Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hands on Healing

Massage therapy is often seen as a modern luxury, however massage is one of the oldest documented forms of healthcare. The power of touch has been used all over the world for nearly 4,000 years.  The practice of massage was even recorded by Hippocrates (the father of Medicine).   Whether you are seeking relief from stress, treating an injury or just looking for the luxury of spa services, there is no doubt that massage is a powerful part of our modern wellbeing.  Considering that nearly ninety percent of disease stems from stress, massage is one of the best ways to counteract the physical effects of our stressful, high speed lifestyle.  
'Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles.' -Associated Massage & Bodywork Professionals
Here are a few things that can be achieved by receiving professional massage regularly:
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Enhanced sleep quality
  • Greater energy
  • Improved concentration
  • Increased circulation
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Relief of tired and aching muscles 
  • Increased flexibility and range of motion
  • Diminished chronic pain
  • Enhanced skin tone
  • Strengthened the immune system
  • Reduced tension/migraine headaches 
  • Improved concentration
Currently the AMBP (Association of Massage & Bodywork Professionals) recognizes 250 variations of massage. A few of the most popular are:

Swedish:collection of techniques designed primarily to relax muscles by applying pressure to them against deeper soft tissue, and rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart.   Swedish massage can relax muscles, increase circulation, remove metabolic waste products, help the recipient obtain a feeling of connectedness, a better awareness of their body and the way they use and position it. Swedish Massage shortens recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissue of lactic acid, uric acid and other metabolic wastes. It improves circulation without increasing heart load. It stretches the ligaments and tendons, keeping them supple. Swedish Massage also stimulates the skin and nervous system while at the same time relaxing the nerves themselves. As it can help reduce emotional and physical stress it is often recommended as part of a regular program for stress management. It also has specific clinical uses in a medical or remedial therapy. 

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT): is a specialized form of manual therapy that uses static pressure on specific myofascial points to relieve pain. This technique manipulates the soft tissue of the body (muscles, tendons and connective tissue) to balance the central nervous system. Conditions such as chronic pain, sciatica, rotator cuff dysfunction, carpal tunnel syndrome, and migraines are helped through this technique. It is said that neuromuscular therapy is one of the most effective types of massage therapy for lower back pain. 
NMT is also used to locate and release spasms and hyper contractions in the tissue. It aids the healing process for injured tissue, assists in venous and lymphatic flow, restores postural alignment, and imparts flexibility to the tissues.  It disperses the lactic acid, so the deficient muscle can begin to accept a clean supply of oxygen and blood flow. Often clients will experience some muscle soreness following a neuromuscular therapy massage. 

Craniosacral:Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, noninvasive method of evaluating and enhancing the function of a physiological body arrangement called the craniosacral system. Developed by John E. Upledger, D.O., O.M.M., this manual therapy enhances the body's natural healing processes and has proven effective in treating a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction. The craniosacral system consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face, and mouth - which make up the cranium - down to the sacrum or tailbone. Since this system influences the development and function of the brain and spinal cord, any imbalance or dysfunction in the craniosacral system could cause sensory, motor, or neurological disabilities. These problems may include chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system. Craniosacral therapy encourages the body's natural healing mechanisms to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, and enhance health and resistance to disease. The craniosacral therapy practitioner uses a light touch to assist the natural movement of fluid within the craniosacral system. Therapists generally use only 5 grams of pressure, roughly the weight of a nickel, to test for restrictions in various parts of the craniosacral system. It's often possible for the evaluation alone to remove the restriction and allow the system to correct itself.

Hot Stone:A unique connection with nature. Stone massage involves the application of water-heated basalt stones of varying sizes to key points on the body, giving a deep massage and creating sensations of comfort and warmth. The direct heat relaxes muscles, allowing manipulation of a greater intensity than with regular massage.

Lymph Drainage:This healing technique has become a popular massage choice. It blends soothing, gentle, rhythmical, precise massage-like movements to accelerate the flow of lymphatic fluid in the body. Deep Tissue Massage Deep Tissue Massage is used to release chronic muscle tension through slower strokes and more direct pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles. This invigorating experience is a process of detection of stiff or painful areas by determining the quality and texture of the deeper layers of musculature, and slowly working into the deep layers of muscle tissue. Specific hand positions and strokes are then used to respond to various tissue qualities. Techniques employing breath and movement are also used for releasing muscular congestion. Rolfing by Dr. Ida Rolf, aligns the major body segments through deep manipulation of the fascia or connective tissue. 

Myofascial Release:A three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions and facilitate the emergence of emotional patterns and belief systems that are no longer relevant or are impeding progress. First, an assessment is made by visually analyzing the human frame, followed by the palpation of the tissue texture of various fascial layers. Upon locating an area of fascial tension, gentle pressure is applied in the direction of the restriction. Myofascial release is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches.

Quantum Touch:This hands-on healing method offers spontaneous adjusting of proper alignment of the body. Principles behind Quantum-Touch involve resonance, intention, attention, breath, and innate body intelligence. Using various breathing techniques and meditations, a light touch is applied to activate the body's own healing process.

As part of out natural aging process, our bodies can become weaker and our muscles and joints become tighter.  Much of this is due to the physical and emotional stress we put on our bodies just by our activities of daily living.  You can slow down that aging process though regular massage and stretching exercises.  

'Massage is the study of anatomy in braille.'
-Jack Meagher

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