What is Massage?
Massage Therapy is the most requested service at most spas. The fees range from $50 per hour to some self-employed therapists who will fetch $100 per hour, plus tips.
The ancient civilizations of the Chinese, Egyptians, Hindus and Persians used massage therapy as a principal treatment for many ailments. Moreover, the fact that Americans spend 6 billion dollars a year on Massage Therapy, gives you an idea of its popularity in treating a wide range of disorders.
Massage is rubbing the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles. Massage may be helpful in reducing tension and pain, improving blood flow, and encouraging relaxation. Massage therapists usually apply pressure with their hands, but they can also use their forearms, elbows, or feet. There are at least 80 different types of massage. Some are gentle, and some are very active and intense.
For example, Swedish massage is very gentle and is often used to promote relaxation, improve blood flow, and relieve muscle tension. The therapist uses long, gliding strokes and kneading and tapping techniques on the top layer of muscles in the direction of blood flow to the heart. This may also include moving the joints gently to improve range of motion.
Deep tissue massage is more active and intense. It is used to treat long-lasting muscle tension. The therapist applies slow strokes (with the fingers, thumbs, and elbows) using intense pressure to reach deeper layers of the muscles than those reached with a Swedish massage technique.
You can use self-massage to unwind after work or school, or to energize yourself in the morning. You can easily massage your feet, hands, or neck while doing other tasks or while relaxing. Self-massage works best if you are in comfortable clothes and are sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Use oil or lotion to massage bare skin.
Trigger point massage is less gentle and can sometimes be uncomfortable. The therapist applies firm pressure to knots or tight, tense muscles that have been overused or injured, continuing until the muscles relax. Let your massage therapist know if you feel any discomfort during the massage.
Some people feel that massage works because the touch is healing. Touch also communicates a sense of caring.
What is Massage Used For?
People use massage to promote relaxation and relieve pain. It can also relieve muscle tension and may improve blood flow, relieve pressure on nerves, and restore normal joint movement.
Most studies on massage show that massage reduces anxiety and may improve blood flow and decrease muscle tension. In addition, countless medical studies have revealed that massages do in fact reduce pain. Besides reducing physical pain, massage therapy has been used to increase flexibility, treat Alzheimer's patients, relieve high blood pressure from stress, and alleviate depression.
Is Massage Safe?
When done properly, massage is considered safe. Certification by the American Massage Therapy Association ensures that your massage therapist has a certain level of training and uses certain practice guidelines. Keep in mind that massage may be expensive, is generally not covered by insurance, and requires a time commitment.
Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy. Here is a Guide to Some of the Most Popular Types of Massage Therapy
Swedish Massage Therapy
This is the most common type of massage therapy in the United States. It is also known as Swedish Massage or simply Massage Therapy.
Massage therapists use long smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements on superficial layers of muscle using massage lotion or oil.
Swedish massage therapy can be very gentle and relaxing. If you've never had massage before, this is a good one to try first.
Aromatherapy massage is massage therapy with the addition of one or more scented plant oils called essential oils to address specific needs.
The massage therapist can select oils that are relaxing, energizing, stress-reducing, balancing, etc. One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender.
Aromatherapy massage is particularly suited to stress-related conditions or conditions with an emotional component.
Hot Stone Massage
Heated, smooth stones are placed on certain points on the body to warm and loosen tight muscles and balance energy centers in the body.
The massage therapist may also hold stones and apply gentle pressure with them. The warmth is comforting. Hot stone massage is good for people who have muscle tension but prefer lighter massage.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage targets the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue. The massage therapist uses slower strokes or friction techniques across the grain of the muscle.
Deep tissue massage is used for chronically tight or painful muscles, repetitive strain, postural problems, or recovery from injury. People often feel sore for one to two days after deep tissue massage.
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese bodywork that uses localized finger pressure in a rhythmic sequence on acupuncture meridians.
Each point is held for for two to eight seconds to improve the flow of energy and help the body regain balance.
People are normally pleasantly surprised when they try shiatsu for the first time. It is relaxing yet the pressure is firm, and there is usually no soreness afterwards.
Like shiatsu, Thai massage aligns the energies of the body using gentle pressure on specific points. Thai massage also includes compressions and stretches.
You don't just lie there--the therapist moves and stretches you into a sequence of postures. It's like yoga without doing any work. Thai massage is more energizing than other forms of massage. It is also reduces stress and improves flexibility and range of motion.
Also called prenatal massage, pregnancy massage is becoming increasingly popular with expectant mothers. Massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage know the proper way to position and support the woman's body during the massage, and how to modify techniques.
Pregnancy massage is used to reduce stress, decrease swelling, relieve aches and pains, and reduce anxiety and depression. The massage is customized to a woman's individual needs.
Although reflexology is sometimes called foot massage, it is more than simple foot massage. Reflexology involves applying pressure to certain points on the foot that correspond to organs and systems in the body. Reflexology is very relaxing, especially for people who stand on their feet all day or just have tired, achy feet.
Sports massage is specifically designed for people who are involved in physical activity. But you don't have to be a professional athlete to have one. It is also used by people who are active and work-out often. The focus isn't on relaxation but on preventing and treating injury and enhancing athletic performance.
A combination of techniques are used. The strokes are generally faster than Swedish Massage. Facilitated stretching is a common technique. It helps to loosen muscles and increase flexibility.
Some massage clinics and spas offer 30-minute back massages. If a back massage is not expressly advertised, you can also book a 30 or 40 minute massage and ask that the massage therapist focus on your back.
These are just 10 of the more popular types of massage. However, there are many more.
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