Massage Therapy

Consumers may be tempted to trim their wellness budgets when  economic times are tough. Yet a recent national consumer survey showed  most massage-minded Americans are committed to maintaining the health  benefits they experience with massage. It makes sense— the better you  feel, the better job you can do of caring for yourself and your loved  ones. Massage should play a role in reducing stress and strengthening  the health of Americans. When people feel their best, they are more  likely to be able to face the challenges difficult times present. With  greater health and peace of mind, consumers can face difficulties with  poise, clarity of purpose, and strengthened emotional reserves. Truly,  massage is more than a luxury—it's a vital part of self-care that has a  positive ripple effect on us as we work, play, and care for others. 

A Brief History of Massage

Massage is considered to be among the oldest of all treatments  used by man. Chinese records dating back three thousand years documented  its use. The ancient Hindus, Persians, and Egyptians used forms of  massage for some ailments, and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the  use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today,  massage is an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs and  has proven beneficial to many chronic conditions such as low-back pain,  arthritis, and bursitis. Massage helps relieve the stress and tension  of everyday living.         

Types of Massage:

There are a variety of bodywork techniques. Following are brief descriptions of just a few:  

  • Swedish massage - the most common form of massage, Swedish mainly relaxes the muscles and eases aches and pains.
  • Deep Tissue Massage - focuses on the deeper  layers of musculature. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury  rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis  and tendonitis.
  • Sports Massage - Sports massage specifically  targets and supports fitness. It's goal is to reduce the demand of the  activity on the body, increase personal performance ability and decrease  the body's recovery time. While regular sports massages are recommended  for athletes, everyone can benefit from this service.
  • Trigger Point Therapy - used to relieve muscular  pain and dysfunction through applied pressure to trigger points of  referred pain. These points are defined as localized areas in which the  muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when  compressed.
  • Chair Massage - Also known as seated massage,  this technique involves the use of a specially designed chair. A fully  clothed massage that relieves tension in neck, back and shoulder muscles  that leaves you feeling revitalized.
  • Reflexology - Massage of the feet, hands, and/or ears. Stimulates corresponding areas in the body.
  • Craniosacral - therapists manipulate the  craniosacral system, which includes the soft tissue and bones of the  head (cranium), the spine down to its tail end (the sacral area), and  the pelvis. They also work with the membranes that surround these bones  and the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.  Although the therapist uses a touch so light that many patients don't  even notice it, most people report feeling profoundly relaxed after a  treatment.
  • Myofascial - This is a form of bodywork that is  manipulative in nature and uses long, slow, stretching strokes to  release tension in the fascia, the tissue structure which lines and  covers nearly everything inside and around our bodies.

There are more than one hundred fifty variations of massage,  bodywork, and somatic therapy techniques. Many practitioners utilize an  integration of techniques. 

The Benefits of Massage

What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments?  Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:  

  • Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion
  • Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays
  • Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system
  • Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles
  • Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts
  • Increase joint flexibility
  • Lessen stress and anxiety
  • Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks
  • Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation
  • Reduce spasms and cramping
  • Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles
  • Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller
  • Relieve migraine and headache pain

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