The oldest of the "hands on" therapies, from which every other branch of
physical therapy has evolved, massage probably first developed out of out
instinctive response to soothe aches and pains by rubbing the affected area.
Massage therapy can be divided into two main categories. The first is the
holistic or "intuitive" form of massage, which aims to treat the whole person.
it tends to be slower, more rhythmical and
a greater emphasis on the tactile communication between the therapist and the
person who is being massaged. One example of the holistic approach can be found
in traditional Indonesian massage with aromatic oils. The second type of massage
is more Western in character and concentrates on treating specific conditions or
parts of the body. The Swedish massage system, which was first developed in the
early 19th century by the Scandinavian practitioner Professor Peter Henrik Ling,
is one example. Another example is Hellerwork, which is an intense form of
massage that is designed to
improve posture; this technique also has a strong psychological dimension.
Some Benefits Of Massage:
The following are
some of the beneficial results that you can receive from massage
circulation- Increase blood circulation and the flow of tissue
- Stimulate breathing Assist the flow of nutrients & oxygen to
heart and pulse rate
body systems Hasten excretion or waste products
skin (with the right oils) Promote nourishment, repair and
renewal of body cells
removal of deposits of tissue
activity in skin and its glands
tone Induce muscle tone
in certain conditions
Relax mind and
feeling of well-being.
THE HANDS-THE TOOLS OF THERAPY
The "flat" of the fingers and the finger tips are used in light, sensuous
strokes such as feathering and can work at a deeper level too, as in petrissage.
The strength and size of the thumbs make them ideal for working on small areas
of tense tissue. The thumbs are also involved in grasping strokes, such as
The palms are used in gentle stroking and gliding movements, such as effleurage,
and to grasp and hold various areas of the body.
of the hand This part of the hand helps in stretching and manipulating
tissue. The heel can also be useful for working on deeper tissue levels.
THE BEST TECHNIQUE FOR YOU
The type of massage therapy that is best for you depends, to a great extent,
on what you want from it. If your are looking for relaxation and a release from
stress, the more gentle, holistic forms of massage are likely to be appropriate.
If you have a musculoskeletal injury or postural problem, the Swedish approach
or a sports massage would probably be of greater benefit. However, many massage
practitioners can offer either approach.
It is important that you feel a rapport with your massage therapist. If not, it
is unlikely that you will relax enough to enjoy the experience.
WHEN TO AVOID MASSAGE
If you have any doubts about the state of your health and whether you will
benefit from massage, you should, of course, consult your doctor. Massage for
people with cancer or serious psychiatric illness requires particular expertise
and, in many cases, could be inadvisable. Professional advice is important if
you are pregnant or if
you have any of the conditions listed below:
HIV or AIDS
skin infections, inflammations, bruising or recent scar tissue
varicose veins, phlebitis or thrombosis
undiagnosed lumps or bumps.
THE DIFFERENT STROKES
Massage uses a variety of strokes. Some therapists like to start with the
back and work from head to toe before doing the same on your front. Others work
from the extremities towards the heart. The massage therapist may use a pure
vegetable oil or baby oil to help his hands slide over your skin, enabling the
strokes to be performed more smoothly.
THE DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES
This technique uses the flat of the hand in long, slow, flowing strokes. It is a
relaxing stroke, which can be used at any time in the massage and after all
A type of friction stroke, knuckling is performed with the hand curled into a
loose first, moving in small circling strokes. It is often used on the shoulders
A stimulating and invigorating action in which both hands alternately grasp and
release the flesh, kneading aids the elimination of wastes, improves the
elasticity of connective tissues and helps break down fatty tissue. It is used
on soft, well-padded areas such as at the waist, the thighs and the bottom.
rolling This technique involves kneading the flesh to stimulate the
circulation. Using the thumbs and index fingers, the skin a picked up, rolled
This percussion technique involves rapidly and vigorously striking a part of the
body with the sides of the hands to increase circulation and tone up muscles.
The fingers should be relaxed. These strokes are energizing instead of relaxing.
Hacking should not be used on bony areas or on broken veins or bruises.
A type of percussion stroke, cupping is performed with the hands - as the name
suggests - in a cup shape. The hands are alternately moved up and down rapidly,
with the fingertips and the heel of the hand contacting the skin. The stroke is
suitable for a fleshy area without broken veins of bruises.
Regular massage can have the effect of strengthening and toning the entire body
mechanism, and so help to prevent unnecessary strains and injuries that might
otherwise occur due to excess tension and any resulting structural weaknesses.
Massage can stimulate or calm the nervous system-depending upon what is required
by the individual-and thus help reduce fatigue, leaving the receiver with a
feeling of replenished energy. At its best, massage has the potential to restore
the individual physically, mentally and spiritually.
Dated 09 July 2009