One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a 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. 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, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury.
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.
*Important note about deep pressure: The "no pain, no gain" attitude NEVER applies to any form of massage therapy. If the work hurts, it should "hurt so good", as opposed to being painful, which causes you to tighten other areas of the body to deal with the pain. A massage can be deep while still inciting the inhibition response of the nervous system, the response that relaxes the area being worked on and allows the therapist to melt into the tissue. Going too deep will cause the motor response to kick in, which guards the body from the pain making it impossible to relax the tissue, and will usually cause the body the release endorphins to deal with the pain, and possibly bruising the tissue.
Trigger point therapy is also known as Myotherapy or Neuromuscular Therapy and applies concentrated finger pressure to "trigger points" (painful irritated areas in muscles) to break cycles of spasm and pain. It appears that most muscular pains have a trigger point that causes the muscle to go into spasms. Trigger Point Therapy involves placing pressure on that trigger point so that the muscle can relax and the pain can be lessened. Pressure is generally applied with fingers, knuckles, and elbows. This form of therapy is often followed by stretching the muscles. The basic idea is that the trigger point which is the source of the pain is not always where the patient feels the pain. The trigger point could be several inches away from the place where they feel the discomfort or pain. It is said that by applying pressure to the actual point of the source the practitioner in turn may be able to control the pain experienced.
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.
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.
Myofascial Release is a form of bodywork that is manipulative in nature and seeks to rebalance the body by releasing tension in the fascia. Long, stretching strokes are utilized to release muscular tension. Myofascial Release is a manual therapy technique that is utilized to help relieve pain and tension that is due to injury or stress. It involves releasing and unwinding the fascia (connective tissue) that surrounds each muscle and interconnects all of the other internal parts of the body. This tissue layer, which connects every muscle, tendon, ligament, bone, and organ in our bodies, can store memories of physical trauma. Releasing these restrictions allows us to discharge recurring emotional as well as physical pain. Sessions can include craniosacral work, stretching techniques, and deep touch.
Myoskeletal Alignment Techniques
This therapy was designed by Dr. Erik Dalton as a tool to help relieve the neck and back pain epidemic. By incorporating deep tissue, joint stretching, fascial mobilization, as well as muscle balancing techniques, the therapist is able to identify and correct dysfunctional strain patterns before they become pain patterns. Tight, stressed muscles contribute to pain by eliminating the freedom of movement while weak muscles provide inadequate support for the body. This leads to postural problems, stiffness and other symptoms creating a cycle of pain. By addressing the fundamental issues in the fascia and muscle, the practitioner hopes to reduce symptoms, thereby eliminating postural problems. The idea behind all of this is that if someone's body can be aligned properly, his or her health problems can be dramatically reduced, because the body will work as a whole.
This training is based on the concepts of Orthopedic Medicine pioneered by James Cyriax, M.D. and developed by Milne Ongley, M.D. and Ben Benjamin Ph.D. Their contribution has been to integrate the soft-tissue protocols with an understanding of friction therapy to isolate and treat muscle, tendon and ligmanet injuries. When microscopic tears occur in muscles, tendons, and ligaments, scar tissue- a type of connective tissue- forms to mend the damaged structures. It often does this in an indiscriminate fashion, so the original scar has much less integrity and uniformity of structure than the original tissue it replaces. Cross-fiber friction massage works by breaking down scar tissue that prevents healing within muscles, tendons, and ligaments.