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Massage Therapy Technique Information & Descriptions


Swedish Relaxation Massage:

     - Origin: Swedish massage and related techniques were developed in Europe in the early 1800's, and brought to North America in the 1860's.  It can be traced historically to the work of two men, Pehr Henrick Ling of Sweden, and Johann Mezger of Amsterdam.  The heydey of Swedish massage in the United States was the 1930-1950's, when it was offered in health clubs, salons, and as part of physiotherapy.

     - Technique: Swedish massage is a form of traditional western maassage.  The five classic technique categories of Swedish massage soft tissue manipulation are effleurage (stroking, gliding), petrissage (kneading, compression), tapotement (percussion), friction, and vibration.  Joint movement and hydrotherapy are also within the scope of Swedish massage.

     - Theory: Swedish massage is based in Western anatomy, physiology, and pathology.  It is applied to support the normal function of the human body and its systems, as well as enhance its innate healing capacity.

Deep Tissue Massage:

     - A style of massage that uses strong pressure; slow, deep strokes; and friction across the muscle grain to release chronic muscle tension.

     - Deep tissue massage is a type of massage aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia, also called connective tissue. Deep tissue massage uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but the pressure will generally be more intense. It is also a more focused type of massage, as the therapist works to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as "adhesions.")

     - It shouldn't hurt, but it's likely to be a bit more uncomfortable than a classic Swedish massage. You should always feel free to speak up if the pressure is too much for you.

     -How Fast Will I Get Results With A Deep Tissue Massage? It's important to be realistic about what one massage can achieve. Many people ask for more pressure, thinking that if the therapist just pushes hard enough, they can get rid of all their knots in an hour. This just won't happen. In fact, undoing chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime is best achieved with an integrated program that includes exercise, work on your posture and ways of moving, relaxation techniques and a regular program of massage.

Finally, while deep tissue is certainly valuable, you should be aware that gentle styles of massage like Swedish can also produce profound release and realignment in the body.

Neuromuscular Massage (also know as Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)):

     - Origin: A precursor to today's NMT was developed by a natural healer named Stanley Leaf in the 1920s.  Trigger Point Therapy was brought to the public attention through the work of Janet Travell, MD, an expert in myofascial pain, and her treatment of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson in the 1960s. Fitness expert Bonnie Prudden developed a system of NMT called Myotherapy in the 1970s.

     - Technique: Neuromuscular Therapy is a form of contemporary Western massage in which trigger points, i.e., hyperirritable taut bands in the myofascial tissues, are located and deactivated using ischematic compression.  Pressure is applied to trigger points for about 30 seconds using the thumb, fingers, or small hand tool.  A stretch of the affected muscle follows application of pressure on trigger points.

     - Theory: A trigger point is a taut band or irritable spot in myofascial tissue that causes muscle pain at the trigger point and in its referral zones.  It also causes muscle shortening, and decreased strength.  Under a microscope, trigger points appear to be bands of contracted muscle tissue.

Sports Massage:

     - Origin: Sports massage can be traced to ancient Greece and Rome where massage was given in the gymnasia and public baths.  Massage prepared athletes for exercises, and helped in recovery from competition.  In the late 19th century, rubbers and athletic masseurs used massage in the training of athletes.  Sports massage was revived in the 1970's within the context of Western massage.

     - Technique: Sports massage is a specialty within Western massage.  Western massage techniques are applied to enhance athletic performance, prevent injuries, prepare for and recover from competition, and in rehabilitation of injuries.  Modern sports massage given at events emphasizes the technique of compression and other forms of petrissage.  Individual practitioners may add other bodywork approaches to achieve the goals of the athlete.

     - Theory: Sports massage is based in Western anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, pathology and sports science.

Chair Massage:

     - Chair massage is a short massage, anywhere from five to 30 minutes, done through the clothing. It typically focuses on key tension areas in the back, neck, shoulders and arms. A professional practitioner performs it in a specially designed ergonomic massage chair. They were originally referred to by its creator, David Palmer, as "on-site massage" since the massage chairs were portable and were usually brought into a workplace. However, this kind of onsite massage service is now more commonly referred to as simply "chair massage" and sometimes as "seated massage".

     - They are performed in all kinds of environments. Most people know about the service as a corporate massage service, although probably only half of all of them are done in the workplace. Retail chair massage, either done in massage stores or as stand alone massage booths or massage kiosks is becoming increasingly common.

     - One of the benefits of them is that it takes a service that is typically done behind closed doors and makes it visible to the public. Because it is done out in the open, people getting them know exactly what to expect. They can see who is doing the massage and what they are doing.

     - Another benefit of chair massage is that it is done over the clothing. Many people feel uncomfortable getting undressed for traditional massage that is done on a table. With seated massage, people can avoid the discomfort and awkwardness that they may feel having to disrobe.

     - The sessions are usually shorter than traditional massage making it very convenient for anyone to fit into their schedule. And because the sessions are shorter, the cost for a chair massage is relatively low. These benefits make chair massage a safe, convenient and affordable. It's no wonder that more people are introduced to massage through chair massage than through any other massage technique.

Hot Stone Massage:

Smoothed and heated basalt quartz stones are used in this ancient Japanese massage to penetrate the deepest layers of muscles, giving deep massage and creating sensations of comfort and warmth. The direct heat relaxes muscles allowing manipulation of a greater intensity than with regular massage. The hot stones expand the blood vessels, pushing blood and unwanted waste materials through the body. This has a sedative effect on the nervous system. It is quite an experience to feel the deeply relaxing, penetrating heat from the basalt stones alternating with deep tissue massage.

Clients rave about the total relaxation they feel as the heated stones help calm frazzled nerves and melt tensions away.

Hot stone therapy truly soothes the body and soul.

Thai Massage:

Thai massage is a type of massage in Thai style that involves stretching and deep massage. This form of bodywork is usually performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable clothes that allow for movement. No oils are used in Thai massage.

The massage recipient changes into loose, comfortable clothes and lies on a mat or firm mattress on the floor.

The receiver is put into many yoga-like positions during the course of the massage.

The massage practitioner leans on the recipient's body using hands and usually straight forearms locked at the elbow to apply firm rhythmic pressure. The massage generally follows the Sen lines on the body — somewhat analogous to meridians or Channel (Chinese Medicine) and Indian nadis. Legs and feet of the giver can be used to fixate the body or limbs of the recipient. In other positions, hands fixate the body, while the feet do the massaging action. A full Thai massage session typically lasts two hours or more, and includes rhythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body; this may include pulling fingers, toes, ears, cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient's back, and arching the recipient's into bhujangasana or (cobra position). There is a standard procedure and rhythm to this massage.