Massage Tecniques that are used are illustrated to the right:

 

  • Pain and Injury Care
  • Relaxation
  • Structural Balancing
  • Emotion Release through Body Work

 

•Studies•

Massage: A relaxing method to relieve stress and pain
A soothing massage can help you unwind, but that's not all.

Explore the health benefits and risks, then find out what to expect.
You might think of a massage as a luxury found in exotic spas and upscale health clubs. But did you know that massage, when combined with traditional medical treatments, can reduce stress and promote healing in people with certain health conditions?

During a massage, a therapist manipulates your body's soft tissues — your muscles, skin and tendons — using his or her fingertips, hands and fists. Massage can be performed by several types of health care professionals, such as a massage therapist, physical therapist or occupational therapist. Several versions of massage exist, and they're performed in a variety of settings.

A massage may make you feel relaxed, but it isn't likely to cure everything that ails you. And, if performed incorrectly, it could hurt you. Learning about massage before you try one can help ensure that the experience is safe and enjoyable.

Health benefits of massage
Massage can relieve tension in your muscles, and most people use it for relaxation, relief of stress and anxiety, or to reduce muscle soreness. Massage can also cause your body to release natural painkillers, and it boosts your immune system.

While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found it helpful for:

Anxiety Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.
Pain Pain was decreased in studies of people with fibromyalgia, migraines and recent surgeries. Back pain also might be relieved by massage. However, back pain study results have been contradictory, and more research is required.
Labor pain Massage during labor appears to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles and help block pain.
Infant growth Massage encouraged weight gain in premature babies and reduced the number of days they stayed in the hospital.
Children with diabetes Children who were massaged every day by their parents were more likely to stick to their medication and diet regimens, which helped reduce their blood glucose levels.
Sports-related soreness Some athletes receive massages after exercise, especially to the muscles they use most in their sport or activity. A massage might help increase blood flow to your muscles and may reduce muscle soreness after you exercise.
Alcohol withdrawal Massage during withdrawal from alcohol has shown benefits when combined with traditional medical treatment by increasing feelings of support, safety and engagement in the therapy.
Immune system
People with HIV who participated in massage studies showed an increased number of natural killer cells, which are thought to defend the body from viral and cancer cells.
Cancer treatment People with cancer who received regularly-scheduled massage therapy during treatment reported less anxiety, pain and fatigue.
Self-esteem Because massage involves direct contact with another person through touch, it can make you feel cared for. That special attention can improve self-image in people with physical disabilities and terminal illnesses. And using touch to convey caring can help children with severe physical disabilities

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Risks of massage
Massage is generally safe as long as it's done by a trained therapist. But massage isn't for everyone. And for some people it can even be dangerous. Discuss massage with your doctor before making an appointment if you have:

  • Burns or open wounds on the area to be massaged
  • Had a recent heart attack
  • Cancer — you'll want to avoid direct pressure on the tumor area
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Unhealed fractures
  • Rheumatoid arthritis in the area to be massaged
  • Severe osteoporosis

In addition, talk to your doctor before getting a massage if you're pregnant.

Massage done properly rarely leads to severe injuries. Ask your massage therapist about his or her training and qualifications — some states require licensing. And if any part of your massage doesn't feel right or is painful, speak up right away. Most serious problems come from too much pressure during massage. In rare circumstances, massage can cause:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Nerve damage
  • Temporary paralysis

Talk to your doctor and your massage therapist if you have any concerns about your risk of injury. Asking questions can help you feel more at ease.

What to expect during a massage
No matter what kind of massage you choose, you should feel calm and relaxed during and after your massage. When you go for a massage, you can expect to:

Answer a few questions. Your massage therapist will want to know what you want from your massage. Are you looking for help with a pulled muscle? Massage therapists will also want to know about any medical conditions you may have, so they can decide if massage is safe for you or how to make it safer.
Disrobe. You'll be asked to remove your clothes, or at least most of them. Your massage therapist should give you privacy while you take your clothes off and provide a robe or a towel to cover yourself. A good massage therapist will understand your modesty and keep you covered as much as possible throughout the massage. If taking your clothes off doesn't sound relaxing or if you're pressed for time, try a chair massage. These massages are conducted while you sit in a special chair that slopes forward so the massage therapist can work on your back. You keep your clothes on for this massage — it's often done in the open, rather than in a private room.
Be asked to lie down. Most massages will require you to lie on a padded table. Pillows or bolsters might be used to position you during the massage. This allows you to relax completely during the massage. Music usually plays softly while you're massaged.
Have oils and lotions used on your skin. Some massage therapists use oils or lotions to reduce friction while massaging your body. If you're allergic to any ingredients commonly found in body oils and lotions, tell your massage therapist. He or she might have products without that ingredient. You may opt not to use oils and lotions.
Never feel significant pain. Pain that's more significant than momentary discomfort could indicate that something is wrong. If a massage therapist is pushing too hard, tell him or her to lighten the pressure. Your massage therapist will expect feedback from you to understand how best to massage you. Occasionally you may have a sensitive spot in a muscle that feels like a knot. It's likely to be uncomfortable while your massage therapist works it out. But if it becomes painful, speak up.
Spend about an hour. Most table massages are about an hour, though some can be 30 minutes to 90 minutes long. It's your preference.
A health care tool
For many conditions and injuries, massage may be a means to help you feel more relaxed and less anxious and to reduce pain. It's one of several useful tools for managing your health, but it doesn't take the place of standard medical treatment and exercise.


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Mayo Clinic

Healing Services:

Emotional, Spiritual and Physical

Holistic Massage Prices:

$60/ 60 minutes
$70 / 75 minutes
$80/ 90 minutes
$115 / 120 minutes


Pain Care

A consumer survey commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association? (AMTA) reveals that more people than ever are seeking massage to manage and relieve pain. The survey shows that nearly half, 47 percent, of those polled have had a massage specifically for pain relief.

A 2003 survey of 1,998 massage clients showed that 63 percent believed massage therapy provided them greater pain relief than chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy or other bodywork.

Clinical research has shown massage therapy can:

  • Be more effective for chronic back pain than other complementary therapies.
  • Promote relaxation and alleviate the perception of pain and anxiety in cancer patients.
  • Reduce post-traumatic headaches better than cold pack treatments.
  • Lessen pain and muscle spasms in patients who have undergone heart bypass surgery when part of hospital-based surgery treatment.
  • Stimulate the brain to produce endorphins.
  • Improve confidence by encouraging patients to effectively cope with their pain.


Relaxation or Swedish

We experience all of life through the physical reality of our bodies. Our pleasures and pains, the ups and downs of daily life affect the body profoundly, often in ways we're not aware of. Stress is more than a household word these days - it's something everyone feels to one degree or another. Let's take a look at the mechanics of stress and the role therapeutic massage can play in stress management.

Understanding The Stress Response
Stress is an unconscious and automatic reaction to anything we believe may be threatening to us. In the stress response, the body is primed for fight or flight by messages carried by the sympathetic branch of the nervous system. Whether we are confronted by a mugger in the street or find ourselves in a long line at the bank or a short lunch hour, the effects are the same, impacting all levels - physical, mental and emotional.

We are at full readiness as our body tenses and our breathing gets shallower and more rapid. There is an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline production, with a corresponding decrease in blood flow to the extremities, digestive function, and immune system activity.

Ideally, this defensive reaction will subside once the situation has resolved, allowing our body to return to its normal state of affairs. We often help this process with some rest, the right exercise or massage therapy.

However, a person who is frequently under stressful influences will tend to remain locked into a pattern of stress response, unable to relax or let go. This type of pattern is damaging to the body; as it escalates, it ultimately leads to discomfort or pain, and is a contributing factor in most disease processes.

The longer one is in pain, the more likely one will try to block it out. It is at this point that alcohol and drugs often enter the picture. Unfortunately, as one uses substances which deaden the nervous system to reduce the perception of the pain, awareness of oneself and others are reduced in the process.

In Our Everyday Experience
Like driving a car with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake, we experience stress whenever we initiate an action and hold it back at the same time. Our ever-obedient muscles try to obey both messages and work against each other.

In the same way, we have our own unique muscular responses to the expression of emotions such as anger, sadness, fear and exhilaration. We use our muscles to block, control and restrain these strong feeling and our reaction to them. Even though we may be unaware of the amount of tension we store within, it puts extra wear and tear on both mind and body over time.

Maintaining these patterns of chronic tension is like leaving the lights on all night - it takes energy; but once it's a habit, we no longer recognize it as such. What we do notice are the aches, pains, fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, PMS, or a host of other stress-related symptoms. These symptoms are important signals to be heeded, rather than ignored or bypassed. Accumulated stress and tension always diminish the amount of energy and vitality we have to enjoy life, be creative and productive and strive for better things.

The Relaxation Response
The antidote to stress is known as the relaxation response, which is triggered by the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system. This action sends messages to the body to relax, slow down and take a deep breath: saying in effect, it's time for rest and healing.

There are a number of ways to promote this response, such as exercise, meditation, listening to calming music, guided visualization, biofeedback, and of course, therapeutic massage.

Massage takes place in a comfortable and safe environment, which is generally away from the source of most stressors. As massage stimulates the relaxation response, muscular tension is released, circulation is increased and sensory receptors are activated. Areas that have been "cut off" by accumulated stress can begin to feel once again. Massage teaches us to tune in to body signals and soothes us at the same time.

All of this results in greater body awareness which can help you to more carefully monitor your own body's responses and needs. Then you can release tension before it becomes chronic and damaging. Living in a more relaxed and balanced body will enable you to better handle the stresses in you life, and nothing can take you back to that state of well-being more quickly than massage.


© 2002 Healing Touch, Inc. All Rights reserved

 

Sports Massage
Why are so many sports and fitness enthusiasts including regular therapeutic massage as a part of their conditioning programs? There is a growing awareness that a complete workout routine includes not only the exercises itself, but also caring for the wear-and-tear of minor injuries that naturally occur with strenuous movement. The physiological and psychological benefits of massage make it an ideal compliment to a total program.

Who can benefit from regular massage? Anyone who routinely stretches their physical limits through movement such as running, cycling, hiking, swimming, dancing, tennis and other racquet sports, strength training and aerobics. In fact, anyone who uses their bodies strenuously in their work will find relief with therapeutic massage.

Massage is beneficial when starting a conditioning program because it helps you get into good shape faster, with less stiffness and soreness. It helps you recover faster from heavy workouts and relieves conditions which may cause injury. Massage can be something to look forward to after a workout - a healthy reward.

What Happens When You Exercise? Regular exercise produces positive physical results like increased muscular strength and endurance, more efficient heart and respiratory functioning, and greater flexibility. Exercise, along with a healthy diet, also results in less body fat and greater lean body mass. These are the components of health-related fitness.

These positive physical changes occur as the body gradually adapts to the greater demands put on it by regular exercise. The body improves its functioning to meet the challenges placed on it. Conditioning has been described as a process of pushing the physical limits (tearing down), recovery, and the building up to meet the new demands. Recovery is often overlooked, but is essential for the rebuilding phase, and to realizing the benefits of a conditioning program.

The "tearing down" phase of the adaptation process often involves stiffness and soreness, especially when the amount of movement is significantly increased from what the body has been use to in the past. Referring to post-exercise soreness, people often comment about finding muscles "I didn't even know I had."

Delayed muscle soreness (24-48 hours after exercise) may be caused by any number of different factors. Some possible causes are minor muscle or connective tissue damage, local muscle spasms that reduce blood flow, or a build up of waste products from energy production.

Trigger points or stress points may also cause pain when pressed, which may radiate pain to a larger area. They are not bruises, but rather small areas of spasm. Trigger points may be caused by sudden trauma (like falling or being hit), or from repeated use of a particular muscle.

Heavily exercised muscle may also lose their capacity to relax, causing chronically tight muscles and loss of flexibility. Lack of flexibility is often linked to muscle soreness, and predisposes you to injuries, especially muscle pulls and tears. Blood flow through tight muscles is poor, which also causes pain.

How does massage help? Recovery. Therapeutic massage helps the body recover from the stresses of strenuous exercise and facilitates the rebuilding phase of conditioning. The physiological benefits of massage include improved blood and lymph circulation, muscle relaxation and general relaxation. These in turn lead to removal of waste products and better cell nutrition, normalization and greater elasticity of tissues, deactivation of trigger points and faster healing of injuries. It all adds up to relief from soreness and stiffness, better flexibility and less potential for future injury.

In addition to general recovery, massage may also focus on specific muscles used in sport or fitness activity. For example, areas of greater stress for runners and dancers are in the legs, for swimmers in the upper body, for tennis players in the arms, for golfers in the low back. These areas are more likely to be tight, loose flexibility and develop trigger points.

Overtraining. Adequate recovery is also a major factor in avoiding the overtraining syndrome. Overtraining is characterized by irritability, apathy, altered appetite, increased frequency of injury, increased resting heart rate, and/ or insomnia. It occurs when the body is not allowed to recover adaquately between bouts of heavy exercise. Therapeutic massage helps you avoid overtraining by facilitating recovery through general relaxation and its other physiological effects.

Trouble Spots. You may also have your own unique trouble spots, perhaps from past injuries. A massage therapist can pay special attention to these areas, monitor them for developing problems and help keep them in good condition.

© 2002 Healing Touch, Inc. All Rights reserved

 

  • Infant Massage I gladly show parents an easy technique for infant massage; a perfect way to integrate touch and bonding for lasting relationships

    Pregnancy Massage
    During pregnancy a woman's body undergoes many changes, some of them stressful and uncomfortable.
  • Massage is a perfect way to reduce stress and promote general well-being.
  • Massage helps mom's body to eliminate waste products through the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which combats fatigue and helps the mother feel more energetic. By aiding circulation, massage eases the load on mom's heart and helps to keep her blood pressure in check.
  • Muscular discomforts, such as cramping, tightening, stiffness, tension, and knots, can all be alleviated.
  • Massage helps carry away the lactic acid and other cellular waste products that build up and cause muscle fatigue.
  • Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes mom is experiencing.
  • Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts during pregnancy, such as backaches, a stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches, edema, and sore, swollen ankles and feet.
  • Massage increases local and general blood circulation, which brings more oxygen and nutrients to the cells of both the mother and fetus. This means greater vitality and less fatigue for mom and better nourishment for her baby.
  • Massage stimulates glandular secretions, which helps stabilize hormone levels.
  • Massage can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes mom is experiencing.
    It relaxes tense muscles and tones loose muscles, and can also increase muscular flexibility. Flexibility will be most helpful during the last trimester and during the birth itself.
  • Massage helps to soothe and relax nervous tension, which helps the mother sleep more easily and more deeply. Incidentally, doctors all agree that a relaxed mother will have a happier, healthier pregnancy and possibly an easier childbirth experience, too.
  • Massage can be used during the birth to make it easier and more comfortable for mom, and after the birth as well, to help her regain her strength more quickly and ease postpartum stress.

    by Joanna Napolitano

 

 
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