Top Ten Massage Techniques Explained
Swedish massage, the most popular worldwide, is also known as ‘Classic massage’ and is the foundation for most other types of Western massage.
The five basic strokes of Swedish massage include:
Effleurage (sliding or gliding)
Tapotement (rhythmic tapping)
Friction (cross fiber)
Reflexology, also known as zone therapy, is based on the concept that there are “reflex” areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. The underlying theory is that if pressure is applied to a specific reflex area, it affects the organ represented.
This seated treatment involves applying pressure to “Zone” areas on the feet and hands with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. Reflexology stimulates internal organs, boosts circulation and can restore bodily functions to normal. Reflexology promotes healing by stimulating the foot, which increases the flow of vital energy to various parts of the body as well as releases endorphins (the body’s natural pain killers)
Hot Stone Massage
A hot stone massage is a full body massage treatment that uses smooth flat water heated stones placed along both sides of the spine (the chakra centres). The aim is to relax muscles and relieve tension very quickly. Differently weighted stones are used for different amounts of pressure.
Hot stone massage combines the proven benefits of Swedish massage with the deep heat and pressure provided by using warm basalt stones and soothing oils to relax the muscles, allowing for a deeper and more intense all-over massage. The stones are used as tools to deliver effective tissue and muscle massage at light, medium or deep pressure levels in the treatment of sore muscles, back pain, stress and other common ailments. Benefits include the restoration of the body’s natural balance, deep muscle relaxation, improved circulation and the sensation of all over comfort and warmth.
Shiatsu massage is a traditional hands-on therapy originating in Japan used to achieve the harmony of chi in the body. Shiatsu works on the whole being, from the physical to the spiritual.
Shiatsu, also known as acupressure, is a finger pressure massage which involves acupressure techniques (without the needles) using hand, thumbs, elbows and knees incorporating pressure, holding, rubbing, heating or stretching movements which can be deep and firm. Usually performed on a floor mat or futon, Shiatsu is a deeply relaxing experience which stimulates the body’s own healing systems and brings the body into balance, energetically and physically. Shiatsu massage is best known for relief of stress-related symptoms such as headaches and general muscle tension as well as increasing mental and spiritual awareness.
Neuromuscular massage therapy is a deep form of tissue massage for reducing muscle pain through the stimulation of circulation to the nervous system. The theory behind neuromuscular massage is that when a muscle spasms – it is not in the entire muscle, but in a centralized area within the muscle. When blood flow to that area is decreased it may then reverberate to other areas of the muscle, causing pain.
This treatment involves using static pressure focused on a specific area called a trigger point and does not involve massage of the whole body. By applying pressure to the trigger point for several seconds, the lactic acid build-up at the trigger point is dispersed. This relaxes the muscles by increasing the blood flow and oxygen available to them, which releases lactic acid and thus the cause of pain, via the nervous system. Muscle pain and soreness are neutralized by repeated concentrated pressure over the trigger points.
Pregnancy massage is similar to Swedish massage with several positional adjustments. It is used to ease some of the discomforts associated with pregnancy such as swelling in the legs, muscles and joint aches or reduced flexibility and circulation.
The massage is usually carried out with the mother on her side using special pillows to position her body for the greatest comfort. Also known as pre-natal massage, the treatment helps with relaxation, reduces stress and relieves strained back and leg muscles to correct the posture and reduce back strain. Pregnancy massage aids the circulatory and lymphatic systems, which allows healthy blood flow to the mother and her baby.
Aromatherapy massage uses highly concentrated plant oils, known as essential oils, which are added to the massage oil or lotion. This technique combines the natural therapeutic properties of essential oils and the healing power of massage therapy. It can be very effective in relaxing and healing the mind, body and spirit and is often described as a very relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The oils are the most important part of the treatment, chosen for their therapeutic effect, and not just the fragrance to “therapeutically” stimulate the nasal/olfactory senses. These are administered as incense, oil diffusers, or scented oils applied directly to the body, depending on the need.
A full body massage using essential oils utilises different strokes directly related to the desired effect, whether to relieve tension, restore energy, aid relaxation and pain relief or to promote a sense of general well-being.
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