healing power of human touch is a positive experience that many
people enjoy through therapeutic massage or bodywork. The effects
of a good massage go much deeper than the skin's surface. Massage
Help improve circulation of the blood and lower blood pressure.
2) Act as a detoxification system by propelling toxic waste products
through the lymphatic system.
3) Help to improve muscle tone and prevent muscular atrophy resulting
from inactivity or illness.
4) Reduce emotional stress and promote a sense of well-being.
can something as simple as this hands-on therapy have so many positive
benefits? A tense or painful muscle is one which is often chronically
contracted. In an acute situation such as recent injury, the muscle
can be in actual spasm. This contraction or spasm decreases the
flow of blood to the muscle, which leads to a decrease in the nutrient
and oxygen supply to the cells of the muscle and related nerves.
A chronically contracted muscle will build up lactic acid, a sign
of fatigue. This oxygen shortage and lactic acid buildup irritates
the nerve cells, which perpetuates the contracted muscles. Massage
can help remove the lactic acid and other metabolic waste products
from the cells and reverse this process, interrupting the vicious
cycle of pain-spasm-pain.
are a multitude of massage styles which are beneficial, depending
upon the individual's needs and preferences. They include:
Massage: this is the basic "relaxation" style of bodywork,
which uses long strokes, squeezing and kneading. The Swedish practitioner
helps to improve circulation by working to loosen or relax the superficial
layers of muscle. This type of massage is particularly useful for
muscles which are already sore from stress or a tough workout, as
it is often more gentle than other styles.
Massage: this form of massage works on a deeper level of musculature
or connective tissue. This style fits more with the "no pain,
no gain" philosophy. The therapist uses slow, hard strokes
and deep, sustained finger pressure to work deeply into the contracted
muscles, fascia and tendons. This technique increases flexibility,
encourages muscles to work at their fullest capacity, and speeds
up the healing process by reducing swelling following an injury.
It is especially indicated for athletes and "week-end warriors"
who suffer from tight or sore muscles.
and Acupressure: rather than being simply relaxing, this form of
bodywork tends to be invigorating. Fingers, thumbs, fists and elbows
are used to apply pressure to points along acupuncture meridians,
which are believed to be the energy pathways of the body. The focus
of this type of therapy is on relieving blocks in the pathways and
rebalancing the flow of energy.
and Zone Therapy: reflexology works on the assumption that parts
of the feet (as well as parts of the ears and hands) correspond
to other parts of the body's anatomy. In other words, stress or
illness in a certain part of the body may show up as a painful or
sensitive area on a specific area of the foot. Reflexologists apply
pressure to the side, top or bottom of the feet to help reduce dysfunction
in other parts of the body.
all techniques work for everyone, so make sure to inquire about
the philosophy and style of the massage therapist you call. If your
massage isn't as satisfying as you had hoped, don't give up. Try
another therapist! Massage therapy schools are a cost-effective
way to test out different styles of massage; senior students generally
work for lower fees while they complete their internship.
are a few conditions in which massage would not be a good option,
such as marked inflammation, fever, significant swelling or very
severe pain. But for the garden variety aches and pains that most
of us experience, as well as for the general stresses of life, massage
is an outstanding way to treat ourselves to a positive, revitalizing