrating of the strokes, and consists of deep circular or transverse movements made with the thumb pads or fingertips. The therapist applies deep, circular movement near joints and other bony areas (such as the sides of the spine). Friction breaks down adhesions, which are knots that result when muscle fibers bind together during the healing process, thus contributing to more flexible muscles and joints.
Tapotement – This consists of a series of briskly applied percussive movements, using the hands alternately to strike or tap the muscles for an invigorating effect. There are many variations on this stroke. It may be applied with the edge of the hand, with the tips of the fingers, or with a closed fist
Vibration or Shaking – This involves the therapist pressing his or her hands on the back or limbs, and rapidly shaking for a few seconds. It boosts circulation and increase the power of the muscles to contact. Vibration is particularly helpful to people suffering from low-back pain.
Many experienced Massage therapists will also adapt the above strokes/movements and introduce their own into a typical session, tailored to the individual clients needs at the time. A good therapist will assess the client by means of a consultation with the client, listening to them, as well as observing their posture and other visual signs.
It is essential when considering massage therapy that the therapist you choose is qualified as well as insured. He should also have a thorough understanding of Anatomy & Physiology.
Massage , as a regular therapy is proven to be extremely beneficial in healing the entire person – Mind, Body and Soul, Allowing you to cope with the ever increasing stresses and demands placed upon us in todays society.
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