All about massage therapy

Types of massages we offer

About massage therapy

 Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, with references in medical texts nearly 4,000 years old. In fact, Hippocrates, known as the "father of medicine," referenced massage when he wrote, in the 4th century B.C.: "The physician must be acquainted with many things, and assuredly with rubbing." 

 Nowdays, in addition to "rubbing," massage therapy, often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily the hands, although massage therapists do use other areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. 

 All of the techniques are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences the overall health and well-being of the client.

What is the history of massage therapy?

Massage therapy dates back thousands of years. References to massage appear in writings from ancient China, Japan, India, Arabic nations, Egypt, Greece (Hippocrates defined medicine as "the art of rubbing"), and Rome. Massage became widely used in Europe during the Renaissance. In the 1850s, two American physicians who had studied in Sweden introduced massage therapy in the United States, where it became popular and was promoted for a variety of health purposes. With scientific and technological advances in medical treatment during the 1930s and 1940s, massage fell out of favor in the United States. Interest in massage revived in the 1970s, especially among athletes.


Physical and mental 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

Types of massages we offer

1. Deep tissue massage

 Deep tissue massage uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and fascia (the connective tissue surrounding muscles). It's used for chronic aches and pain and contracted areas such as a stiff neck and upper back, low back pain, leg muscle tightness, and sore shoulders. 

 Deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as chronic muscle pain, injury rehabilitation, and the following conditions:

  • Low back pain
  • Limited mobility
  • Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls)
  • Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Postural problems
  • Muscle tension in the hamstrings, glutes, IT band, legs, quadriceps, rhomboids, upper back
  • Osteoarthritis pain
  • Sciatica 
  • Sports concerns (runners, athletes)
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Tennis elbow
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Upper back or neck pain

 Deep tissue massage may not be safe for people with blood clots (e.g. thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis), due to the risk that they may become dislodged. If you have blood clots or are at risk of forming blood clots, it's essential that you consult your doctor first.If you've had recent surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or any other medical procedure, it's wise to check with your doctor before starting massage therapy. Some people with osteoporosis should avoid the deeper pressure of this type of massage.Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed or infected skin, skin rashes, unhealed or open wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, fragile bones, or areas of recent fractures.If you have any condition, it's important to consult your primary care provider beforehand to find out what type they recommend. For example, people with certain conditions, such as ankylosing spondylitis, may not be able to tolerate the pain of a deep tissue massage.Pregnant people should check with their doctors first if they are considering getting a massage. Deep tissue massage (or any strong pressure) should be avoided during pregnancy, but your doctor may suggest a massage therapist trained in pregnancy massage

2. Reflexology

 While most people think that reflexology is just another word for foot massage, it is in fact much more than that…but what exactly is it and what does it do?  Beyond the feel-good effects of the treatment, the practice and purpose go deeper than the skin and musclesby taking specific reflex points on the foot to induce a healing response in corresponding organsand areas of the body. Kneading the soft fleshy ball of the foot, pulling on the toes, tracing around the heel and pushing deep into the arch are just a few of the many small, intense movements you’ll experience during a reflexology treatment.Addressing anything from headaches to sinus problems to stomach issues, if sensitivity or tenderness is experienced when certain areas of the foot are stimulated, it usually indicates bodily weaknesses or imbalances within the corresponding organ. With repeated practice of applying pressure and manipulating nerve endings (traditionally in the foot), reflexology can help to clear any channels of blocked energythrough moving the flow of blood, nutrients and nerve impulses to ultimately improve overall health and balance. In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on the hands or ears to trigger relaxation as well. 

 The Benefits:



  • Cleanses the body of toxins
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Increases circulation
  • Promotes healing
  • Balances energy

 Things to Remember:



  • Wait at least one hour for massage after eating
  • Don’t receive reflexology if you are pregnant
  • Drink water following the treatment to eliminate toxins and lactic acid buildup that occurs during the massage
  • Consult a doctor first if you have foot problems, an injury, a blood vessel disease associated with clots or varicose veins

3. Stretching

 Everyone knows stretching is an integral part of an exercise routine. But did you know that it is crucial at many other times including when you are not exercising?

It is the process of gradually applying gentle force to lengthen and lubricate muscles and joints. It is a way to show you love your body because it requires complete focus on yourself.

Stretching can be done by anyone no matter their current physical condition or age. It is a remarkable way to improve health without wear and tear, yet contributes to overall wellness. 

 There are a lot of reasons why muscles, tendons and cartilage need to be stretched:


  • Lengthens muscle fibers that have contracted from disuse or excessive use
  • Restore muscle flexibility after injury
  • Assists in removal of natural wastes like lactic acid from muscles
  • Increases flexibility
  • Restores muscle balance
  • Warms the muscles


 The benefits extend far beyond muscles:


  1. Stimulate the digestive organs
  2. Energize the body
  3. Reduce inflammations in joints
  4. Relieve stress and tension
  5. Improve posture
  6. Improves mental focus and concentration

 Like everything else in life, there is a right way and a wrong way to stretch. Naturally, the benefits are greater if you follow expert tips:


  • Warm-up your muscles beforehand to prevent muscle tearing
  • Don't try to do too much too early
  • Don't overstretch your muscles
  • Learn proper techniques
  • You should never experience pain
  • Tell a massage therapist about any muscle problems you have

4. Hot stone massage

 Hot stone massage is a type of massage therapy that involves the use of smooth, flat, heated stones that are placed on specific points on your body. Massage therapists may also hold the stones during the massage to apply heat.The localized heat and weight of the stones are said to improve circulation and warm tense muscles, allowing the massage therapist to apply deeper pressure.  

 The hallmark of hot stone massage is the use of the heated stones.  Basalt river rocks are typically used because they have become smooth over time from the river's current and retain heat.To prepare for the treatment, the therapist heats the stones in a professional massage stone heater until they are within a precise temperature range (typically between 110 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit). He or she places the stones on specific points on the back. While the points may vary depending on areas of muscle tension and the client's health history, they are generally placed along both sides of the spine, in the palms of the hand, on the legs, or between the toes. 

 

The Benefits of Hot Stone Massage

Some people find the warmth of the hot stones to be comforting and deeply relaxing.Hot stone massage is suited to people who tend to feel chilly. It's also suited for people who have muscle tension but prefer a lighter massage. The heat relaxes muscles, allowing the therapist to work the muscles using lighter pressure.Although there's a lack of research on the benefits of hot stone massage, the therapy is often used for the same conditions as a classic massage:

 

Who Shouldn't Get a Hot Stone Massage

While hot stone massage is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed massage therapist, it's not right for everyone.Consult your doctor if you have a medical condition, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, varicose veins, migraines, autoimmune disease, decreased pain sensitivity, cancer, autoimmune disease, epilepsy, tumors, or metal implants, or are on medication that thins the blood.Also check with your doctor if you have had recent surgery or have recent wounds or areas of weakened or inflamed skin.Pregnant women and children should avoid hot stone massage. 

5. Reiki

 Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.The word Reiki is made of two Japanese words - Rei which means "God's Wisdom or the Higher Power" and Ki which is "life force energy". So Reiki is actually "spiritually guided life force energy."

 Reiki increases the effectiveness of any type of massage therapy you use. Reiki plus massage therapy treats the client holistically on all levels instead of just physically. Treating a client holistically is the way of the future and brings more peace into each client’s life and into the world, which is certainly wanted and needed. 

 A treatment feels like a wonderful glowing radiance that flows through and around you. Reiki treats the whole person including body, emotions, mind and spirit creating many beneficial effects that include relaxation and feelings of peace, security and wellbeing. Many have reported miraculous results.Reiki is a simple, natural and safe method of spiritual healing and self-improvement that everyone can use. It has been effective in helping virtually every known illness and malady and always creates a beneficial effect. It also works in conjunction with all other medical or therapeutic techniques to relieve side effects and promote recovery. 

6. Pregnancy massage

 Therapeutic massage has been used for centuries to improve overall health, reduce stress, and relieve muscle tension. Massages during pregnancy have often received ambivalent responses from the health community regarding their safety and purpose. Modern investigation and research has shown that prenatal massage therapy can be an instrumental ingredient in women’s prenatal care and should be given careful consideration. 

Benefits of prenatal massage:


 Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health. 

 Studies done in the past 10 years have shown that hormone levels associated with relaxation and stress are significantly altered when massage therapy is introduced to women’s prenatal care. This leads to mood regulation and improved cardiovascular health.  In women who received bi-weekly massages for only five weeks, hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol (hormones associated with stress) were reduced, and dopamine and serotonin levels were increased (low levels of these hormones are associated with depression).  These changes in hormone levels also led to fewer complications during birth and fewer instances of newborn complications, such as low birth weight. The evidence strongly suggests there are maternal and newborn health benefits when therapeutic massage is incorporated into regular prenatal care.  


Other potential benefits of prenatal massage:

 Women who have recently experienced bleeding, pre-term contractions, or have any of the following conditions should speak with a health care provider prior to receiving a massage:



7. Sports massage

 Sports massage therapy is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete's sport of choice. Focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements. 

 Aspects of sports massage therapy are gaining popularity as useful components in a balanced training regimen. Sports massage therapy can be used as a means to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or after an event. Athletes have discovered that specially designed sports massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance. 

 There are four types of sports massages:


  • Pre-event sports massage: a short, stimulating massage 15-45 minutes before the event. It is directed toward the parts of the body that will be involved in the exertion.
  • Post-event sports massage: given within an hour or two of the event, to normalize the body's tissues. 
  • Restorative sports massage: given during training to allow the athelete to train harder and with less injury.
  • Rehabilitative sports massage: aimed at alleviating pain due to injury and returning the body to health.

8. Swedish massage

 Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension. 

 A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu. 

 Additional Swedish massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during your Swedish massage session, communication is encouraged with your professional massage therapist so that your massage is customized to your specific needs. 

9. Rolfing

 Rolfing is a system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organizes the whole body in gravity. Rolfing bodywork affects the body’s posture and structure by manipulating the myofascial system (connective tissue). Often considered a deep-tissue approach, Rolfing bodywork actually works with all the layers of the body to ease strain patterns in the entire system. Research has demonstrated that Rolfing creates more efficient muscle use, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. Rolfing has also been shown to significantly reduce chronic stress, reduce spinal curvature in subjects with lordosis (sway back), and enhance neurological functioning. 

 Who uses it?


People seek Rolfing as a way to reduce pain and chronic muscle tension, generally resulting from physical and emotional traumas. Rolfing is used by many professional athletes to break up scar tissue, rehabilitate injuries, and increase range of motion to improve performance and avoid future injuries. Dancers and musicians often use the work to increase increase comfort in their bodies while performing, as well as avoid repetitive stress injuries.
Additionally, some manufacturing companies have employed Rolfing to decrease workers’ compensation costs due to repetitive stress injuries. And, based on the mind/body connection, many counselors and therapists incorporate Rolfing in the therapeutic approach. Greater physical support and flexibility ultimately influences emotions and energy levels.

 How is Rolfing different from massage?


Through soft tissue manipulation and movement education, Rolfers affect body posture and structure over the long-term. Unlike massage, which often focuses on relaxation and relief of muscle discomfort, Rolfing is aimed at improving body alignment and functioning. Rolfing is different from deep-tissue massage, in that practitioners are trained to create overall ease and balance throughout the entire structure, rather than focusing on areas presenting with tension. As a structure becomes more organized, chronic strain patterns are alleviated, and pain and stress decreases.Furthermore, Rolfing can speed up injury recovery by reducing pain, stiffness and muscle tension; improving movement and circulation around joints; and attending to both the injury and any secondary pain that may develop from favoring the injury. 

10. Miofacial release therapy

   Myofascial release is a type of physical therapy often used to treat myofascial pain syndrome. Myofascial pain syndrome is a chronic pain disorder caused by sensitivity and tightness in your myofascial tissues. These tissues surround and support the muscles throughout your body. The pain usually originates from specific points within your myofascial tissues called “trigger points.”Myofascial release focuses on reducing pain by easing the tension and tightness in the trigger points. It’s not always easy to understand what trigger point is responsible for the pain. Localizing pain to a specific trigger point is very difficult. For that reason, myofascial release is often used over a broad area of muscle and tissue rather than at single points. 

 Your therapist will gently massage the myofascia and feel for stiff or tightened areas. Normal myofascia should feel pliable and elastic. The therapist will begin massaging and stretching the areas that feel rigid with light manual pressure. The therapist then aids the tissue and supportive sheath in releasing pressure and tightness. The process is repeated multiple times on the same trigger point and on other trigger points until the therapist feels the tension is fully released.  These areas where the massage therapist is working may not be near where the pain originates or where you feel the pain most prominently. Myofascial release works the broader network of muscles that might be causing your pain. It tries to reduce tension throughout your body by releasing trigger points across a broad section of your muscular system.  Patients with myofascial pain syndrome frequently benefit from this type of therapy. People who experience chronic headaches may also find relief from myofascial release. Gently massaging on tightened muscles in and around the neck and head may reduce headaches.Some people with venous insufficiency, which occurs when blood pools in the deep veins of the leg, may also be candidates for myofascial release. During venous insufficiency, the blood pool stretches and eventually damages the veins in your legs. You may experience an aching and painful sensation in the affected leg. Myofascial release might be used in conjunction with other treatments to reduce the pooling and pain caused by venous insufficiency. 

 Myofascial release by massage therapy has very few risks. Whether you’re trying to relax or aiming to ease back pain, massage therapy may be beneficial for pain reduction.

However, massage isn’t ideal for people:

  • with burns, injuries, or painful wounds
  • with fractures or broken bones
  • with fragile or weak bones
  • with deep vein thrombosis or deep vein issues
  • taking blood-thinning medications

11. Bamboo massage

 Hot Bamboo massage, sometimes referred to as bamboo fusion massage, is a fairly new type of massage therapy made popular by Nathalie Cecilia. She started using warm bamboo sticks for massage when her hands and wrists became painful with deep tissue work. Using the bamboo tool gave her more strength and stamina for deeper pressure. The smooth sticks allowed for more penetrating maneuvers and made deep-tissue work easier.  Hot Bamboo or "Bamboo-fusion" massage incorporates different lengths and diameters of bamboo sticks and stones. Warmed smooth bamboo, is integrated into a flowing Swedish massage. It brings the warming, soothing effect of hot stone into massage .

 With the bamboo sticks as an extension of the hands the therapist can easily palpate, find tension, and dissolve knots and trigger points. They are used to knead and stretch muscle and fascia in all directions. The massage can go as light or as deep as necessary.Massage lotion or oil is used with the bamboo. A twelve inch bamboo stick is used for large areas to knead the muscles and also uses a crisscross technique to stretch fascia. The shorter tools are used for small areas and deeper work. The warmth brings relaxation in a shorter time as it quickly penetrates to relax the muscles. 

 This wonderful technique promotes a deep sense of well-being and delicious relaxation. Many clients report that the positive effects of the bamboo tools seem even longer lasting than deep tissue massage without the bamboo sticks. 

12. Electrical stimulation and ultrasound

 What is electrical stimulation? In the chiropractic setting, some procedures include the use of electrical current to stimulate a therapeutic effect on the body. When applied to tissue, electric currents create thermal, physiologic, and chemical responses. The currents also alter pain impulses. Interferential stimulation is the most commonly used form of electrical stimulation used in the chiropractic setting. Two channels of electrical stimulation create a third current that penetrates the affected tissues with little resistance. This stimulation helps control pain and muscle contractions. Interferential stimulation also reduces edema, swelling caused by fluid in the body’s tissues. 




 What are the benefits of ultrasound therapy? In addition to electrical stimulation, ultrasound therapy is also used for therapeutic effects.  Ultrasound uses acoustic energy at a high frequency.  A continuous wave produces thermal effects.  These thermal effects include increased blood flow, a reduction of stiffness and spasm, an increase in flexibility of tendon and joint capsules, and decreased pain.  Pulsed waves typically produce non-thermal effects.  These effects include tissue regeneration, collagen synthesis, an increase in blood flow, and a reduction of edema, an excess of fluid which causes swelling. 

13. Lymphatic Drainage

 Within us all there is a silent system working to keep us healthy- the lymph system. Without it our bodies would swell up like balloons, swamping our cells with stagnant fluid. The lymph system’s impact is so far reaching that many don’t even realize that minor aches and pains, low energy or susceptibility to colds and flu may be due to a sluggish lymph system and a compromised immune system.  Lymphatic drainage massage is a profound technique to help increase lymph flow. With an increase of lymph flow immune function is increased. Harmful substances are removed from the tissues and neutralized in the nodes. It has also been shown that an increase in lymph flow stimulates an increased production of lymphocytes- enhancing immune function. 

 Lymphatic drainage in this arena can be applied to clients who are suffering from a lack of energy, or a sluggish immune system.Lymphatic drainage massage is also useful when working with clients who have sports injuries. After the initial inflammatory stage has passed, lymphatic work can be applied after Sports or Neuromuscular massage has been completed. This will help to clear the tissue of debris, and help to reduce the minor edema that sometimes occurs after deep massage. Continued applications of lymphatic drainage while the client is healing can help to enhance the tissue regeneration process by keep the tissue as healthy as possible.Not only is lymphatic drainage useful for sports injuries, but it can also help scars. . Lymph work has been shown to help the scarring process by enhancing circulation and immunity. As the lymph flow around the scar is increased, lymph vessels that have been damaged are stimulated to heal, and the increased lymph flow also draws away toxins, improving the health of the tissues.  

 Beyond its application for injuries, Estheticians have been using lymph drainage massage for years to enhance the quality of the skin, especially on the face. When the lymph is flowing, the cells are being bathed in fresh fluid, causing the skin to look fresh and alive. We have all experienced having minor edema in our faces- that puffy feeling and baggy eyes when we first wake in the morning after a long night. Usually after a few minutes of being vertical the lymph system starts to drain the face. A great way to see the power of lymph drainage is to apply a few strokes on one of those mornings, and watch in just a few minutes the tissues drain right before your eyes- leaving you looking vibrant and healthy.  

14. Neuromuscular Massage

 The most effective type of massage therapy for lower back pain is neuromuscular therapy. Neuromuscular therapy is also called trigger point myotherapy. The American Academy of Pain Management recognizes this form of massage therapy as an effective treatment for back pain caused by soft tissue injury (such as a muscle strain).  Neuromuscular therapy consists of alternating levels of concentrated pressure on the areas of muscle spasm. The massage therapy pressure is usually applied with the fingers, knuckles, or elbow.  

 Muscles that are in spasm will be painful to the touch. The pain is caused by ischemic muscle tissue. Ischemia means the muscle is lacking proper blood flow, usually due to the muscle spasm. This in turn creates the following undesirable process:

  • Because the muscle is not receiving enough blood, the muscle is also not receiving enough oxygen
  • The lack of oxygen causes the muscle to produce lactic acid
  • The lactic acid makes the muscle feel sore following physical activity.

After the muscle is relaxed through massage therapy, the lactic acid will be released from the muscle, and the muscle should start receiving enough blood and oxygen. 

 Neuromuscular therapy will feel painful at first, but the pressure of the massage should alleviate the muscle spasm. At this point, it is extremely important to communicate with the massage therapist regarding the pressure - whether the pressure is too much, too little, getting better, getting worse. The therapist should listen and respond accordingly. The massage therapy pressure should never be overly painful. In fact, most people describe the pressure as “good pain”.  Following a neuromuscular therapy massage, any soreness that presents itself should fade after twenty-four to thirty-six hours. The muscles that were tight should remain noticeably more relaxed for four to fourteen days, depending on stress.

15. Trigger point therapy

 A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may produce referral pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache. 

 Trigger point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort. 

 The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.