Western and Eastern Massage Modalities

Western and Eastern Massage Modalities

WESTERN

Western forms of massage therapy are both traditional and modern. While Sports Massage, Swedish Massage, Deep Tissue Massage, and Trigger Point Massage are popular forms, they are not the only types of Western Massage available. Indeed there are many different variations of Western Massage. Some are straightforward adaptations of the essential Swedish Massage.

Others combine the traditional with a more modern approach. Some unite Eastern and Western elements to create a new entity. Among the many types of Western Massage Therapy are the following:

• Rolfing
• Myofascial Release
• Kurashova Method
• Esalen Massage
• Medical Massage and
• Reflexology.

Western Massage therapists have one major thing in common. They focus on the body. They frequently rely on a completely Western concept of medical knowledge. In most instances, it is all about the physical repair and maintenance of the body. This is certainly true of Rolfing.

Ida Rolf

ROLFING

Rolfing is the product of the work of Ida P. Rolf (1896-1979). The technique is officially the Rolfing Method of Structural Integration. It believes the body becomes worn down and shifts within the myofascial system (connective tissue). Using elbows, fingers, and knuckles, a practitioner helps to align the misaligned body tissue and joints. This is accomplished after ten sessions.

Once considered a painful experience, the methods have shifted and become gentler in their approach. Ida Rolf practiced at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, before establishing her process and school- the Rolf Institute. Esalen Massage, like Rolfing, is based on Swedish Massage. Its techniques are similar.

Esalen Massage Therapy features the long strokes of Swedish Massage, combining them with rocking movements and deep tissue massage. Esalen does so in what they refer to as a caring or nurturing environment.
The environmental factor owes much to the sensory awareness approach of Charlotte Selver. Nevertheless, the focus is on physical wellness. Rolfing is also related to Myofascial Release Massage Therapy.

The Myofascial Release approach owes much to the work of John Barnes, a physical therapist. The focus here, like in Rolfing, is on the fascia. The fascia are the connective tissues found everywhere around the muscles and joints; surrounding the organs and bones to release tension and restore balance to the physical body, the practitioner massages the affected areas. Fingers, palms, forearms, and elbows are brought into play.

The therapist uses long, gliding, and smooth strokes to stretch and mobilize the fascia. Like Rolfing, Myofascial Release Massage Therapy may be incorporated into other types of Massage Therapy.

MEDICAL MASSAGE

Medical Massage is another adaptation of Swedish Massage. Medical Massage addresses only the issues of healing the physical body. Its approach and techniques tend to vary according to the needs of the patient and the directions/prescriptions of the physician.

Medical Massage practitioners work together with other health professionals to restore health by treating injuries and addressing other illnesses. The most common types of massage address deformities, tennis elbow, sciatica, knee pain, sprained ankles, and repetitive stress disorders. The technique is illness-specific.

The Kurashova Method of massage therapy has its origins in Russia. It is a known form of medical massage introduced to the United States by Zhenya Kurashova Wine. The practice consists of more than 100 strokes. Depending upon the condition requiring treatment, the practitioner uses deep or gentle strokes. In essence, this method of massage combines Medical and Sports Massage elements. It intends to treat physical dysfunctions and enhance athletic performances. It can also help a client relax or re-energize their body. It is genuinely Western in both its medical and philosophical approach.

REFLEXOLOGY

REFLEXOLOGY

Reflexology is often considered an Eastern form of Massage Therapy. It claims to have predecessors in the wall paintings of Egypt and Chinese Acupuncture. Yet, its founders are both Americans. In the 19th century, Dr. William Fitzgerald developed a theory on the interconnection between specific points on the feet, pressure, and the impact on the body organs. He referred to 10 zones on the feet that would influence health if pressed upon properly. This is very similar to the Chinese concepts of meridians or channels and acupressure.

Mrs. Eunice D. Ingham, an American masseuse, adopted Fitzgerald’s ideas in the 1930s. She wrote a book, The Stories the Feet Can Tell, published in 1938. This spawned the massage now known as Reflexology. The intent is to restore physical health by pressing the points of the foot.

Each foot (or hand) has specific ties to an organ or other significant part of the body. Direct pressure releases the pain and helps the healing process. Reflexology naturally finds itself in combination with other forms of Western and Eastern Massage Therapy. Aromatherapy, Shiatsu, Sports Massage, Chinese Massage Therapy, and Yoga other practices may include Reflexology as a technique. In some ways, Reflexology provides the ideal example of West meeting East.

amma

EASTERN MASSAGE THERAPY

The standard form of Eastern Massage Therapy is Chinese or Asian Massage Therapy.

The most standard is acupressure. Its approach is strictly based on the philosophical and medical concepts from the East. It perceives the healing of a body to be realized only with the involvement of the life force. This is the Chi or Qi in Chinese and the Ki in Japanese.

In Traditional Chinese or Japanese Massage Therapy, the practitioner works with the energy or life force to heal the body. It is all about balancing the energy within the body. It is also about creating and maintaining a physical, mental, and emotional balance.

In the traditional form of Asian massage therapy, the therapist strives to restore a balance among all aspects of the body. Moreover, he or she accomplishes this using a system based on a concept of meridians or pathways. A blockage of any of the 12 meridians or 8 channels, according to Acupressure theory, will cause many adverse effects such as disease and emotional trauma. By placing pressure on specific points, the practitioner clears the channels. This allows free flow of energy, balance is restored, and health improves.

Other traditional versions of Western or Asian massage therapy include

• Amma (Japan)
• Tuina or Tui Na (China) and
• Thai Massage.

All these forms of Asian massage rely on the philosophical and medical approaches of the East. Tuina, for example, works with specific acupressure points to stimulate the joints and muscles. Techniques are traditional Chinese brushing, kneading, rolling, and pressing.

Massage Therapy as an Alternative Medicine

Massage Therapy as an Alternative Medicine

MASSAGE THERAPY AS AN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE

Massage therapy is a broad term that encompasses a wide variety of procedures, and methods, of pressing, kneading and manipulating muscles, and other soft body tissues, such as tendons, ligaments, skin, and connective tissues. The main objective of massage therapy is to relax the soft tissues while promoting an increased delivery of blood and oxygen to the areas being massages and, therefore, to decrease tightness and pain. Massage therapy is accomplished by utilizing the massage therapist’s fingers, hands, arms, elbows, hands/or feet. Occasionally, however, mechanical and electronic devices may also be used.

There are more than eighty official types of massage therapy treatments, but some of the most widely known are the following:

The Deep Tissue Massage. This technique uses a combination of strokes, and deep finger pressure applied way down under the skin and into the muscles at the painful sites to break up knots and loosen tightness.

The Trigger Point Massage. This procedure is also known as the Pressure Point Massage, and it is more focused on specific myofascial trigger points with a stronger force than the Deep Tissue Massage. The goal here is to dissolve the painful knots that were formed in the muscles as well as to relieve additional symptoms in more remote areas of the body.

The Swedish Massage. This system utilizes oblong, smooth strokes, kneading, and friction of the muscles as well as joint movement to increase their range of motion and flexibility.

The Shiatsu Massage. Using altering rhythmic pressure, tapping, squeezing and rubbing along the meridian and on various other parts of the body, the main objective of this Eastern massage therapy is to enhance the flow of fundamentally important energy called gi. And this energy, in the ancient Chinese medicine, is believed to be the life force that regulates a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wellness that is easily affected when subjected to the rival forces of yin and yang.

Massage and Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic Treatment:
– For the most part, chiropractic focuses on the hard tissues such as the spine and other joints for adjusting and realignment. Chiropractors have some training in massage techniques, but that is never their first and foremost priority.
– Chiropractors are authorized to make a medical diagnosis, order x-rays or blood works.
– Chiropractors cannot prescribe conventional medications, but they can sell supplements or homeopathic remedies.
– Chiropractors do not need medical referrals to perform their work.

Massage Therapy:
– Massage therapists perform wonderful work on the soft body tissues such as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments but, are not trained, nor are they licensed to, adjust the spine or any other joints.
– Massage therapists may not legally make a medical diagnosis, order x-rays, or any blood work.
– Massage therapists are not permitted to dispense medications of Western medicine, but they can and do provide or recommend alternative herbal remedies.
– Massage Therapists do not require referrals from anyone to conduct their massage sessions.

A recent study, in which more than 34,000 participants in the United States, were asked to rate which alternative treatments worked best for their two biggest health problems for the past two years. The overwhelming majority voted for deep tissue massage therapy and chiropractic therapy in equal measures for such conditions as back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, insomnia and prostate problems.

Whether the four most often practiced massage therapies I mentioned above are used as complementary alternative medicine (also known as CAM) or any one of the other recognized eighty which are available to a lesser or greater extent, there are important points to be considered:

• No massage therapy should ever be used in place of regular or ongoing medical care.

• Massage therapy should not be the cause or the excuse to postpone visiting a medical professional for existing medical issues.

• The massage therapist’s schooling and credentials must be verified, as well as his or her experience with specific health and medical conditions.
• Any additional complementary alternative medicine (CAM) such as herbs, supplements, special diets, or other treatments which are suggested by the massage therapist must first be reviewed with a medical professional.

• Although the subject of massage therapy (how it works and why) has been studied for many years and continues to study, much of it remains within the realm of a mystery.

• If and when massage therapy is performed by a well training and experienced professional, few risks are involved, and the worst of them may be temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling or an allergic reaction to the massage oils. The small number of serious injuries which have been reported were triggered by untrained hands that were not aware that certain medical conditions should not be massaged. It is, therefore, essential to consult a medical professional before undergoing massage therapy, particularly under the following circumstances:

 Deep vein thrombosis
 A bleeding disorder or when taking blood thinners
 Damaged blood vessels
 Weakened bones from osteoporosis, a recent fracture or cancer
 The presence of high body temperature
 Open or healing wounds, tumors, damaged nerves, an infection, severe inflammation or fragile skin
 Pregnancy
 Heart problems
 Dermatomyositis or any other skin disease

History of Chair Massage

History of Chair Massage

Massages in chairs or in merely sitting positions have always had their place among most ancient and traditional massage techniques around the world but the contemporary Chair massage as we know it today and as we occasionally refer to as the On-Site or Seated massage is a trend that began as recently as 1982. The Chair massage was the brainchild of David Palmer, the director of the Amma Institute of Traditional Japanese Massage at that time who is considered to be the ‘father’ of Chair massage. At the time, Massage Therapy was not as highly valued in the health field as it is today. Table Massage was expensive and considered to be a ‘questionable’ profession.

Mr. Palmer’s entrepreneurial intuition and insightfulness led him to adopt a few existing old-time techniques and to renovate others to develop a modern massage technique which could be performed anywhere as it required only brief periods of time, no need for the removal of clothing and quite reasonably priced. Consequently, his Chair massages became convenient, affordable, and non-threatening.

The first clients to enjoy the newly developed Chair massages were the employees and customers of the Apple Computers outlets, where David Palmer and his graduates set up their makeshift workstations in 1984. That venture lasted only about twelve months and the demand at the time was not huge, but they did give up to 350 Chair massages each week, and it proved to be a step in the right direction and an excellent beginning. By 1986 a specially designed and structured chair to better accommodate Chair massages went into production and today, there are well over 100,000 such chairs in use within the United States as well as in many other nations around the world.

David Palmer realized that Chair massage will be truly successful only with further development of this particular niche, and he opened continuing education seminars for training graduates of other massage schools. During the twelve months of 1986, he taught 24 Chair massage seminars at 24 different locations in the United States as well as in Sweden and Norway. The concept of the Chair massage was embraced with open arms when presented to the American Massage Therapy Association, and as a consequence, by 1990, just about every massage school in the nation was teaching it.

The Chair massage is not officially categorized as a therapy or a treatment but rather as a minimal relaxation technique. Whether that was a deliberate marketing ploy and clever salesmanship or not, it worked to attract people who would otherwise shy away from other kinds of massage therapies and treatments. For the most part, those who took the first step and braved the process of the Chair massage would have become more open-minded about progressing and graduating into the “true” massage therapies.

Nowadays, chair massages are readily available in shopping malls, airport terminals, independent shops, franchises, hotel lounges, hospitals, gyms, spas, bus depots, train stations, supermarkets, community centers, eateries (particularly the new-age cafés), convention centers, beauty salons, barbershops, medical and dental offices, university campuses, corporate workplaces and even at street corners, public parks and city square throughout the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. The Chair massage is estimated to be the fastest-growing and most popular form of skilled touch, as professional massages are performed on the otherwise touch-deprived masses. It is David Palmer’s greatest dream to see young children performing shoulder rubs among family members and friends as part of their regular daily routine; and expressed in his own words, “When we reach that point I will know that we have arrived at our goal of a world where touch is recognized as essential to the development and maintenance of healthy human beings.”

Purpose of Deep Tissue Massage

Purpose of Deep Tissue Massage

The deep tissue massage is a kind of massage therapy that centers its attention primarily on the ailing, the sore, the painful, and the distressed deeper layers of muscles and connective tissues.

The purpose of Deep Tissue Massage is particularly beneficial for chronically tight and constricted areas such as in cases of stiff necks, tightness of lower backs and aching shoulders. The strokes of the Deep Tissue massage are not very different from those of any other types of massage therapies, but they are slower and with more pressure applied to reach deeper while focusing on troubled areas.

The Deep Tissue massage is so important in certain painful contractions and spasms due to stress, strain or injury because that is the only way to get to the root of the problem as it is embedded deep under the surface where adhesions which are the causes of the pain and rigidity in muscles, tendons, and ligaments are located. Adhesions obstruct circulation in the affected areas to limit the blood flow, which leads to the pain, the restricted movement, and, ultimately, to the inflammation. By applying firm pressure and direct friction across the grain and fabric of the muscles, the Deep Tissue massage aims to break down those troublesome adhesions to restore proper blood circulation, reinstate full movement and heal the inflamed tissues. The therapists performing the Deep Tissue massage may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the therapy session and alternate them during the various stages. Clients are frequently asked to take deep breaths as the therapists dig deeply into a particularly tense area.

Because the Deep Tissue massage is somewhat intense, it should not be applied under the following conditions:

Infectious skin disease, rashes, bruises, inflamed skin, tumors, or open and unhealed wounds.
Immediately, or soon after, surgery or recent fractures.
Immediately. or soon after, chemotherapy or radiation treatments, unless approved by the client’s physician.
Osteoporosis patients, unless approved by the treating doctor.
Clients prone to blood clots.
Heart disease patients, unless recommended by their cardiologists.
Pregnant women should get their massage treatments from professionals who are certified in pregnancy massage.
Abdominal hernia.

The good news is that Deep Tissue massage really works, and it usually works very fast. Often, clients will walk into a session with excruciating pain and walk out a couple of hours later with smiles of relief on their faces. The bad news is that, depending on their tolerance level to pain, most clients experience it to one degree or another at a certain point during the session. Also, there is usually some measure of soreness immediately after the treatment, which can last up to an entire day. However, the pain of the Deep Tissue massage therapy and the lingering soreness afterward is nothing compared to the pain before the treatment, and it comes with the knowledge that it will all be over very shortly. The massage therapist may suggest applying an icepack to the sore area, but it is rarely severe enough to warrant it.

When most massage therapies are aimed at relaxation of the body and mind and the massage is generally applied to the entire body, the Deep Tissue massage sets its sights on precise problematic areas such as those afflicted with:

Chronic or acute pains
Diminished mobility or limited range of motion.
Healing areas after traumas or injuries caused by falls, sports injuries, whiplashes from car accidents, and so on.
Strains from repetitive motion, such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
Pains due to incorrect posturing of the body.
Pains from osteoarthritis. According to a study conducted and reported by the Consumer Reports magazine, over 34,000 people classified Deep Tissue massage therapy as being more effective in alleviating osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescribed, or over-the-counter drugs, glucosamine, diets, acupuncture or chiropractic treatments.
Fibromyalgia. Statistics have shown that Deep Tissue massage is more successful in easing symptoms of Fibromyalgia than any other available curative remedy.
Muscle tension, contractions, or spasms.

To flush out metabolic waste from the massaged tissues, clients should drink plenty of water after the Deep Tissue massage.

THE HOT STONE MASSAGE

THE HOT STONE MASSAGE

Hot Stone Massage is a therapeutic massage technique in which the massage therapist holds a heated stone and applies various massage strokes.

Because they tend to absorb heat and retain it for extended periods, the stones which are used are smooth, basalt rocks of various sizes and shapes. These stones then are heated in water to 120 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Native Americans are also known to have used hot stones for medicinal purposes, but those are heated by direct fire. This technique of fire-heated stones was restored by Mary Nelson, a native of Tucson, Arizona, and she trademarked it as LaStone Therapy.

Primarily due to the effects of the heat from the stones, the Hot Stone massage is profoundly calming and delightfully relaxing as it rapidly releases the tension out of every soft tissue, be it muscle, tendon or ligament, which is included in this treatment while gentle and comforting peace washes over the client almost immediately. The hot stones are used throughout the entire session to massage, to stroke, to press, to manipulate, and to knead the client’s soft tissues. On occasion, heated stones are laid out at strategic spots along the spine, as well as in the palms of the client’s hands, and between the toes. This maneuver promotes the optimal flow of energy throughout the entire body. As soon as the stones cool down, the massage therapist will replace them with newly heated ones, but areas that are inflamed, injured or swollen, will often be treated with cold stones instead of the hot ones.

For clients to get the most out of the Hot Stone Massage Therapy, clients are encouraged to:

· Indicate any discomfort such as those which might be created by stones which are too hot, by the massage therapist applying pressure with too much force, by the background music which may be too loud, by the room temperature which could be too hot or too cold and so on.

Refrain from consuming a heavy meal, and abstain from ingesting any amount of alcohol shortly before the session.

Arrive in plenty of time to check-in and to relax before the treatment.

Take a sauna, a steam bath, or a hot tub before the session as it will relax and soften the muscles for better results from the entire treatment. If the hot tub was treated with chlorine, the clients are asked to take hot showers to rinse off the chemical.

Remove all their clothing and be assured that they will remain completely covered with a towel. This will give the massage therapist better access and direct contact with the skin.

Take slow, deep breaths throughout the session as it helps to relax the body and release more toxins.

To banish irrelevant thoughts from racing through their heads by concentrating on the feel of the therapist’s movements over their bare skins.

Get off the massage table after the session very slowly as dizziness may set in otherwise.

Absorb the full results of the massage treatment by allowing some quiet time in a peaceful place.

Drink extra water after the massage to flush out and wash away the toxins released during the treatment.

The Hot Stone massage is beneficial in many ways as it promotes deep muscle and soft tissue relaxation, eases stress, releases toxins, alleviates pain, improves circulation, and calms the mind. Quite appropriately, therefore, there is an impressive list of ailments which are treated with Hot Stone massages, and they are:

Muscle aches and pains due to overuse, injury, or stress.
Back pain caused by injury, poor posture, or misuse.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Arthritis.
Fibromyalgia.
Stress, anxiety, nervousness and depression.
Insomnia.
Any number of circulatory problems.

The Hot Stone massage requires specialized training. It involves more preparation time for disinfecting and heating the stones, the session is often somewhat longer than usual, and more time is spent cleaning up.

As a consequence, the Hot Stone massage tends to be more costly than any other conventional and essential Swedish massage. But it is worth it, and you are worthy of it!

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