a s s a g e - t h e r a p y - m e n u - s y s t e m
therapy is the leading form of bodywork in the United States. Massage
therapists rub the human body to feel for muscle knots, energy blockages,
stiffness, rigidity, and for a sense of the patient's overall health.
Not only does a good massage relieve many symptoms and conditions,
it has been shown to improve a person's quality of life (several
studies are currently being conducted looking into this same phenomenon).
Massage involves stroking, kneading, and pressing the soft tissues
of the body in order to induce a state of total relaxation.
word massage is an Arabic word meaning stroke. This is exactly what
the massage therapist does: she strokes up and down the body with
varying intensity and force to correct any inadequacies in an individual's
musculature and nervous system. The healing powers of touch have
been recognized for years; massage was first mentioned 3,000 years
ago in Chinese writings. The tomb of Ankh-mahor, dating back to
2200 B.C., depicts an Egyptian priest giving a man a foot massage.
Moreover, Hippocrates, a Greek physician extolled by many as the
"father of modern medicine," was a fourth century proponent of massage.
Pliny, the renowned Roman naturalist, was regularly rubbed to relieve
his asthma. In addition, Julius Caesar, who suffered from epilepsy,
was pinched all over daily to ease his neuralgia and headaches.
massage therapists, physical touch is the one gift of healing that
humans possess. According to research studies, this physical touch
is much more than skin deep. There are over five million touch receptors
in the skin-3,000 in a single fingertip-each sending a message through
the spiinal cord to the b rain. When a massage therapist touches
the skin of a patient, these signals are activated and are sent
straight to the brain in a split second. The advantageous signals
produced by therapeutic physical massage studies show reduce heart
rate, lower blood pressure, and cause the brain to release endorphins,
the brain's natural opiate-like substances that promote stress reduction.
interesting form of massage therapy is circulatory massage. Circulatory
massage is a massage that moves blood and lymph through the tissues.
It is performed by kneading and stroking (petrissage and effleurage)
the muscles at medium to deep pressures. Other forms of bodwork
similar to massage are shiatsu, rolfing, reflexology, and reiki.
American massage therapy, or holistic or intuitive massage, must
be distinguished from Swedish massage because they are different
forms of bodywork. Holistic massage treats the body as a whole,
rather than just concentrating on physical conditions, and its movements
are generally slower and more meditative.
well performed massage can do wonder for an individual's strenghth
and vitality; this kind of massage penetrates right to the depth
of a person's being, soul, and vital force (or energy center). A
massage therapist uses a systematic pattern to massage a person's
body. The therapist generally begins by massagine the back of the
body, working down from the head to the feet. Then he or she turns
the person over and massages the front of the body, once again working
down from the top. This systematic pattern is not entirely systematic
and ritualized because the therapist often changes his or her plan
of attack dependent on the look and feel of the person being massaged.
Not everyone can be massaged in the same way and feel the same benefits,
because not everyone has the same energy structure and mental outlook.
Also, the time of day that a person has a massage may be a factor
in his or her ability to feel the full effects of the massage. In
short, a therapeutic massage is situational and depends on the person
and what is happening in the person's life.
prior to the massage itself the patient may be involved in what
is called centering. Centering is a meditative practice which is
a way of focusing one's energy so that it can be channeled more
effectively and more easily into whatever activity is desired. Centering
means focusing on the hara, the centre of energy in the abdomen.
This is why abdominal breathing is so important in massage therapy,
because the center of one's energy is located in the abdominal cavity.
Deep breathing prior to the massage releases pent-up tension and
can help to reduce myofascial inertia (which commonly requires a
soft-tissue manipulation and sometimes patient self-care and follow-up
exercises). Neck rolling annd neck strengthening are other pre-massage
exercises that may or may not be a part of the therapist's massage
regiment. In addition to centering and other pre-message rituals,
aromatherapy and the application of essential oils is a very important
part of the massage process. The major function of the oils is to
provide a suitable lubricant so that the massage therapist can slide
his or her hands smoothly on the individual's body without friction
(friction is an undesired energy drainer).
are many basic strokes the massage therapist has at her disposal
to choose from. There are gliding strokes (the long stroke, feathering,
broad circling) medium-depth strokes (kneading, pulling, wringing),
deep tissue strokes (heel of hand pressure, thumb-rolling, fingertip
pressure), percussion (hacking, pummelling, cupping, plucking).
is more to massage therapy than just rubbing and stroking. The concept
of energy maintenance is stressed in massage therapy. Massage therapists
feel around the body for weaknesses in body's seven chakras (energies),
and attempt to enhance a person's energetic capabilities. The feeling
that a massage therapist gets about the person's energy when he
or she massages a person's body is an indescribable, intuitive one.
The therapist can tell how the person is feeling mentally and physically,
and often what is going on in his or her life just from administering
a deep massage on a soft massage table.
Consistent massages throughout a one's lifespan have been clinically
proven to increase a person's longevity (duration and quality of
MUSCLES AND FASCIA
chronic fatigue syndrome (a
Lymphatic massage is especially recommended)
sports injuries (Skilled sports massage to injuries is
important to help prevent fibrosis and scar tissue from
developing at injury sites; it is also effective in reducing
the chances of injury)
cramps (Massage painful
muscles with mixture of grated ginger juice and equal
parts olive or sesame oil; for nighttime leg cramps, soak
in a warm bath before going to bed, then stretch your
(Massage any painful areas
around vertebrae at level of diaphragm)
menstrual cramps (Dysmenorrhea)
excessive menstruation (Menorrhagia)
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (Massage
and hot baths relax the body and
help release toxins)
(According to Leon
Chaitow, N.D., D.O., many forms of massage are helpful
in normalizing respiratory function)
influenza (A percussion
massage is especially recommended)
vision disorders (Shiatsu
massage can relieve accompanying muscular
acne (A lymphatic draining
massage is suggested)
(A foot massage
is suggested, as well as manipulation of the
joint of the big toe)
affected area regularly)
psoriasis (Massage area
with two drops calendula oil and one drop lavender oil
in two tablespoons of almond oil)
after applying castor oil packs for maximum
relief of seizures)
flatulence (Rub abdomen
in clockwise direction for maximum relief)
stress (Massage with essential
oils, Aromatherapy can be very
beneficial in relieving stress)
Raynaud's disease (Massage
on a regular basis can assist in normalizing circulatory
flow and relaxing tense structures in the neck and shoulder
(high blood pressure)
cold (A percussion massage
is recommended to break up the cold)
(According to Dr.
Chaitow, N.D., D.O., lymphatic draining massage
and other massage techniques may help to remove swelling
by opening the drainage (lymphatic) channels which might
be overloaded; This may be especially useful for chronic
therapy is a holistic field of therapy which utilizes many other
disciplines of alternative medicine. Aromatherapy, energy medicine
(chakra therapy), therapeutic touch, and meditation are alternative
therapies that massage therapists frequently take ideas, practices,
and theories from. Magnetic unruffling, reflexology, ultrasound
(a practice in which the practitioner pinches his or her thumb and
two fingers together, then moves his or her hand over the client's
body to release tendon, joint and ligament pain), mind clearing,
flower essences therapy, and other headache techniques are other
alternative therapies that massage uses.
art of massage is experiencing tremendous growth and wide acceptance
in the U.S. More future massage practitioners are entering the field
of massage than any other alternative medicine therapy. An estimated
85,000 practitioners of massage will provide 25 million Americans
with 60 million therapeutic massages in 1998. Massage is now being
taught and studied at major universities such as Harvard, Duke,
and the University of Miami. Health maintenance organizations and
insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield are recognizing
massage therapy as a legitimate health practice; patients of massage
therapy are now receiving financial benefits for their treatment.
But most important of all, more and more people with diverse medical
histories are receiving massage, and the massage therapy clientele
is expanding to include many conventional medicine professionals.
Book of Massage: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Eastern and
Western Techniques; by Lucinda Lidell with Sara Thomas, Carola
Beresford Cooke, and Anthony Porter; photography by Fausto Dorelli;
A Gaia Original; Published by Simon & Schuster Inc.; New York, New
York, copyright 1984.
Magazine; May/June 1998; "Healing Touch Benefits Patients Energy
Therapy Employed at Health Facilities"
& Bodywork; Spring 1998; "Cosmetic Surgery and the Healing Power
Therapy Journal; Summer 1998; Vol. 37, No. 2; "Contraindications
to Massage Therapy"
Massage & Bodywork; Summer 1998; "Touching the Soul: Using
Flower Essences for Massage Therapy Part 2"
Massage Therapy Institute
1403 Beltline Road SW, Suite I, Decatur, AL 35603 Tel: 205/306-0444
White River School of Massage 48 Colt Square, Fayetteville, AR 72703
Tel: 501/521-2550; Website: http://www.avey.com/wrs
Francisco School of Massage Training Professional Bodyworkers
for 25 years 1327 Chestnut, Suites A & B San Francisco, CA 94123
Tel: 415/474-4600; Fax: 415/474-4601 School of Shiatsu & Massage
Harbin Hot Springs P.O. Box 889, Middletown, CA 95461 Tel: 707/987-3801
School of Massage and Advanced Healing Arts 401 32nd Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94121 Tel: 415/221-2533; Fax: 415/221-0430 E-Mail:
Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts School of Massage & Bodywork
3715 West Main, Kalamazoo, MI 49006-2842 Tel: 616/373-0910; E-mail:
Hands Institute for Massage Therapy 41 Bergenline Avenue, Westwood,
NJ 07675 Tel: 201/722-0099; Fax: 201/722-0690 Website: http://www.lightlink.com/massage/
Hands E-Mail: HHI@aol.com New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics
202 Morningside, SE, Albuquerque, NM 87108 Tel: 800/654-1675 or
505/268-0818 Website: http://www.nmsnt.org/nathealth
Brennan School of Healing
(BBSH) P.O. Box 2005, East Hampton, NY 11937 Tel: 516/329-0951;
Fax: 516/324-9745 Website: http://www.barbarabrennan.com