Massage, in its simplest form, is an instinctive therapy.
Isn’t it often that, when you experience an aching sensation anywhere in the body, you try to rub and knead the pain away?
By definition, massage is the intentional and systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body, to enhance health and healing. It uses different techniques to promote increased blood flow and subsequent healing.
Releasing tension from the muscles is an integral part of massage therapy. For example, most headaches originate from tensed neck muscles. Much of the pain of angina comes from the hyper-contraction of the chest muscles, while abdominal and pelvic pain is frequently caused by trigger points in the local muscles.
Massage therapy is a holistic experience that is relaxing as well as energising. This “hands-on” therapy works on the principle of manipulation of the tissues to aid the healing process.
The uniqueness of this therapy is that it doesn’t just affect the skin the largest organ in our body – but also all our sense organs. It is a method of reconnection of mind to body, and of our senses to one another.
HOW DOES THIS WORK?
Applying rhythmic compression to the energy lines and points, together with deep stretching, releases tension from the entire system. Massage is nurturing and offers a means to break down barriers we set around ourselves. This experience results in a sense of relaxation and feeling of well-being.
Massage works both on the superficial and deeper layers of muscles, ligaments, joints, connective tissues and other areas of the body including the nervous, digestive and respiratory systems. It also stimulates blood circulation and assists the lymphatic system in elimination of toxins.
According to Eastern philosophy the body’s vital life energy flows in centres or channels that are located in the body. These energy channels also affect our mental, physical and emotional state of balance. When there are imbalances or blockages in the distribution of energy, the result is pain and disease. When energy distribution is balanced, there is complete harmony of body, mind and emotions.
TYPES OF MASSAGE
There are over 100 types of massages in use today. Some of the popular ones are:
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
A slow, focused style of massage that often works across the direction of the muscle fibers to release chronic muscle tension and break up calcified bruises in the muscles.
A specialized form of Swedish massage developed for athletes, but useful for anyone with chronic pain, stiffness or injury. The massage is usually localized or focused on the problem area. Sports massage is also useful before and after sporting events, in which case the areas addressed are those that are used in the particular activity.
Gentle, rhythmic, repetitive strokes stimulate and promote the movement of lymphatic fluids, the body’s filtration and infection control system. This is especially useful for those who suffer from edema (excess fluid and swelling).
MYOFASCIAL RELEASE MASSAGE
The fascia is connective tissue that encloses every structure in the body. In this type of massage, the therapist focuses on stretching and releasing adhesions of the fascia surrounding the muscles, resulting in release of muscular tension.
This type of massage employs a combination of long strokes and kneading, generally in the direction of the heart. It uses oil as a lubricant. The emphasis is on increasing circulation and relaxing the nervous system.
Water treatment can be used to enhance health and treat a variety of health problems. A form of underwater massage is the hydrotherapy bath, consisting of several water jets. The pressure of the water from these water jets promotes circulation, provides relaxation and results in elimination of toxins and reduction of cellulite.
Shiatsu is a Japanese word meaning “finger pressure”. The application of pressure is the underlying principle of Shiatsu. The treatment approach and philosophy is similar to acupuncture in its usage of energy channels and pressure points, but it involves applying finger pressure as opposed to needles. In addition to application of pressure, assisted stretches are also given to help relieve body stiffness.
A fluid style of massage developed 2500 years ago in Buddhist monasteries as a form of healing practice, this type of massage involves using of pressure points, assisted, active stretching of muscles and ligaments. Through manipulations of muscles, the spine is elongated, and the entire body is stretched and relieved of tension.
Ayurvedic massage, developed over 5000 years ago, works on both a physical and mental level. The purpose of the massage is to assist the body and its organs to repair and renew themselves. Practitioners concentrate on energy centres and muscle manipulation, to treat individual needs. During this process, warm herbal oil is lavishly applied on the body to assist in the therapeutic cure.
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