Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Destination: Massage

What is my guiltiest pleasure? You guessed it - massage. (Though dark, independent foreign films run a close second.)

I thought in this post I would conquer MASSAGE - why I love, the different methods, as well as the benefits.

If you have never had a professional massage, then you are in for a treat!


First of all - What is massage? It is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being. Don't believe me? Then try it.


But before you run out and book a massage, you need to decide what kind of massage you want.
Sure, all massage  involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. However, when you book a massage, typically you choose a type of massage.

Types of Massage
 Acupressure - is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique derived from acupuncture. With acupressure physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points by the hand, elbow, or with various devices.

Anma -  is a traditional Japanese massage involving kneading and deep tissue work.

Ayurvedic -  is a natural health care system originating in India that incorporates massage, yoga, meditation and herbal remedies. Ayurvedic massage, also known as Abhyangha is usually performed by one or two therapists using a heated blend of herbal oils based on the ayurvedic system.

Balinese -  techniques are gentle and aim to make the patient feel relaxed and calm throughout. The techniques include skin folding, kneading, stroking,and other techniques. The massage therapist applies aromatherapy oil throughout the massage. A patients blood, oxygen and energy flow is said to increase as a result of the treatment.


Barefoot Deep Tissue - also known as barefoot compressive deep tissue, or barefoot sports massage, is a blend of Eastern barefoot techniques, such as barefoot Shiatsu massage, coupled with a Western manual medicine, encompassing deep tissue, myofascial release, trigger point therapy, transverse friction, compression, tension, shear, PNF, stretching, as well as parasympathetic response, on clothed clients using no oil.

Bowen Therapy -  involves a rolling movement over fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints. It is said not to involve deep or prolonged contact with muscle tissues as in most kinds of massage, but claims to relieve muscle tensions and strains and to restore normal lymphatic flow.

Breema Massage - is performed on the floor with the recipient fully clothed. It consists of rhythmical and gentle leans and stretches.

Deep Tissue Massage - is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity (such as athletes), and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is not uncommon for receivers of deep tissue massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly.

Reflexology - is based on the principle that there are reflexes in the hands and feet that relate to every organ, gland, and system of the body.

Shiatsu -  is a Japanese therapy that uses pressure applied with thumbs, fingers and palms to the same energy meridians as acupressure and incorporates stretching. It also uses techniques such as rolling, brushing, vibrating, grasping and, in one particular technique developed by Suzuki Yamamoto, pressure is applied with the feet on the person's back, legs and feet.

Stone Massage -  uses cold or water-heated stones to apply pressure and heat to the body. Stones coated in oil can also be used by the therapist delivering various massaging strokes. The hot stones used are commonly Basalt stones (or lava rocks) which over time, have become extremely polished and smooth. As the stones are placed along the recipient's back, they help to retain heat which then deeply penetrates into the muscles, releasing tension

Swedish Massage - uses five styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthrits of the knee over a period of eight weeks. It has also been shown to be helpful in individuals with poor circulation.

Thai Massage - The technique combines massage with yoga-like positions during the course of the massage; the northern style emphasizes stretching while the southern style emphasizes acupressure.

Traditional Chinese Massage (**my favorite - I get about once every 2 weeks) -
Two types of traditional Chinese massage exist - Tui na  which focuses on pushing, stretching and kneading the muscle and Zhi Ya which focuses on pinching and pressing at acupressure points. Both are based on principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine. Though in the Western countries Tui Na is viewed as massage, it is not. Massage of Chinese Medicine is known as Anmo, which is the foundation of Japan's Anma.

Tui Na is Chinese Medicine's Physio-Therapy. Utilized for medical purposes instead of relaxation, Tui Na works to correct the patient's problems, from musculoskeletal conditions, to diseases, cancers and even minor and major headaches.

That's the basic rundown of the "major" types of massage. Now do you actually benefit from massage and how does it actually work?

Research has shown that massage helps with pain, muscle stiffness, anxiety, stress, blood circulation and actually lowers blood pressure.

It's important to be careful when you book a massage. You definitely want someone who knows what they are doing, and are not.. how do I put it.. a "House of Ill Repute." ;-)

What you are looking for is someone with the following credentials -
  • Licensed Massage Practitioner (LMP)

  • Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT)


  • Average cost of a massage? Generally, $1 a minute. 1 hour - $60. Sure, some spas and resorts charge double.. but it is really all the same. Trust me, I have booked them all - from the $175 at a resort to the $30 for 30 minutes in a chair in the middle of a mall.

    I am a pretty high strung person, and muscle tension is a real problem of mine. I have found that deep tissue and traditional chinese massage is the best for me.

    If you are a modest person, don't worry - you can wear you undies under the blanket, plus they never disrobe you. Only the body part they are working on at that moment is what will be exposed.

    Looking for a massage therapist? There are two really good sites:

    The Massage Therapist Directory from Healthprofs

    and

    American Massage Therapy Association

    Happy Massages!

    3 comments:

    Doris said...

    Wowwwwwww....this is GREAT information Nicole! I never knew there were this many types of massage. I used to go once a month, but the cost got to be more than what I could handle...but I really miss it. I always felt sooo good and "noodly" when they were all done with me!

    Tamika D. said...

    Need-a-massage-NOW!! :0)

    sathyam shonkho said...

    It is a great blog and i loved it but i wish you will write some thing about best best massage chairs one day

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