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Did You Know?
Did You Know?
Massage Therapy FAQ
Have questions about massage therapy?
Questions such as “How Does Deep Tissue Massage Work?”
Health Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is a form of bodywork that is used to improve function within the body. By using their hands in a variety of different techniques, massage therapists manipulate the soft tissues in the body to promote relaxation and improved circulation. Massage therapy is also used to promote general health and wellbeing in the client, and to prevent future medical issues.
Relieves muscular tension and relaxes muscles spasms
Increases blood circulation
Increases flexibility and strength of joints
Promotes overall healing and well-being
History of Massage Therapy
Massage is one of the oldest forms of health care available today. Manuscripts and artwork from all over the world have shown people being massaged. Alternative health systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine used massage to treat injuries and disease. Hippocrates once wrote, “The physician must be experienced in many things, but most assuredly in rubbing.” Massage as a modern therapeutic practice was established by a Swedish gymnast in the 19th century. Per Hendrik Ling developed a system known as Swedish Massage that has remained one of the most popular techniques available today. There are dozens of massage techniques today that are used for a variety of different conditions and problems. Massage therapy is one of the leading alternative health practices used in the Western world today.
Principles of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is one of the simplest healthcare practices available, and essentially stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities through stroking, kneading and hitting the body with an understanding of the principles of human anatomy.
All massage techniques involve touch, which is an important sensation linked to comfort, love and emotion. Children and young animals require touching, stroking and rubbing to thrive and grow, and touch has been linked to stress-relief and relaxation in adults as well.
When a soothing touch is applied to the skin, messages are sent to the brain to relax the body and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. Rubbing the muscles and tissues of the body also help to work out any stiffness or tension that is stored in the body to improve flexibility and movement.
Massage is also useful for stimulating the lymphatic system to boost the immune system and get rid of toxins in the body.
Different Types of Massage Therapy
SWEDISH MASSAGE is the most common form of massage therapy in the United States. It is a very relaxing form of massage that uses long, gentle kneading strokes to improve circulation and to reduce stress.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE is directed at the deeper connective tissue in the body by using slower, harder strokes to release very tight or tense muscles, postural problems or recovery from injuries.
THAI MASSAGE is similar to Shiatsu in that the therapist will apply pressure to specific points on the body to promote the flow of energy throughout the body. The therapist will move you around in a number of different postures to stretch the body. It is said to be one of the most energizing massage techniques.
HOT STONE MASSAGE is a gentle form of massage that uses heated stones placed on the body to warm the body and loosen tight muscles. Hot Stone Massage is often used for muscle tension, back pain, stress-relief and insomnia.
AROMATHERAPY MASSAGE uses the techniques of Swedish Massage combined with the principles of aromatherapy. Therapists use oils scented with concentrations of plant essences such as lavender to further promote relaxation.
SPORTS MASSAGE is used for active, athletic people, particularly professional athletes. The focus is less on relaxation, and more on injury prevention and treatment, stretching and flexibility.
Hot Stone Massage Therapy
A hot stone massage is a specialty massage that uses smooth, flat heated stones that are heated ranging from 130-145 degrees Fahrenheit.
These stones are placed at specific sites on your body. The massage therapist may also hold the stones and use them to massage certain areas of your body. Though commonly known as “hot” stone massage, cool stones may also be part of the massage session. It is a deeply soothing, relaxing form of massage for both body and mind. The heat helps tight muscles release.
During the massage, the therapist will remove the heated stones from the water and place them on specific points along your body (most often the spine), or in the palms of your hand, or even between your toes. When you lie face up, stones may be placed on your belly, chest and face. A towel or sheet is normally placed between you and the stones. The warm stones will help the muscles relax and allow the therapist to more easily perform deep tissue manipulations. In addition, the therapist uses traditional strokes of Swedish massage while holding heated stones. The massage therapist may also put down the stones and use his or her hand to directly massage the skin. Massage oils are usually incorporated into the massage treatment. As the stone cools, the therapist replaces it with another.
Cold stones may also be used as part of the massage therapy session. Alternating cold and heat can increase circulation. Cold stones can also reduce inflammation and pain in a localized area of the body. You should let the therapist know if the stones are too warm or the pressure is too strong.
If you are pregnant, have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or are under a clinical practitioner’s care, we recommend that you consult your practitioner before receiving a hot stone massage.
Source: The University of New Hampshire Health Services