As any LMT will tell you, the most requested area to massage is the neck and shoulders. Without a doubt you feel tension or pain there too. Because this is by far the most requested area to receive work I thought it would be helpful to address this issue with a series on neck and shoulder issues, discussing posture and ergonomics, and what we can do to help alleviate some of it. Let’s start out this series by discussing posture. Continue reading
As you may or may not know, the world of massage is constantly growing and gaining new methods of practice. In the world of massage therapy we call these methods “modalities”. A single therapist can practice multiple modalities and use different techniques from each one during a single session. With all the technical words and jargon floating around, some of it gets misinterpreted (i.e. deep tissue massage does not necessarily mean hard pressure). So, how do you know which type of massage is best for you?
Below we will discuss just a few of the more common modalities of massage therapy. If you are interested in more specific modalities please feel free to comment on this post and I will send you links of how to learn more.
When people think of massage this is usually the type of massage they think of. This includes long, sweeping strokes as well as varying pressure and “kneading” motions. Because of the nature of the strokes, this type of massage encourages good circulation of blood and lymph. This type of massage can be very healing and relaxing. What most people consider deep tissue massage is Swedish techniques used with a much firmer pressure.
This type of massage does not necessarily mean there is a great deal of pressure applied. Deep tissue describes how your therapist works with soft tissues. In this case, the therapist will be working deep within the muscle belly; working through fibers to create increased range of motion (flexibility) and decrease muscle spasms.
Deep Tissue Friction
This modality is particularly beneficial for those who have had recent injuries or surgeries. Once an incision or acute inflammation has healed, deep tissue friction may be applied. The objective of DTF is to create a more functional scar by breaking up scar tissue and helping the collagen fibers form in a more organized fashion. By doing this a person can gain greater ease of movement, less visible scars, and increased circulation, which is vital for an area to regain good functionality.
Many women find relief from aches, pains and low back issues with massage during pregnancy. The body goes through many physical and emotional changes during pregnancy and massage can be an immense comfort during the transition into motherhood. Typically, massage is not performed until the 2nd trimester. And, if you have any complicating factors (i.e. diabetes, pre-eclampsia, positive Homan’s sign, etc.) a note is usually required from your OB stating that you are safe to receive massage therapy. This type of massage is able to be modified in many ways to allow for the comfort of mother and baby.
Typically, the client and therapist are both clothed in loose clothing and working on mats on the floor. Thai techniques can also be incorporated into table massage as well though. Thai massage can also be known as a type of assisted yoga with focus on deep stretching and breathing to encourage the flow of “prana” or life energy. Thai massage can be both relaxing and invigorating!
Reflexology is based upon the theory that there are reflexes in the ends of energy channels in the body (i.e. the hands and feet. And sometimes the ears) that have reflexes which correspond to organs within the body. By applying pressure and stimulating these organs reflexology creates balance.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) or Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points are spots within a tight muscle that are tender when pressed and can cause pain in other regions than the area being directly pressed (therapists called this referred pain). There are different types of trigger points that have many different causes (physical, emotional and chemical factors). Neuromuscular techniques can be both gentle and aggressive in treating trigger points, but all encourage the muscle to relax and bring blood back to an area where it was restricted before.
7. You’ve been putting it off for a while now
We drive by little massage therapy shops everyday that remind us about massage but do we ever stop? We always say “I’ll go next week” “When things slow down” “When I go on vacation” etc. etc. But we all know….next week turns into the week after, things don’t ever really slow down, you’re already spending money on vacation and feel guilty spending more money on a massage. Do something GREAT for yourself today. Call a licensed therapist who can address your issues and give you an EXCELLENT massage!
6. Because there’s no time like the present!
As I said above “I’ll go next week” never actually turns into “next week”. So why not stop in today? Sure you have errands to run, lunches to pack, laundry to do, and dinner to make. So does your massage therapist but we’re here for you. One hour out of your day for yourself and your health can make a phenomenal impact on your ability to get things done with more energy and less pain. So, TODAY is YOUR day! Make the most of it!
5. Your stress levels keep rising and you need to rel-a-a-a-a-x!
When your body is stressed it puts stress on your organs and muscles. Your muscles will tighten in a “fight or flight” response, always on the ready. Your organs will either work harder or your digestive system will slow down in order to protect you. Your adrenal glands (on top of your kidneys) will secrete cortisol, which over an extended period of time can cause fatigue or exhaustion. But, good news!! Massage is great at relieving stress and lowering those cortisol levels. (ps – if you want to read more about how, go to the Resources and Research page)
4. Relieve pain!
So many of us deal with pain on a constant basis and believe it will just go away. Sometimes it may but it will usually resurface later. Why not address the issue now? Muscles tension, soreness, headaches, spasms, and carpal tunnel type issues and more can all be addressed with massage. So don’t delay….feel 100%!
3. You need to recover from a multitude of activities!
Whether you just ran your first 5k, your fifth marathon, traveled around the world, or manage a house of kids, we’re ALL involved in activities and even the activities we love can take a toll on our bodies. Massage is a perfect way for your to recover from the things that keep you busy. Whether you need to relieve muscle tension, need reflexology for your feet, want to work on your flexibility/range of motion or feel a little more energized, massage can do ALL of those things for you. Just ask your therapist which modalities they practice and whether they can help you meet your health goals.
So you had a festive weekend or you’re feeling a bit under the weather? Good thing you know about massage and how it can help you detox. 😉 Massage increases circulation not only in the blood vessels but also in the lymphatic system encouraging your body to cleanse and boost immunity. Also, abdominal massage can stimulate your liver and intestines to start working harder to eliminate wastes and toxins.
1. Empowering you to make a bold choice for your health
Every time you do something good for yourself such as eating fresh vegetables, going to yoga, OR getting a massage, you are choosing to make an investment in your current and future health! You are giving yourself the power and responsibility to make the decisions about your health and how you want to feel and how you are going to stay healthy. Massage can help you get there and help empower you if you let it and if you choose it as a part of your health regimen. So schedule yourself to see your massage therapist today!!