What is it?
What does it involve?
What are the real benefits?
Types of Massage – what is best for me?
What should I expect from a massage session?
Myofascial Release Therapy
Trigger Point therapy
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
What is it?
Massage is defined as the systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body for a curative effect. Soft tissues are made more pliable through the hands of the massage therapist to promote circulation and blood flow and bring about healing effects: physical and psychological changes for general wellbeing.
What does it involve?
The system of massage treatment involves the therapist using their hands to apply pressure on your body. Therapists use various techniques to work on the body: stroking and gliding (effleurage), kneading the soft tissues (petrissage), or what is termed ‘percussion’ (tapotement).
What are the ‘real’ benefits?
Massage therapy is extremely beneficial to people leading busy lifestyles suffering from what is now commonly encountered work related stress. Massage will not only aid with mental relaxation but will work on physical symptoms of back and neck pain that comes from sitting for an extended period of time at a desk or from physical labour and the efforts of being a mum. The benefits not only assist work related stresses it’s a fantastic modality for sports people with injuries or keeping there bodies in prime condition.
The importance of taking regular massage has heightened in recent times as more people recognise how beneficial it is as a way to counteract the effects of your daily work related stresses. Work related stress is a serious problem in society leading to poor health, disease, and in some cases even death. This situation might be helped by taking the opportunity to enlist the services of a professional Massage Therapist who will educate you about the benefits of relaxation and massage.
Many people wait until they are already in pain or suffering spinal injuries before turning to massage, but why let it get that bad? It is a good idea to take regular massage as a preventative measure so that such injuries do not occur. Regular massage maintenance will increase your overall sense of wellbeing for optimum physical and mental health, helping you to achieve your goals.
Massage is used to treat a wide range of disorders, such as:
- Muscular tension
- Headaches and migraines
- Work related stress
- Repetitive strain injury
- Eating disorders and digestive dysfunction
- Pre-natal pregnancy conditions
- Frozen shoulder
- Sports and dancing injuries
Types of Massage – what type of massage is best for me?
There are several forms of massage and it can be confusing to know what will work best for a particular ailment or condition. Some therapist concentrate more on relaxing the client whilst others will work more deeply at repairing damaged muscle tissue. I use a combination of these approaches and differing techniques to achieve the best for you.
1. Connective Tissue Massage – this technique is connected to the Myofascial release technique, and does not involve the use of oil or lotion. It can relieve chronic tension, improve posture and relieve painful symptoms of chronic diseases such as Arthritis, Tendonitis, TMJ and Sciatica.
2. Deep Tissue Massage – focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue. It is designed to reach the deep sections of thick muscles, specifically the individual muscle fibres.
3. Remedial Massage – works to heat muscles and tendons that are damaged, impaired or knotted. It holistically treats the whole body and traces the discomfort back to the original cause.
It uses specialised techniques to support and speed up the body’s own repair mechanisms. The massage is applied directly to the skin usually with an oil lubricant. Passive stretching moves are also employed.
4. Swedish Massage – is a system of long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration and shaking motions that apply pressure between muscles and bones, rubbing in the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. Swedish Massage feels good, is relaxing and invigorating.
What should I expect from a massage session?
Massage normally takes place in a private room or space. Clients are expected to partially undress and are given a towel to place over themselves. The exception to this is with ‘Mobile seated Massage’ whereby the client may remain clothed as it is not always practiced in a private space. Most massage will take place on a massage table lying down, but in some cases the massage takes place whilst you are seated on a massage chair Massage therapy can last for 10 minutes to 2 hours depending what is requested.
Myofascial Release Therapy
A gentle blend of stretching and massage, Myofascial Release Therapy uses hands-on manipulation of the entire body to promote healing, release and pain relief. The therapy is based on the idea that poor posture, physical injury, illness and emotional stress can throw the body out of alignment and cause its intricate web of fascia to become tight and constricted.
The skillful use of the hands in Myofascial Release Therapy is said to release disruptions in this fascial network that links every organ and tissue in the body with every other part. Pressure on the bones, muscles, joints and nerves is relieved in the process, and balance is restored. The release of tension once the body has responded to the therapy allows more functional flexibility and mobility of the muscles, fascia and associated structures. Release may also facilitate the emergence of negative or repetitive emotional patterns, which have interfered with the healing process.
Myofascial Release Therapy may be helpful for many physical problems, including:
- Back strain and general chronic or acute back pain
- Lumbar and thoracic pain
- Chronic cervical pain
- Dizziness, vertigo
- Carpel tunnel syndrome
- Myofascial pain dysfunction
- Plantar fasciitis
- Post-polio symptoms
- TMJ dysfunction
- Chronic pain syndromes
Myofascial Release treatments will usually take me one and half hours, a series of treatments may be necessary, although relief may be obtained from one session and it is generally suitable for people of all ages. When muscles and tendons become damaged or impaired, knotted and tense or immobile, Remedial Massage provides a healing treatment that can be gentle or strong, deep or shallow.
Remedial massage holistically treats the whole body and traces the discomfort as far as possible back to the original cause, healing both the cause of the disorder as well as the symptoms.
It uses several specialised techniques to locate and repair damage and to support and speed up the body’s own repair mechanisms. The massage is applied directly to the skin using a lubricating medium, usually oil, which ensures that the muscles associated with the disorder and mobilisation of the joint are deeply penetrated. Passive stretching moves are also used..
Key benefits of Remedial Massage include: the stimulation to the blood supply allowing toxins in the muscles to be removed; the calming of the peripheral nervous system to ease pain and discomfort; and the toning and relaxing of muscles to improve joint mobility. An improvement to the health of the cells, the repairing of tissues, and the easing of stiffness and tension can also be experienced through therapeutic relaxation.
Muscular and skeletal dysfunctions often addressed with Remedial Massage include:
- Frozen Shoulder
- muscular cramps
- muscular atrophy
- sports and dancing injuries.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger points, also known as myofascial trigger points, are areas of hyper-irritability in the soft tissue structure. These can be acute sources of pain or latent, unnoticed by the client until pressure is applied by the practitioner. Trigger points are manifested as small contraction knots in the muscles, that control the state of contraction and active ones may cause muscle spasm and referred pain.
Treatment consists of physical therapy, manipulation and stretching. A firm digital pressure is applied by the practitioner, who is able to locate the specific points causing pain and restricted movement and these may often be located in places different to where the client actually feels the pain.
Trigger Point Therapy is often incorporated into the Massage treatment. Other factors such as nutrition, stress and chronic illness are also considered, as potential contributors towards the issue. Conditions that will benefit from this modality include:
- Sports Injuries Chronic
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Neck and Jaw Pain
- Stress and Fatigue
Sports massage is a type of massage that is specifically tailored to sporting injuries or ailments. It is not meant to be a relaxing massage and, indeed, can become quite vigorous at times. Contrary to its name, sports massage is not only utilised by professional sportspeople or people that exercise heavily. It is of benefit to anyone that exercises, even if it is only mild exercise such as regular walking.
Sports massage is designed to prevent and relieve injuries and conditions that are associated with exercise. It can often be quite strenuous and is meant to relieve and reduce the stress and tension that can build up within the body’s soft tissues while exercising. It can be carried out before, during, or after playing sport or exercising and uses techniques that are designed to increase endurance and performance, to minimise the chances of injury and, if there is an injury, to reduce the recovery time.
Sports massage can treat a variety of ailments and injuries that may occur as a result of exercise. It also has other benefits that allow you to train or exercise more efficiently.
Some benefits that sports massage has include:
• draining away fatigue
• relieving swelling
• reducing muscle tension
• promoting flexibility
• injuries that occur as a result of overexertion or overuse
• relieving pain
• preventing injuries
• improving heart rate and blood pressure
• increasing blood circulation and lymph flow
• treating injuries such as shin splints, tennis elbows, sprains and strains, corked thighs etc
Essential oils are most commonly associated with aromatherapy and they have a wide range of benefits, from the physical to the emotional. Essential Oils and massage Aromatherapy works in a number of ways.
To start with, the skin absorbs approximately the same amount of substances that the digestive system does in one day. In this way, the skin provides a direct link to the bloodstream for the substances in essential oils to take effect on the body they creates an emotional response from the limbic system located within the brain and also a systemic physical response. In this way, it is able to treat a range of physical ailments.
Essential oils can also be used to guide and change moods, heal emotions, and enable the deep healing and transformation of a persons body.
Essential oils are concentrated oils that contain volatile aroma compounds from plants. The term “essential” simply means that the oil has a distinctive scent of the plant. Essential oils are extracted from plants by a number of means including distillation, expression, and solvent extraction.
Because essential oils are so concentrated, they generally should not be applied to the skin in an undiluted form. This is because they can cause irritation or even provoke allergic reactions. Rather, they are blended with a carrier oil before being used. The most common carrier oil I use is grape seed as it is the least potential for allergic responses and it applies well I’ve found. Mineral oil is not used in aromatherapy as it is not a natural product and can actually block the absorption of essential oil into the skin. Carrier oils, as well as carrying essential oils, have a range of health benefits of their own. They contain vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, and many carrier oils actually soften and improve the condition of the skin. Some of them are also fantastic for treating skin conditions such as eczema, and psoriasis, as well as helping to reduce wrinkles and scar tissue.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
Have you ever exercised and found that you have been sore for days afterwards? It’s actually not an injury but a common phenomenon known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This can happen after some massage treatments.
Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS is the muscle pain and soreness that is felt 12-48 hours after exercise. In this case massage treatment. It particularly occurs at the start of a new exercise program, after a change in activities, or after a dramatic increase in the duration or intensity of exercise. This soreness is a normal response to unusual levels of exertion or deep tissue massage that are placed on the body, and is part of the process that the body undergoes in order to gain strength and stamina as the muscles recover and build.
DOMS is at its worst within the first two days following exercise or activity and massage and will go away over the following days.
DOMS, while annoying, is actually quite common. It is different to the acute pain of muscle strains or sprains, which are felt as an abrupt, specific and sudden pain that occurs during the activity and causes swelling or bruising. DOMS is more of an ache that is felt within the muscles.
DOMS is caused by microscopic tearing of the muscle fibers that exercise and deep tissue massage can create. The amount of tearing that occurs will depend on how long and how deep your treatment is. Any movements that you are not used to can cause DOMS eccentric muscle contractions – or movements that cause the muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens – apparently cause the most soreness. Eccentric muscle contractions can be found in going down stairs, running downhill, and lowering weights, for example.
DOMS is a common thing, there are ways to reduce this discomfort from happening after treatments:
- Drink lots of water
- simply wait it out – pain often goes away within 3 to 7 days without any treatment
- avoid activity that will increase the pain felt
- use active recovery techniques such as low impact aerobic exercise
- use the RICE method of treating injuries
- gently stretching
- gentle massage to the affected muscles
- yoga may be helpful to some people
- contrast showers may be helpful – alternating between hot and cold water