One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, are used to manipulate the soft tissues of the body. The disrobed client is covered by a sheet, with only the area being worked on exposed.
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Ergonomic chairs serve a similar function as a massage table. Chairs may be either stationary or portable models. Massage chairs are easier to transport than massage tables, and recipients do not need to disrobe to receive a chair massage. Due to these two factors, chair massage is often performed in settings such as corporate offices, outdoor festivals, shopping malls, and other public locations.
While a foot massage may feel the same as a reflexology treatment, a reflexologist will work on areas to promote a healing response in the corresponding organs. A massage therapist giving a foot massage will manipulate muscles and other soft tissues to improve circulation, relieve pain, and heal injuries in the area or to induce overall relaxation.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications, or my blog, Writerly. You might run into me on Facebook or Twitter.
In massage therapy, so much can be achieved while inflicting only good pain on patients that bad pain must be justified by vivid, quick, and somewhat lasting benefits — which is a high bar to clear. All health care practices must be justified by benefits. As risk and pain and expense increase, the benefits must also. There is simply no point in tolerating — and paying for — painful treatment without an obvious return on the investment.
Swedish massage is the most common massage therapy technique in the United States. (In case you were wondering, Swedish massage is called “classic massage” in Sweden.) A Swedish massage focuses on overall relaxation, circulation, and physical and mental wellness. Swedish massage includes gliding, kneading, tapping, stretching, and cross-friction strokes.
Reflexology (or foot reflexology) is a therapy based on the principle that there are small and specific areas of innervation in the hands and feet that correspond to specific muscle groups or organs of the body. In this system, the nerve endings in the extremities provide a “map” of the rest of the body. Examples are the base of the little toe representing the ear, or the ball of the foot representing the lung. Through the application of pressure on particular areas of the hands or feet, reflexology is said to promote benefits such as the relaxation of tension, improvement of circulation, and support of normalized function in the related area in the body.
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Hot stone massage is best for people who have muscle pain and tension or who simply want to relax. This type of therapeutic massage is similar to a Swedish massage, only the massage therapist uses heated stones in lieu of or in addition to their hands. It eases muscle tension, improves blood flow, and relieves pain by using heated stones. Hot stone massage may help:
Using this chart, you can perform something like pain relief for the shoulders. The proper technique here would be to find on the foot the part of the spine that is level with the shoulders (from bottom of big toe to where the ball of the foot finishes), locate the part of the spine that is level with the shoulder area (from the base of big toe to where ball of foot finishes), thumb walk this part on the spine area up and down for several minutes, and then thumb walk the entire shoulder area.
Pre-event massage is given shortly before an athlete competes. It consists mainly of brisk effleurage to stimulate and warm the muscles and petrissage to help muscles move fluidly and to reduce muscle tension. Effleurage is generally a relaxing stroke , but when done briskly it is stimulating. As the massage progresses, the pressure increases as the massage therapist uses percussive strokes and cupping to stimulate the muscles to contract and flex. The part of the body being massaged varies from sport to sport, although leg and back muscles are common targets for this type of massage.
Popular among active people, Swedish massages are the perfect balance between toning and relaxation. Their numerous benefits, such as muscle tension relief, improved circulation, and reduced side effects of stress, are designed to revitalize the body. Using gentle-to-medium pressure, each kneading and stretching motion is adapted to your needs and is used specifically to warm your muscles and loosen your joints. This massage is one of the most popular in the Western world.
Friction strokes work on deeper muscles than the techniques previously described. The friction technique is a pressure stroke and is the deepest that is used in Swedish massage. The massage therapist applies pressure by placing the weight of his or her body on the flat of the hand and the pads of the thumbs, knuckles, fingers, or the back of the forearms, and then releases the pressure slowly and gently. This movement should be a continuous sliding motion or a group of alternating circular motions.
great for the active and the serious athlete. a customized massage to soothe strained muscle groups that may include all aspects of massage determined by each guest’s level of athleticism. massage combined with hot stone, stretching and deep kneading eases tension in tight muscles, stimulating healing and improving recovery time from intensive training and long, stressful days.
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Addressing anything from headaches to sinus problems to stomach issues, if sensitivity or tenderness is experienced when certain areas of the foot are stimulated, it usually indicates bodily weaknesses or imbalances within the corresponding organ. With repeated practice of applying pressure and manipulating nerve endings (traditionally in the foot), reflexology can help to clear any channels of blocked energy through moving the flow of blood, nutrients and nerve impulses to ultimately improve overall health and balance. In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on the hands or ears to trigger relaxation as well.
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There are five main techniques in Swedish massage: effleurage, friction, petrissage, tapotement and vibration. Within each category there are various movements, all intended to ease muscle tension and pain. Each movement has a specific purpose for loosening, warming, soothing or stimulating your muscles during your massage. Here is a breakdown of each of the five Swedish massage techniques:
Did you know that the bottom of your feet could affect what's going on in other areas of your body? On each foot there are over 7,000 nerve endings called reflexes that correspond to every organ and system within your body. By pressing on these reflex points, you stimulate the nervous system and open energy pathways that may be blocked or congested.
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What sets deep tissue massage apart is its ability to impact deeper layers of muscle and tissue. This also means that getting a deep tissue massage is more about stimulation than relaxation. If you have regular aches and pains due to bad posture or stiffness/soreness because of the nature of your work, deep tissue massage can help relieve the pain and soreness. But before you book an appointment, talk to your massage therapist about specific areas of your body that need relief. Also, keep in mind that a massage is not a complete treatment in itself. For acute pain and chronic conditions, consult your doctor first.
Post-event massage is usually given 1–2 hours after the competition is over in order to give dilated blood vessels a chance to return to their normal condition. Post-event massage is light and gentle in order not to damage already stressed muscles. The goal is to speed up removal of toxic waste products and reduce swelling. Very light effleurage will decrease swelling while light petrissage will help clear away toxins and relieve tense, stiff muscles. Post-event massage can be self-administered on some parts of the body, such as the legs.
Some sports massage therapists use myofascial techniques that focus on stretching the fascia, which are connective tissues surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body. This particular massage technique involves the therapist applying forces in opposing directions which relaxes the tissues. It can help ease pain and increase mobility in the tissues and surrounding muscles.
Depending on the severity of the issue you’re trying to address, you may find that you feel a whole lot better after your first visit—with increased flexibility and blood flow. Still, if you are attempting to resolve a chronic condition, injury, or a condition such as extreme muscular adhesions, you may have to have a few treatments before you begin to feel well. Make sure you discuss how you feel and follow your therapist’s recommendations before and after every visit!
The pathways postulated by reflexologists have not been anatomically demonstrated; and it is safe to assume that they do not exist. Similar rationales are used employed by iridologists (who imagine that eye markings represent disease throughout the body) and auricular acupuncturists who "map" body organs on the ear (a homunculus in the fetal position). The methodology is similar in both of these; and some commentators consider pressing on "acupuncture points" on the ear or elsewhere to be forms of reflexology, but most people refer to that as acupressure ("acupuncture without needles). The Reflexology Research Web site displays charts for foot and hand reflexology. The fees I have seen advertised have ranged from $35 to $100 per session.
Swedish massage is a very relaxing and therapeutic style of bodywork. It combines oil or lotion with an array of strokes — such as rolling, kneading, and percussion — to help the body improve its circulation. The benefits of this type of bodywork are wide-ranging and include relief from aches and pains, decreased stress levels in the body, enhanced mental clarity, improved appearance, and greater flexibility.