By Danielle Fix, Lead Therapist – Gainey
Simply stated, massage is the manual manipulation of muscles, tendons and connective tissues,helping to improve flexibility, circulation and accelerate recovery from injury or strenuous activity. Additionally, massage instigates the release of serotonin and oxytocin – the “happy hormones” that reduce psychological stress and can lower blood pressure, among other benefits.
There are numerous techniques and styles of massage designed to address specific issues, and modalities. Here are few frequently asked questions about the different types of massages and their benefits.
Q: What is Swedish Massage?
A: Swedish Massage is based on Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, known for utilizing a variety of techniques including Effleurage – or long stroking movements; Petrissage, – the wonderful kneading motion; Friction, and Tapotement – or percussive strokes. Swedish massage may be slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, based on personal preference which you and your therapist will discuss.
Q: Is Deep Tissue Massage More Effective?
A: Deep tissue massage involves the manipulation of the deeper layers of muscles, fascia and other supportive tissues that make up muscle and joint connections. Deep tissue doesn’t necessarily infer that the massage will be painful or unpleasant. Rather, deep tissue is a slower and more detailed practice where a therapist may use their knuckles, elbows or forearms to maximize results. The benefits include breaking up scar tissue, and improvement in athletic performance and recovery.
Q: How Does Sports Massage Differ From Other Techniques?
A: Sports massage is an effective way to prevent injury, prepare the body for activity, maintain optimal condition and enhance training. Geared toward people who exercise regularly, sports massage employs firm to deep pressure applied to areas of concern and sometimes assisted with light stretches – not present in other massage modalities. The benefits of include reducing inflammation, increasing flexibility and range of motion.
Q: What is Thai Massage?
A: Thai massage is a series of choreographed compressions, stretches, and pressure point activation. Deeply relaxing and invigorating, Thai massage is a gentle way to increase range of motion. People have referred to it as an “assisted stretch,” while others say it feels like Yoga being done “to” them. The movements involved in Thai massage employ the body’s “energy lines” (similar to those used in acupuncture) to assist in returning the recipient to a more balanced and harmonious state.
Q: What’s the Difference Between Reflexology and a Foot Massage?
A: Reflexology can be very “stimulating” – not what most would call a relaxing foot massage like one you might receive at a spa. Exact, and sometimes deep pressure, is applied to specific points or areas of the feet. This modality stimulates “reflex” points that correspond with different organs and organ systems in the body to provide beneficial effects to the entire body.
Q: Is Hot Stone Massage Effective?
A: Hot stone massage employs specially shaped heated stones (think mini heating pads) placed on different parts of the body for maximum benefit and relaxation. The therapist manipulates muscles with the smooth, basalt stones (used because of their ability to hold and maintain temperature) allowing for a deeper massage with less strokes. Muscle tension melts away as circulation to tissue increases with each pass. Stone massage can also be performed with cold stones to help reduce inflammation. The contrast in temperatures also helps to stimulate the body.
Q: Is Maternity or Prenatal Massage Safe?
A: Using mild pressure over the entire body, maternity or prenatal massage improves lymphatic and blood circulation to help reduce sciatic, back and joint pain. It increases oxygen flow throughout the body to induce restful sleep, while reducing edema, headaches and swelling. Using a pregnancy pillow, therapists are trained to position the body to allow an expectant mother to lay on her stomach safely and comfortably. Pressure can be modified to accommodate sensitivity and preference.
Swedish massage, modified to accommodate an expectant mother, is recommended as it addresses the common discomforts brought on by hormonal shifts. Recent studies show stress hormones, like cortisol and norepinephrine, are reduced when massage is introduced into prenatal care. Maternity massage can be performed during all three trimesters, however it’s best to consult your physician for clarification of any limitations.
Whichever style of massage appeals to you, Village Health Clubs & Spas has an experienced staff of practitioners here to introduce you to the wonderful world of massage. Make an appointment today and see how massage can do a body good.
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About the Author:
Danielle Fix is the Lead Therapist at The Village Health Club and Spas, Gainey. Please call (480) 609-6979 to book an appointment with Danielle or one of our many other talented therapists.
Photo courtesy of Monic Massage via FlickrCC