What Is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, known as the "father of medicine. "The physician must be acquainted with many things, and assuredly with rubbing."
Now days, in addition to "rubbing," massage therapy, often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily the hands, although massage therapists do use other areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. All of the techniques are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences the overall health and well-being of the client:
Deep-tissue massage utilizes slow strokes, direct pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles with the fingers, thumbs or elbows. Deep-tissue massage works deeply into the muscles and connective tissue to release chronic aches and pains; its purpose is to reach the fascia beneath the surface muscles.
Soft-tissue massage is a generic term for any modality that is used to treat the soft tissues in the body, including muscle, fascia, and scar tissue. Common modalities used include Swedish, myofascial release, deep-tissue massage, trigger-point therapy, connective tissue massage.
Orthopedic massage combines several massage and medical massage techniques to treat pain and soft-tissue injury. It focuses heavily on injury assessment and rehabilitation, emphasizing the importance of selecting the appropriate modality to treat the injury. Orthopedic massage is often used in conjuction with sports massage protocols.
Prenatal, or pregnancy, massage uses gentle techniques to help alleviate some of the ailments associated with pregancy, including lower back, neck and shoulder pain; fatigue; joint tenderness; and stretch marks. Prenatal massage can help improve circulation, promote stress reduction and relaxation, and much more. Practitioners should be well-trained in prenatal massage in order to deliver safe and effective care, and patients should check with their doctors prior to receiving treatment. (Authorization of Primary Care Dr.)
Infant massage has proved beneficial for both infants and their families on a number of levels. It is used regularly in hospital neonatal units and has been linked with helping premature infants gain weight. Infant massage has been shown to help relieve colic, induce sleep, promote relaxation, improve sensory integration, and enhance neurological development, among other things; moreover, the practice of massage helps build the bond between babies and their parents.
Chair massage, also known as seated massage, is fast becoming one of the most popular ways in which to practice. Generally, chair massage is administered onsite at various locations, including health fairs, airports, shopping malls and in corporate settings. Clients remain fully clothed and treatments generally last from 15-30 minutes. Chair massage is usually limited to the back, neck and arms.