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Massage is the practice of applying structured or unstructured pressure, tension, motion, or vibration — manually or with mechanical aids — to the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, joints and lymphatic vessels, to achieve a beneficial response. A form of therapy, massage can be applied to parts of the body or successively to the whole body, to aid the process of injury healing, relieve psychological stress, manage pain, and improve circulation. Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be termed "therapeutic massage" or manipulative therapy.
Massage can also be a part of lovemaking (see erotic massage, tantramassage), and often takes place in the context of sex work. As massage is a regulated industry where in most states in the US, Massage Therapists are required to obtain hundreds of hours of training, a detailed background check as well as a professional license from the government to perform massage. Clients are advised to get references, ask questions and judge for themselves. If you are looking to have a professional massage, verify that your Therapist is licensed and not a Masseuse or Masseur, as those who use Erotic massage for commercial means are typically referred to as a Masseuse, if they are female, and Masseur, if they are male. Also note that these terms have been widely misused to label Massage Therapists who use massage for purely Therapeutic and Professional means.
In commercial settings, massage techniques involve the client being treated lying down on a massage table or in a massage chair, or on a mattress on the floor. Except for modalities such as Thai Massage or Barefoot Deep Tissue, the massage subject is generally unclothed, and the body may be "draped" with towels or sheets. This also helps keep the client warm. In some jurisdictions it is required that certain areas such as the genitals on both genders and the breast/nipple area on women be draped at all times. In many forms of massage, the treatment may start with the client face up or down for the first part of the session: the client then rolls over for the second half of the session. Relaxation is necessary for benefits to be achieved.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
- 1 Massage Basics
- 2 Types of massage
- 2.1 Barefoot Deep Tissue
- 2.2 Bowen therapy
- 2.3 Breema
- 2.4 Chair massage
- 2.5 Chinese Tui Na massage (推拿)
- 2.6 Chinese Zhi Ya massage (指壓)
- 2.7 Deep muscle therapy
- 2.8 Deep tissue massage
- 2.9 Effleurage
- 2.10 Erotic massage
- 2.11 Esalen Massage
- 2.12 Foot or sole massage
- 2.13 Lomilomi — Traditional Hawaiian Massage
- 2.14 MA-URI massage
- 2.15 Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
- 2.16 Myofascial Release
- 2.17 Myoskeletal alignment technique
- 2.18 Neuromuscular therapy
- 2.19 Petrissage
- 2.20 Scalp massage
- 2.21 Shantala massage
- 2.22 Shiatsu (指圧)
- 2.23 Soft Tissue Therapy
- 2.24 Stone massage
- 2.25 Structural muscular balancing
- 2.26 Swedish massage
- 2.27 Tai Ji Massage (Tai Chi Massage)
- 2.28 Tantramassage (Tantric massage)
- 2.29 Thai massage
- 2.30 Trigger point therapy
- 3 Massage therapist organizations
- 4 See also
Good communication is essential to effective massage. In a commercial setting, the client is encouraged to communicate the type of treatment expected, for example relaxation or pain relief, full body massage, avoidance of, or focus on a specific area, the amount of pressure that is comfortable, preferred techniques, & past medical history & current physical condition....
Types of massage
There are well over 150 types of massage therapy. Various styles of massage have developed from a number of sources.
Barefoot Deep Tissue
Barefoot Deep Tissue is a blend of Eastern barefoot techniques with Western manual medicine. Clients are typically loosely clothed and lain on floor mat in supine, prone and side-lying positions with pillows or bolsters. No oil is used. Sessions may last 2 minutes or well over an hour. Because the therapist can apply a broad range of pressure with ease and does not have to strain, more effort and concentration can be used to sense and manipulate tissue, release fascia, as well as search for and attack trigger points and other problems, regardless of client's size or build. John Harris, the proceleusmatic mentor who worked in the 1984 Olympics and developed this modality, states that the combination offers a potent new tool for powerfully satisfying, effective deep tissue massage and Trigger Point work regardless of client's size or build. Mr. Harris and Fred Kenyon wrote Fix Pain in 2002, and have been hired by Human Kinetics to write a trade publication with DVD for elite athletes.
- For more details on this topic, see Bowen Technique.
Bowen Technique involves a rolling type movement over fascia, muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints.
- For more details on this topic, see Breema.
Breema bodywork is performed on the floor with the recipient fully clothed. It consists of rhythmical and gentle leans and stretches which leads to deep relaxation, increased vitality, and stimulation of the self-healing processes of the body. Sessions can be any length of time, although 50 minutes is common. There are also self-Breema exercises. The essence of Breema is expressed in the Nine Principles of Harmony. The Breema Center is located in Oakland, California, and there are Breema practitioners and instructors in many locations around the world.
Chair massage, also known as corporate massage, is by far the most convenient method of massage therapy. A chair massage session typically lasts 12-24 minutes, and is performed while fully clothed. Chair massage promotes better circulation, muscle stimulation and stress relief. This form of massage reduces tension in the back, neck, shoulders, head, arms, hands, legs or feet, providing a deep relaxation effect.
Chair massages are also advantageous because chair massage practitioners will frequently make work- or housecalls. Chair massage can also be done in hotels, airports and convention centers. Certain chairs, invented for this specific purpose, massage the seated person robotically by means of motors which have been inserted within the body of the chair.
Chinese Tui Na massage (推拿)
- For more details on this topic, see Tui Na.
Tui Na is a form of Chinese massage (按摩) that is similar to Zhi Ya, but focusing more on pushing, stretching and kneading the muscle.
Chinese Zhi Ya massage (指壓)
- For more details on this topic, see Zhi Ya.
Zhi Ya is a form of Chinese massage based on acupressure. It is similar to Tui Na massage except it focuses more on pinching and pressing at acupressure points.
Deep muscle therapy
Deep muscle therapy (created by Therese Pfrimmer), is a massage technique that focuses on using a very specific set of movements applied to all muscles and concentrating on all layers of the muscle that have become depleted of their regular blood and lymphatic flow. This technique aims to restore the circulation with its healing properties to the cellular level. Deep muscle therapy is widely used to treat the following ailments: carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back pain, headaches, poor circulation, whiplash, and more.
Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue techniques are generally designed for more focused massage work. Working a specific joint, muscle or muscle group, the practitioner can access deeper layers of the soft tissue. Starting superficially and easing into the depth of the muscle slowly often allows more movement. This is the recommended approach in this modality since each person experiences pressure differently. If the pressure is applied too deeply or too quickly, the muscle may tighten to protect that area, and unnecessary damage or inflammation can be induced. Very little lubricant is used as the pressure doesn't travel much over the skin.
The most commonly used 'tools' during deep tissue massage may include, 3 and 6 fingers, reinforced fingers, a flat elbow, opposing thumbs, the heel of the hand or foot, and the forearm. See also: Myofascial Release
Effleurage (from the French effleurer, 'to skim over') consists of long, flowing or gliding strokes, performed with open hands. In many massage sessions, effleurage is used as the initial type of stroking, as it has a calming effect when performed slowly. Effleurage is usually performed in the direction of the heart to promote circulation and lymphatic drainage.
- For more details on this topic, see Erotic massage.
Erotic massage is a form of massage that includes the genitals and leads to sexual arousal and (sometimes) orgasm. Widely practiced by couples as part of lovemaking. Also sometimes practiced commercially, which may be illegal in some jurisdictions. See also Tantramassage.
Those who use Erotic massage for commercial means are typically referred to as a Masseuse, if they are female, and Masseur, if they are male. These terms have been widely misused to label others who use massage for purely Therapeutic and Professional means. These people are titled Massage Therapists and are required to obtain hundreds of hours of training, a detailed background check as well as a professional license from the government to perform massage.
If you are looking to have a professional massage, verify that your Therapist is licensed and not a Masseuse or Masseur.
- For more details on this topic, see Esalen Massage.
The basis of Esalen Massage is traditional massage, which works in a very precise manner on the muscle and circulation systems. This is combined with the bodywork approach developed by Charlotte Selver, which emphasizes the deeply relaxing and emotional responses of the body when a conscious, structured and pleasant touch is applied. In addition, gentle rocking of the body, passive joint exercises and deep structural work on the muscles and joints, together with an energetic balancing of the body, are all part of this Esalen Massage “experience”. See also Esalen Massage.
Foot or sole massage
- For more details on this topic, see Reflexology.
Foot massage, as practiced by the Chinese is performed in the context of chi, in that each spot on the sole of the foot corresponds to an internal organ, and the applied therapy is healing to one's overall well being. The theory supposes that an ailment of an internal organ will be associated with the nerve ending on the sole of the foot.
Before the massage, the patient's feet are bared and then soaked for about ten minutes in a foot bath, typically a dark colored solution of hot water and Chinese herbs. The massage therapist uses liberal amounts of medicated cream, to moisturize the foot and to provide lubrication. The knuckles on the therapist's hand are usually used to provide a hard and smooth implement for the massage. As pressure is applied to the sole, theory holds that a healthy patient should not feel any strong pain. Painful spots, reflexologists believe, reflect illnesses of other parts of the body. The practitioner rubs and massages the painful spots to break down rough spots and accumulated crystals and increase circulation.
The ailments are healed when the sore spots of the sole are treated and removed by massage. Based on this theory, some shoe liners are made with pressure points to stimulate the soles of the feet to promote better health of the overall body. The nature of these "crystals" has yet to be elucidated or demonstrated scientifically. Regardless of the actual correlation of reflexology to internal organs, many enjoy it for the mix of stimulation and relaxation.
Lomilomi — Traditional Hawaiian Massage
- For more details on this topic, see Lomilomi massage.
Lomilomi massage is an ancient art from the Hawaiian healing specialists. They were taught their art over 20 years and received their last instructions from their master on his death bed. There are hundreds of styles of Lomilomi, the main ones being the style of Big Island which was passed on by Aunty Margaret Machado, and Maui style from Uncle Kalua Kaiahua. On the island of Kaua'i, Kahu Abraham passed on what is today called Kahuna Bodywork. It is not clear if other current practices - temple style, lomi lomi nui and others - are from Native Hawaiian practitioners or are modern adaptations.
MA-URI is a new form of massage introduced by Hemi Hoani Fox in 1990, who cites as its roots Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi Nui dance, claiming increased so-called energy flow within the body and mind. Focus is internal, upon breathing, intent, and concentration. Claimed benefits include mental and physical health. Study and advocation is primarily carried out at the MA-URI Institute, headed by Hemi and Katja Fox. It is currently difficult to find practitioners, though this may change as it grows more popular.
Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
Reciprocal Inhibition (RI) is when the therapist uses a client’s muscle to stretch the opposing muscle. The therapist takes the muscle that they are wishing to stretch to its point of bind. The therapist then gets the client to use the opposing muscle by moving away from the therapist. When the client relaxes the therapist then moves the muscle to realign the muscle fibres therefore stretching the muscle.
As an example, Muscle Energy Technique (MET) Reciprocal Inhibition (RI) can be applied to the calf when the client is lying supine on the treatment couch. The masseur can place one hand on the tibia just below the knee to isolate the knee preventing it from moving. The other hand is placed around the heel so that the masseurs forearm can be used to dorsiflex the foot. This is one of the techniques used by sports massage therapists.
- For more details on this topic, see Myofascial Release.
Myofascial Release refers to the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia and integument, muscles, and bones, with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and balancing the body. Injuries, stress, trauma, overuse and poor posture can cause restriction to fascia. Myofascial release frees fascial restrictions, and allow the muscles to move efficiently. This is usually done by applying shear, compression or tension in various directions, or by skin rolling. This is one of the techniques used by sports massage therapists and physical therapists. Myofascial release originators come from Physical Therapy and from Structural Integration (Rolfing); its current developers include John Barnes PT from a Physical Therapy background, and from a Rolfing or Structural Integration background, Art Riggs, Michael Stanborough, Tom Myers, Til Luchau, and others.
Myoskeletal alignment technique
Myoskeletal Alignment Technique (MAT) identifies postural distortions to improve and prevent pain conditions. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) and myofacial techniques are used to lengthen tight/facilitated muscles while fiber activation techniques tone weak/inhibited muscles. MAT was developed by Erik Dalton.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is used for pain relief and specific problems. Structural and postural imbalances are identified through an initial postural assessment. These are then addressed through systematic and site specific massage. NMT reduces pain, tension, postural imbalance, and lengthens and strengthens tissues. NMT was developed by Paul St. John.
Petrissage (from the French petrir, 'to knead') is one of the five basic strokes of a Swedish massage. It is performed with kneading movement with the whole palm or finger tips, wringing, skin rolling, compress and lifting. Petrissage is usually applied vertically to the muscle tissue.
The benefits include the warming of tissue for deeper work, increase circulation, increase the supply of nutrients and oxygen to muscle, softens superficial fascia, decreases muscle tension, and restoring mobility by decreasing adhesion.
In some barber shops in Hong Kong, scalp massage often lasts 30 minutes to 45 minutes during shampooing of the hair. It is also very common in India, after applying oil on the hair.
Shantala massage is an ancient Indian massage technique with a rhythmic character, given to massage babies and children. It was introduced into Western society by Dr. Frederique Leboyer, the renowned French obstetrician, in a book "Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage".
- For more details on this topic, see Shiatsu.
Shiatsu is a form of Japanese massage that uses thumb pressure and workes along the energy meridians in the body also with a lot of streches the same meridians as acupressure. You are worked on fully clothed on a mat on the floor. It is uncertain whether it originated from Chinese Zhi Ya.
Soft Tissue Therapy
- For more details on this topic, see Soft Tissue Therapy.
The Assessment, Treatment and Management of Soft Tissue Injury, Pain and Dysfunction. Treatment techniques include:
- Trigger point therapy for the alleviation of trigger points.
- Myofascial (muscle and fascia) therapy for flexibility/mobility of the connective tissues of our body, or for alleviating fibrous adhesions and decreasing the severity of scars.
- Broad handed techniques for reducing swelling or inflammation
- Frictions for the ridding of adhesions between fascial layers, muscles, compartments and the like. Frictions also promote healing in tendon pathologies as well as decreasing pain perception.
- Sustained pressure (digital pressures) to alleviate hypertonic (tight)areas within muscle and fascia
- Other techniques such as Active Release Therapies, Myofascial Release and deep tissue massage are all derivatives of the techniques above. They are NOT unique techniques with unique results.
- Stretching - static, dynamic, and/or PNF stretches (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation)
- Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
- Exercise Prescription
This is one of the techniques used by sports massage therapists.
Massage in which hot or cold stones, usually basalt or marble, are used to massage the body. Often the stones are placed on key energy points, such as Chakras or meridians, in order to improve energy flow and healing.
Structural muscular balancing
A gentle and effective technique that releases chronic contraction in the muscles. The nervous system is triggered to release contractions through compression applied to muscles placed in a shortened position.
This style utilizes long, flowing strokes, often but not necessarily in the direction of the heart. Swedish massage is designed to increase circulation and blood flow. There are six basic strokes: effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, compression and vibration. Oil, cream, or lotion is applied on the skin to reduce friction and allow smooth strokes. This style of massage is generally attributed to the Swedish fencing master and gymnastics teacher Pehr Henrik Ling (1776-1839). However, it was in fact the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909) who adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes under which he systemized massage as we know it today, as Swedish or classic massage. Somehow, the term Swedish Movement System was transposed to Swedish Massage System sometime during the second half of the 19th century. Ling’s system was the Swedish Movement System or Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. This may be how he has become incorrectly associated for so long with Swedish massage (see ). In Sweden, the term "Swedish massage" is not used.
Tai Ji Massage (Tai Chi Massage)
- For more details on this topic, see Tai Ji Massage.
Tai Ji Massage
Tai Ji / Tai Chi Massage is massage using the natural principles of Tai Ji, Yin and Yang to achieve balance in the energies of the body, leading to a healthy mind body and spirit.
Tai Ji / Tai Chi The traditional Chinese term refers to the Dao, which is the inexpressible oneness and connectedness of all things. This is inexpressibility of Tao is referred to by Lao Tzu:
- Chapter 32
- "The Tao is constantly nameless….
- As soon as we start to establish a system we have names.
- And as soon as there set names,
- Then you must also know that it's time to stop"
- Te Tao Ching
- Translation by Robert G. Hendricks. Ballantine books 1989
Qi/ Chi: This is the linking element material and spiritual (Jing and Shen), or in health terms mind and body.
Chinese medicine is often able to treat sicknesses and problems which are difficult to treat by western medicine by virtue of the fact that they consider the state of the Chi to be an important factor in diagnosis.
Qi Field theory: Qi appears as a field. In order for a sickness to become chronic an integral Qi field establishes itself in the body of the host. The shape and size of this field is variable and can stretch from head to toes in some cases.
Tai Ji Massage Qi Diagnosis: Tai Ji Massage is a Qi treatment and it makes a treatment in terms of Qi. The master practitioner can sense the Qi blockages inside the body and the relationship which they have to each other.
Qi blockages can be a way of getting insight into causes of chronic sicknesses, recurring sicknesses, psychosomatic sicknesses, future sicknesses.
The main use of this techniques is, relaxation and self-exploration, and in a therapeutic way, funtional organ problems, chronic sicknesses and psychosomatic sicknesses.
Tai Ji Massage was developed by Richard Wickes, Li Cun De.
Tantramassage (Tantric massage)
- For more details on this topic, see Tantramassage.
Original Tantramassage is a new form of massage developed in the early 1980s by Andro, Andreas Rothe an experienced Tantra and Bodywork Teacher in Berlin / Germany. The method includes various massage techniques, elements from Bioenergetic, Yoga and Sexualtherapy. The word "Tantra" emphasizes the connection with the old Indian cultural background where the body is seen as the temple of the soul. Clients are in a passive role, supported by breathing techniques they experience a very deep and intense journey through their own body. Every Massage session lasts 90 Minutes or longer. The Tantramassage movement is very popular in Germany and Switzerland, some practitioners are organized in the Association of Tantramassage in Germany.
- For more details on this topic, see Nuat phaen boran.
Known in Thailand as นวดแผนโบราณ (Nuat phaen boran, IPA [nuɑt pʰɛn boraːn]), which correctly translates only as ancient massage or traditional massage, this form of massage is also known as Thai ancient massage, traditional Thai massage, Thai yoga massage, yoga massage, Thai classical massage, Thai bodywork, passive yoga or assisted yoga. It is usually soothing because of its emphasis on stretching and loosening the body. Its roots go back far into history, originating in India based on the Ayurveda, and then becoming popular in ancient Siam, now known as Thailand.
Originating in India and drawing from Ayurveda, it has inevitably incorporated modalities like yoga. The receiver is put into many yoga like positions during the course of the massage. In the northeren style there are a lot of stretching movements unlike the southern style where pressure is emphasised. It was believed that the massage art was brought over to Thailand by Shivago Komarpaj (Jivaka Kumarabhacca), a contemporary of Lord Buddha over 2500 years ago.
The massage recipient changes into loose, comfortable clothes and lies on a mat or firm mattress on the floor. (It can be done solo or in a group of a dozen or so patients in the same large room). The massage practitioner leans on the recipient's body using hands and forearms to apply firm rhythmic pressure to almost every part of the recipient's body. The massage generally follows the Sen lines on the body-somewhat analogous to Chinese Meridians and Indian nadis. In some gestures, legs and feet of the giver are used to fixate the body or limbs of the recipient. In other gestures, hands fixate the body, while the feet do the massaging action. Oil is not used in traditional Thai Massage. A full Thai massage session typically lasts two hours or more, and includes rythmic pressing and stretching of the entire body; this may incluce pulling fingers, toes, ears etc., cracking the knuckles, walking on the recipient's back, arching the recipient's back in a rolling action etc. There is a standard procedure and rhythm to the massage.
Note: The traditional therapeutic practice of Thai massage should not be confused with the sexual service of the same name that is available in some hotels and brothels. Sometimes the traditiona therapeutic Thai Massage, or ancient massage, is referred to as "old lady massage," while the sexual practice, which has nothing to do with therapeutic traditional massage is called "young lady massage."
Trigger point therapy
- For more details on this topic, see trigger point.
A trigger point is an area of a muscle (about 50 cells) that may refer pain sensations to other parts of the body. Trigger Point Therapy applies manual pressure, or CO2 injections, to these points. With the proper pressure, duration and location, immediate release of tension and improved muscular functioning may occur. This therapy has been known to diminish migraine pain, mock sciatica, mock carpal tunnel syndrome and other pain syndromes, and other symptoms that may have been misdiagnosed. This work is based upon the trigger point research and manuals of Dr. Janet Travell, President Kennedy's physician.
Sometimes this work is incorporated into other styles of massage therapy such as neuromuscular therapy (NMT) or even Swedish.
Massage therapist organizations
- The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals (ABMP) an international, for-profit, organization of professional massage therapists and bodyworkers.
- The International Natural Therapists Association (INTA) is a non-profit international association of massage therapists and other natural therapists.
- Association of Massage Therapists ltd
- Association of Remedial Masseurs
- Australian Natural Therapists Association
- Australian Traditional-Medicine Society
- Massage Australia
- The Association of Massage Therapists and Wholistic Practitioners is a national non-profit organization for people who provide massage therapy in Canada. Its members are massage therapists and other touch therapists throughout Canada, though their membership is primarily in Alberta.
- The ACAM American-Canadian Association of Massagetherapists (en) or Association Can-American des Massothérapeutes (fr) is a national not-for-profit association for massage therapists in Canada and the US. Its members are massage therapists and other touch therapists throughout Canada, working to support and promote those therapies.
- The Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance (CMTA) is a national alliance for provincial massage therapy associations in Canada (not individual membership). It consists of various provincial and territorial associations and works to promote and improve the profession.
- The College of Massage Therapists of Ontario (CMTO) regulates the profession of massage therapy in the province of Ontario.
- The Canadian Sports Massage Therapist Association (CSMTA) is the national, not-for-profit association for sports massage therapists working in Canada. It sets standards and provides certification for its members and also promotes the profession.
- The New Brunswick Massotherapy Association (NBMA) is a non-profit professional massage therapy organization with free referral service for the population of the province of New Brunswick. It helps the general public locate Massage Therapists in this province, and provides research done on the effects of Massage Therapy.
- The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is a 501 c (6) non-profit professional organization of massage therapists in the United States.
- The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) is the only national certifying group of massage therapists in the United States. This is the test that professional massage therapists take in the US even if their states don't offer licensure, in an effort to demonstrate their knowledge. Over 34 U.S. states currently use it as a requirement for their state license as well. The certification earned by successful completion of the NCBTMB exam produced by the NCBTMB is NCTMB.
- The Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP) is a professional membership association serving the massage, bodywork, somatic therapy and esthetic professions. Founded in 1987, it is now the largest massage membership association in the United States with 57,000 members. (ABMP)
- The American Organiation for Bodywork Therapies Of Asia (AOBTA) is a professional membership association for practitioners of Asian Bodywork Therapy, including modalities such as shiatsu, acupressure, and tui na.
- The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the national certifying agency for Asian Bodywork Therapy, as well as for acupuncture and Chinese herbalism.
- Day Spa
- Destination Spa
- Metamorphic Technique
- Myofascial Release
- PNF stretching
- Relaxation technique
- Salsa Massage technique (African Massage)
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