Types of Massage and Bodywork Defined
*Information copied from abmp. For complete list please visit massagetherapy.com /glossary
Known as seated massage, chair massage, or on-site massage, this technique involves the use of a specially designed massage chair in which the client sits comfortably. The modern chair massage was originally developed David Palmer, but the technique is centuries-old, with some Japanese block prints illustrating people having just emerged from a nearby bath, receiving massage while seated on a low stool. Seated massage includes bodywork and somatic techniques, such as shiatsu, amma, and Swedish massage, provided to the fully clothed client in a variety of settings, including businesses, airports, and street fairs.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Techniques that utilize deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. These techniques require advanced training and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the practitioner from reaching deeper musculature. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis. It is generally integrated with other massage techniques.
Although ancient Greece and Rome both adopted the beliefs that water had healing properties, it was the Romans to first integrate hydrotherapy into their social life, building temples and baths near natural springs. Father Sebastian Kneipp from Worshofen, Bavaria, however, was the true father of modern-day hydrotherapy in Germany. Various hydrotherapy massage techniques exist and are generally utilized by massage/bodywork practitioners, physical therapists, physicians, and spa technicians. These include underwater massage, herbal baths, thalassotherapy, Kneipp therapy, Vichy treatments, Scotch hoses, and Swiss showers.
This practice indicates a combination of various massage, bodywork, and somatic therapy techniques utilized by a practitioner in the course of a session.
Integrated massage is condition specific, for people who have chronic or recurring muscular issues. The session is focused on the muscles causing the discomfort and uses a combination of various massage, bodywork, and somatic therapy techniques utilized by a practitioner in the course of a sessio. Client participation is required for some of the techniques used.
JIN SHIN JYUTSU
Jin Shin Jyutsu physio-philosophy is an ancient art of harmonizing the life energy in the body. Born of innate wisdom and passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth, the art had fallen into relative obscurity when it was revived in the early 1900s by Master Jiro Murai in Japan. After clearing himself of life-threatening illness, Master Murai devoted the rest of his life to the research and development of Jin Shin Jyutsu, gathering insight from a range of experiences and resources including the Kojiki (Record of Ancient Things). The resulting knowledge of Jin Shin Jyutsu was then given to Mary Burmeister who brought it to the United States in the 1950s. Burmeister began teaching the art of Jin Shin Jyutsu to others in the early 1960s and today there are thousands of students and practitioners around the world. Jin Shin Jyutsu brings balance to the body’s energies, which promotes optimal health and well-being and facilitates a profound healing capacity. It is a valuable complement to conventional healing methods, inducing relaxation and reducing the effects of stress. Jin Shin Jyutsu employs twenty-six “safety energy locks” along energy pathways that feed life into our bodies. When one or more of the paths becomes blocked, the resulting stagnation can disrupt the local area and eventually disharmonize the complete path of energy flow. Holding these energy locks in combination can bring balance to mind, body, and spirit. Jin Shin Jyutsu can be applied as self-help and also by a trained practitioner. A Jin Shin Jyutsu session generally lasts about one hour. It does not involve massage, manipulation of muscles, or use of drugs or substances. It is a gentle art, practiced by placing the fingertips (over clothing) on designated safety energy locks, to harmonize and restore the energy flow. This facilitates the reduction of tension and stress that accumulate through normal daily living.
MASSAGE & MASSAGE THERAPY
Massage or massage therapy are systems of structured palpation or movement of the soft tissue of the body. The massage system may include, but is not limited to, such techniques as, stroking, kneading, gliding, percussion, friction, vibration, compression, passive or active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement; effleurage (either firm or light soothing, stroking movement, without dragging the skin, using either padded parts of fingertips or palms); petrissage (lifting or picking up muscles and rolling the folds of skin); or tapotement (striking with the side of the hand, usually with partly flexed fingers, rhythmic movements with fingers or short rapid movements of sides of the hand). These techniques may be applied with or without the aid of lubricants, salt or herbal preparations, hydromassage, thermal massage or a massage device that mimics or enhances the actions possible by human hands. The purpose of the practice of massage is to enhance the general health and well-being of the recipient. Massage does not include the diagnosis of a specific pathology, the prescription of drugs or controlled substances, spinal manipulation or those acts of physical therapy that are outside the scope of massage therapy.
MUSCLE ENERGY TECHNIQUE
Muscle energy is a direct, noninvasive manual therapy used to normalize joint dysfunction and increase range of motion. The practitioner evaluates the primary areas of dysfunction in order to place the affected joints in precise positions that enable the client to perform gentle isometric contractions. These directed movements help correct neuromuscular and joint difficulties.
MUSCLE RELEASE TECHNIQUE/BODY MOBILIZATION TTECHNIQUE
This technique combines compression, extension, movement, and breath to give therapists a tool to provide relief from pain, treating such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic low back pain, plantar fasciitis, sciatica, tennis elbow, knee pain, shin splints, frozen shoulder, hammer toes, piriformis syndrome, tendinitis, trigger finger, and much more.
Muscle testing involves finding a muscle that is unbalanced and then attempting todetermine why that muscle is not functioning properly. Treatments may involve specific joint manipulation or mobilization, various myofascial therapies, cranial techniques, meridian and acupuncture skills, clinical nutrition, dietary management, counselling skills, evaluating environmental irritants, and various reflex procedures. The object is to test the function of a single muscle in the best possible manner. (Adapted from www.icak.com.)
Myofascial release is the three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions and facilitate the emergence of emotional patterns and belief systems that are no longer relevant or are impeding progress. First, an assessment is made by visually analyzing the human frame, followed by the palpation of the tissue texture of various fascial layers. Upon locating an area of fascial tension, gentle pressure is applied in the direction of the restriction. Myofascial release is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches.
MYOFASCIAL TRIGGER POINT THERAPY
Based on the discoveries of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons in which they found the causal relationship between chronic pain and its source, myofascial trigger point therapy is used to relieve muscular pain and dysfunction through applied pressure to trigger points of referred pain and through stretching exercises. These points are defined as localized areas in which the muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure on these points can send referred pain to other specific parts of the body.
This comprehensive program of soft-tissue manipulation balances the body’s central nervous system with the musculoskeletal system. Based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system initiates and maintains pain, the goal is to help relieve the pain and dysfunction by understanding and alleviating the underlying cause. Neuromuscular therapy can help individuals who experience distortion and biomechanical dysfunction, which is often a symptom of a deeper problem. It is also used to locate and release spasms and hypercontraction in the tissue, eliminate trigger points that cause referred pain, rebuild the strength of injured tissues, assist venous and lymphatic flow, and restore postural alignment, proper biomechanics, and flexibility to the tissues.
Performed by a trained perinatal specialist, many methods of massage and somatic therapies are both effective and safe prenatally and during labor and postpartum periods of women’s pregnancies. Prenatally, specific techniques can reduce pregnancy discomforts and concerns and enhance the physiological and emotional well-being of both mother and fetus. Skilled, appropriate touch facilitates labor, shortening labor times and easing pain and anxiety. In the postpartum period, specialized techniques rebalance structure, physiology, and emotions of the new mother and may help her to bond with and care for her infant. Specialized, advanced training in the anatomy, physiology, complications, precautions, and contraindications is highly recommended, and many practitioners require referrals from physicians prior to therapy.
Based on an ancient Chinese therapy, reflexology involves manipulation of specific reflex areas in the foot, hands, and ears that correspond to other parts of the body. Sometimes referred to as zone therapy, this bodywork involves application of pressure to these reflex zones to stimulate body organs and relieve areas of congestion. Similar to acupressure principles, reflexology works with the body’s energy flow to stimulate self-healing and maintain balance in physical function. This technique is used to reduce pain, increase relaxation, and stimulate circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids. It is especially useful in stress-related illness and emotional disorders. Reflexology is also convenient in cases where an area of the body is traumatized or diseased to the extent that direct manipulation is not appropriate.
Performed primarily for post-injury, post-surgery, chronic conditions or reoccurring injuries due to repetitive movements, the focus of this massage is to identify the muscles and movements responsible for the condition, normalize the dysfunction, improve flexibility, restore proper movement, and strengthen and condition muscles. This modality utilizes a wide range of techniques that are muscle specific
REIKI HEALING--USUI SYSTEM
Reiki healing is a hands-on energy healing art. It was originated in Japan in the early 20th century by Mikao Usui, who had a life-changing experience of light and energy that he recognized as reiki--sacred life force--and that awakened his innate healing abilities. He developed a system of practices that enabled others to become effective healers. In a reiki healing session, the practitioner, trained to access and serve as a channel for the life force (ki or chi), places her hands on or just above the client’s body in order to activate healing energy within receptive points on the body. The practitioner’s hands move progressively with a passive touch through twelve positions on the body, remaining in each position for three to five minutes. As a harmonic flow of energy is strengthened, within the client and practitioner, healing occurs through the return of physical, mental, and spiritual balance.
A variety of body treatments administered in spas. Herbal wraps, loofah body scrubs, parafango, salt scrubs, seaweed body wraps, hydrotherapy treatments, etc.
Sports massage is designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery. There are three contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, and injury treatment. Pre-event massage is delivered at the performance site, usually with the athlete fully clothed. Fast-paced and stimulating, it helps to establish blood flow and to warm up muscles. During the massage, the athlete generally focuses on visualizing the upcoming event. Post-event massage is also delivered on site, through the clothes. The intent here is to calm the nervous system and begin the process of flushing toxins and waste products out of the body. Post-event massage can reduce recovery time, enabling an athlete to resume training much sooner than rest alone would allow. When an athlete sustains an injury, skillful massage therapy can often speed and improve the quality of healing.
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. Therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping movements, with the application of oil, to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury, relaxation, stress reduction and improve quality of sleep.
T'AI CHI CHUAN
T’ai chi chuan is an ancient Chinese martial and healing art. Most obviously characterized by the slow motion manner in which its choreographed movement patterns are carried out, t’ai chi chuan is more accurately defined by its attention to correct body alignment and structural detail. T’ai chi chuan practitioners move slowly and with a minimum of overt muscular effort, opting to rely instead on exact positioning of the body’s structural components to facilitate the transfer of force through the body. This efficient transfer of force reduces stress on both the body and mind. T’ai chi chuan principles apply globally to walking, martial application, bodywork, or any other activity for which economy of motion and efficiency of effort desired. With time and practice, the progression of t'ai chi chuan movements becomes a moving meditation. You will move effortlessly without thought, yet have a clear, focused, relaxed mind.
Also called nuad bo rarn, Thai massage has been taught and practiced in Thailand for approximately twenty-five hundred years. Although the origins are somewhat vague, credit for Thai massage is given to a famous Indian doctor, Shivago Komarpaj, who was the personal physician of the Buddha and Magadha king. Historically, manipulation was one of four major branches composing traditional Thai ceremonies or magical practices. This is based on the theory the body is made up of seventy-two thousand sen, or energy lines, of which ten hold top priority. Thai massage also involves peripheral stimulating, meaning it acts as an external stimulant to produce specific internal effects. This point serves as the main division between Thai and Western massage. Thai massage is practiced on a firm mat on the floor instead of on a table, instrumental in the effective use of the practitioner’s body weight. The pressure can vary from light to firm but lends it self well to deeper pressure. Except for the feet, the client remains fully clothed, so draping is not necessary.Thai massage can addresses the whole body or be focused on one or two specific areas. The therapist massages while moving the client through a sequence of stretching positions. Thai massage is very relaxing, minimal client participation required.