Because every person is a unique individual physically, physiologically, and emotionally, no single massage modality will be the right one for everyone. A skilled massage therapist will possess experience in more than one type of massage and should be able to advise each client on the optimum method or methods suitable for his or her situation.
The traditional type of massage you are likely to encounter in most Western-style spas is Swedish massage. This modality promotes calm and relaxation but also boosts circulation and aids in reducing tension throughout the muscles. Swedish massage features a set of five basic touch techniques: the kneading motions of petrissage; the gliding, drawn-out strokes of effleurage; the tapping motion of tapotement; friction; and vibration.
Trigger-point massage concentrates on painful areas of tightened muscles using cyclical motions that alternately apply pressure and release.
Deep-tissue massage aims to reduce inflammation and pain and to relieve chronic tension, through connecting with underlying muscles and connective tissue.
Sports massage focuses on the special needs of athletes and other active individuals. Rather than concentrating on relaxation, it attempts to utilize a mix of massage techniques to promote increased fitness, build the body’s ability to withstand injury, and treat sports-related injuries.
Thai massage may be a good choice for people who love yoga. This ancient modality, often called a kind of passive yoga, is performed on a mat resting on the floor. The therapist combines deep stretching of the body with gentle motions designed to compress the muscles along a set of energy lines. A skilled practitioner will tailor each Thai massage to the individual client’s current physical condition and wellness goals.
A good massage therapist will learn a variety of techniques over the course of his or her professional career and will provide increased value to clients by adding new forms of massage to any basic repertoire.
Many physicians recommend that patients with cancer add massage as a complementary therapy to their larger treatment plan. While some people claim that massage can slow or reverse the growth of cancer, scientific evidence has not corroborated this claim. At the same time, massage can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life while undergoing traditional treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Massage has a vital role in managing the side effects of these treatment modalities for a number of patients.
In addition, massage has the ability to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as to provide pain relief. After a massage session, many individuals experience a feeling of complete relaxation and well-being. The sensation can be vital to men and women with cancer, especially those undergoing rigorous, draining treatments. Massage may also raise the production of endorphins in the body for a continued elevated mood.
One of the most important forms of therapy for people with cancer is myotherapy, which has strong pain relief properties. Myotherapy involves the identification of trigger points and the use of various techniques, such as deep pressure, to reduce pain and bring relief.
Developed in Japan, shiatsu massage uses finger pressure to stimulate various systems in the body. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, shiatsu massage addresses the flow of energy in the body. Based on the belief that illness results from an imbalance in this flow of energy, shiatsu practitioners use their fingers and palms to place pressure on energy pathways into the body. By opening these pathways, known as meridians, shiatsu massage improves one’s health and restores the balance of energy necessary for physical health. Western scientists have found that shiatsu massage can address overactivity in the sympathetic nervous system, relieve stress, relax the muscles, and improve circulation.
Shiatsu massage involves the application of pressure in a rhythmic manner primarily using the pads of the fingers. Since applied pressure does not always involve the palm, shiatsu massage feels more localized than other types of massage therapy. The exact meridians addressed depend on the needs of the client. Some pressure points may prove slightly tender, and most individuals describe the resulting sensation as a “good pain.” Shiatsu does not involve oils so individuals may remain clothed during the massage.
Deep tissue massage employs a number of the same strokes utilized in classic massage therapy, but the massage therapist uses slower movements and adds pressure, especially on areas with greater tension. Through slow, deliberate, and high-pressure movements, the massage therapist addresses lower levels of muscle and the fascia, the connective tissues that surround the muscles. Individuals with chronic pain in their back, legs, neck, or shoulders will benefit the most from deep tissue massage, which can provide significant relief from daily aches.
Chronic muscle pain generally stems – at least in part – from adhesions or bands of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that remain rigid. Adhesions discourage proper circulation and limit movement, which can lead to inflammation. Deep tissue massage mechanically breaks down these adhesions to encourage circulation and movement.
Some people may experience pain or discomfort during a massage, which makes it important that the client communicate with the massage therapist. Individuals may experience stiffness for a day or so after the massage before experiencing the benefits of the session.