Types of Massage Therapy Techniques

Massage Therapy techniques have been universally utilized since ancient and medieval times because of the numerous physical and emotional benefits. Massage is the physical manipulation of putting pressure or tension, friction or kneading of the muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues found throughout the body.

There are many different types of massage therapy techniques. These techniques range from the ancient Eastern European and Asian techniques such as acupressure to modern Western techniques such as the Swedish massage and even prenatal massage. There are a wide variety of massage therapy techniques that are used to achieve different goals for the body.

Using different methods to work through various muscles allows the body to work through both physical and emotional issues that may be hidden deep within the soft tissues. The use of touch is very important for both the physical body functions as well as the mind and emotional aspects.

As humans we are capable of learning not only basic information about the muscles in our bodies, such as how they move and their abilities to grow and develope, but we are also able to learn how these muscles are connected to the rest of our body parts such as the bones, nerves, and brain.

By learning massage therapy techniques we are learning about the muscles we use on a daily basis, and we are learning about the positive or negative affects of how we move them.

Many believe that emotional events have direct effects on our physical situation. Memories, stress, and life changing moments are events that are thought to physically alter the state of muscle tissue in both positive and negative ways.

As the brain is connected to the body, our psychological traumas or breakthroughs are connected to the body and many believe that we harbor feelings, and memories in certain parts of our bodies or more specifically, muscles and tendons.

Through the plethora of massage therapy techniques you can delve into your deep routed issues and alleviate chronic or irregular pains that do not disappear on their own.

Massage therapy techniques are used throughout hundreds of societies. Massage has been popular since ancient times and is used in today’s world more than ever. The many techniques of massage are used for different purposes as well as used based on geographic location.

Massage therapy is beneficial because it is a way to comfort and even heal the body through touch, which is very important to the psychological development of people. Also it is a great way to take care of yourself because it is often difficult or even impossible to massage yourself without putting other muscles in your body through stress or strain.

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The Top 5 Alternative Healing Therapies

There are many different ways of healing the body and mind through alternative therapies. Alternative healing means healing through a less common form of practice.  In the western society, the main way to heal any given issue is to treat the problem through western medicine which often involves hospitals, pain medication, routine doctor visits, surgeries, etc. However, there are alternative solutions that can either exclude entirely the western procedures or incorporate them as needed. For instance, in the Eastern cultures the way of healing is to discover and treat the root of the problem, because most likely whatever ailments are causing pain are usually the result of an issue entirely different.

There are different therapies of alternative practices that can heal the body, mind, and soul.  Some of the top five therapies are Aromatherapy massage, Acupuncture, Thai massage, massage that incorporates manipulating temperatures, and meditation.

Aromatherapy massages include activating and awakening the body through scent.  It uses specific oils that fill the room and encourage various emotional and physical responses depending on what the scent is. For instance, oils of lavender create a very calming environment and brings the receiver relaxation and restoration, while smells of lemongrass or mint can conjure much needed energy and revitalize the spirit.

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique that focuses on finding the root of the problem through examining one’s “chi” or energy force.  Acupuncturists believe that if there is something wrong with the natural energy flow the body will pay the price through pain or illness.  They use a graph of the human body that shows meridians, or specific pressure points, throughout the body, that, when activated properly, can increase energy flow and help the body function more efficiently.  In acupuncture, the therapists activate these pressure points by manipulating extremely small needles into the skin.  This is supposed to encourage circulation, which releases tension in muscles or even major organs.

Thai Massage is an eastern technique used in Thailand and has become extremely popular throughout the western world. Thai massages are generally considered to be intense and often painful, but the results are outrageously positive. A Thai therapist uses not only their hands to massage, but they use their elbows, forearms, feet, knuckles, and sometimes knees to heal the body.  They can often be forceful and intrusive; working their way into parts of the body you would not expect to be touched in a massage, such as inside the ear.  Although this may sound uncomfortable, if you are able to relax and accept it, you will walk away feeling revitalized and loose.

Healing through Temperature is a more modern form of massage therapy that encourages muscle relaxation.  Often a therapist will use heated stones or towels to increase circulation and help the muscles loosen so they can work deep within the muscle.  In Hot Stone massage, small stones are placed along the spine, palms of the hands, and sometimes on the feet.  There are therapist that will also alternate between warm and chilled stones in order to give the muscles an ebb and flow so they do not become too loose or too stiff throughout the massage.

Meditation is a key form of alternative healing.  In the western society, people have too much stress, activities, and objects that distract them from taking time each day to just sit quietly and relax the brain.  Meditation is one of the most restorative activities and it is very hard for people to believe that it can actually help long term.  By quieting the mind, you can become capable of lowering blood pressure, relaxing muscles, focusing on your breath which increases circulation, and it helps your overall ability to focus on things later in the day. Often people with ailments or even emotional problems will meditate on the specific topic, using imagery to rid the body of the problem and bring in healing positivity.

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Can Massage Help Arthritis in Neck Area?

Massage therapy is a great technique used to release tension, loosen muscles, induce relaxation, and sometimes can help reduce chronic pain.  There are many styles of massage that are used all over the world and some have been around for centuries.  These various styles work for different people depending on why they are seeking healing through the art of touch.  For some people, receiving a massage is a way to center themselves and calm their inner spirit. For others, it is more important on a physical level; to bring relief to the body or even to get rid of pain.

Massage has been used to treat many ailments ranging from sore muscles, to headaches, to even spinal problems including stenosis, herniated discs, or arthritis.  Arthritis in the neck, or rather cervical arthritis, is a common problem that can be treated with massage.  Arthritis that occurs in the neck is generally considered to be caused by osteoarthritis, but it is possible for it to be from rheumatoid arthritis or fibromyalgia, but it is not as common.  Osteoarthritis is usually caused from aging or injuries, or a combination of both.

With time, the disks in the spine, in this case specifically the cervical neck area, slowly deteriorates, which forces the joints to compress onto each other, putting stress on the bones and nerves within the spine.  The bones of the vertebrae react by building more bone to relieve the stress, but this actually just causes stiffness and muscle strain, which results in pain.

Arthritis can cause chronic pain in the neck and can lead to more severe injuries such as cervical stenosis or a slipped disc. If these injuries are not treated from the beginning, surgery could easily be the only solution. Some early preventative treatments include stretching, taking anti-inflammatories, resting and getting frequent massages.

Massage therapy can help relieve some of the strain put on the neck muscles as a result of arthritis.  Massage can loosen the delicate muscles around the neck and shoulders that have to hold up the head.  This loosening can take off pressure in the cervical spine which can allow for a larger range of motion when moving the head.  It can also help take away some of the pain that is caused by the muscles constantly over exerting themselves. Also, it can make it easier for the person to stand for longer periods of time, which can be hard to do with arthritis because of gravity’s affect on the spine.

If you do choose to get massages for your arthritis in the neck, do make an effort to regularly receive massage. With chronic ailments, massage is the most efficient when a person is able to go on a regular basis. Even though one massage will help, after a while the pain will return unless you are frequently getting massage therapy.

It is important to inform your massage therapist of your condition, whatever it may be.  If you are in the beginning stages of arthritis, make sure you contact your doctor and actively work out a plan that can make living with arthritis bearable.  Surgery is definitely the last thing you want to do, so it is best to help yourself before your problems become too difficult to manage.

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Massage for Spinal Stenosis Treatment

Spinal stenosis is a serious diagnosis that requires treatment.  There are many types of treatment for spinal stenosis ranging from homeopathic methods to surgery.  A spinal stenosis involves parts of the spine narrowing, causing the nerves that flow through the spinal cord to become pinched or compressed, which ultimately inflicts pain around the area or even in the legs. This narrowing of the spine is due to aging or arthritis in the spine. The pinching of the nerves is from either disc herniation, slipped discs, or bone spurs on the vertebrae.

Spinal stenosis can often happen without any side affects.  A person who is healthy and active may not ever feel the pain if they have spinal stenosis, or a person who does not happen to have a major nerve being pinched in the process.  However, if a person feels pain from spinal stenosis it can be extremely severe.  They might experience pain throughout the neck and shoulders (if it is cervical stenosis), low back, and legs. They might feel numbness or tingling in the legs, or stiffness along the back which often renders them immobile.

There are a few different types of spinal stenosis.  There is cervical stenosis, which occurs in the cervical region of the spine located at neck from the base of the scull to the top of the shoulder area. Then there is lumbar stenosis which happens in the low back lumbar region of the spine.  There are different angles that a stenosis can occur in the various vertebrae such as a lateral angle, which can affect specific nerves depending on which part of the vertebrae is pinching.

So can massage therapy help spinal stenosis? It truly depends.  If you have spinal stenosis, the first thing you should do is contact a doctor and find out how bad your situation is.  For some people rest and anti inflammatory medicines like aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen can help.  Sometimes a doctor will suggest working with a physical therapist for exercises that can help loosen any stiff muscles that could be causing pain.  Acupuncture and acupressure have also been known to bring relief to individuals suffering from a spinal stenosis.  Acupuncture and acupressure is based on the belief that each individual carries an amount of energy or “chi” that can easily be blocked by any unhealthy physical or mental habits. If the chi is blocked, various parts of the body will pay the price such as arthritis in the spine causing nerve compression. Another form of massage therapy that is often used in treatment for spinal stenosis is chiropractic aid.  Chiropractors work with the spine and mostly treat patients with chronic pain.

Other forms of massage that might help depending on how severe the pain is could be the Swedish massage or even a Thai deep tissue massage.  Swedish massages, or classic massages, are generally more gentle and restorative; bringing the individual relaxation and comfort.  A Thai deep tissue massage involves the giver using hands, knuckles, feet, heels, elbows, etc. to really work deep into the muscles and release tension. Whatever type of massage you get, it is extremely important to disclose any information regarding your pain and diagnosis to your therapist.

There are other methods of healing a spinal stenosis that are more invasive than massage. This includes an epidural, which involves putting steroids into the spine though a needle.  An epidural does relieve a lot of tension off the back and surrounding muscles, but it is invasive. Also surgery is often used to treat spinal stenosis. Spinal surgery does have risks, but sometimes it is inevitable in severe cases.

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The Best Foot Massage Techniques

The feet are very unique body parts to massage because they are very tough yet very sensitive.  They hold the weight of the body throughout the day, using small muscles repeatedly to help you walk, run, jump, kick, and balance. They also have a lot of nerves that can trigger physical effects throughout the body.  Based on Eastern forms of therapy and Reflexology techniques, the different parts of the feet represent major parts throughout the body including the head, major organs, and other parts that help your body function. Massaging the feet can often help relieve tension or pain in the other parts of the body.  If done correctly, you could technically “kill multiple birds with one stone” just by massaging the feet.

In Reflexology and Acupuncture, there are graphs that show the bottom of the feet and have the various parts of the feet (for example toes, heels, and arch) that are believed to be connected to major parts of the body.  When these areas are given physical attention by gently rubbing and applying pressure, often the areas they connect to will benefit.  Many times sore parts of the feet are not directly caused by over exertion but rather are signals telling you that there is something wrong with say, your spleen, kidneys, or intestines.

When massaging your own feet or the feet of someone else it is best to use lotion or oils because the skin of feet is often callused or cracked and the friction will cause pain instead of relief. Also, it can help to work from the top down, starting at the ankles and working your way down to the toes so that you do not miss any part.

Rolling or rotating motions work well with the feet because it is a good way to loosen up the ankle and toes.  You want to be careful you do not rotate any part of the foot too quickly because it could easily injure the area, and you want to be sure that you rotate in both directions. When rotating the toes, you want to hold the toe at the base (the closest part to the foot) and gently turn it both directions.  You also want to make sure you do each toe individually rather than grabbing them by the handful and squishing them together.

Another important technique is rubbing with idea of spreading the muscles apart.  by starting at the heal and gently applying pressure along the soul of the arch towards the ball of the foot you can increase energy flow and circulation in the feet. This automatically allows for healing in the pressure points connected to the rest of the body. Also, you can spread the toes apart while gently rubbing in between the toes to allow for space in those small crevices.

When massaging the foot, it is also extremely important to apply the right amount of pressure.  You definitely do not want to barely touch the skin because feet are ticklish. No one wants to be tickled during a massage because tickling does not induce relaxation.  However, you do not want to press too firmly because it could cause pain not only in the foot but perhaps in other part of the body if a pressure point is over worked.

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Slipped Disc Treatment- Can Massage Help?

Slipped discs are not to be handled lightly. A slipped disc is a painful injury that happens along the spine, mostly in the lower back or neck region.  In between each vertebrae, there are gel-like cushions in the shape of a record or CD, hence the name disc.  These gel discs act as shock absorbents for the spine as the human body moves through any physical activity including running, walking, bending, or lifting weight. There are different injuries that can occur to these discs if a person does not take care of their posture, weight, or muscle strength as they move throughout the day.

A slipped disc, or herniated disc, is one of the major injuries a spine can endure.  Each disc in the spine is enclosed in a hard cartilage that keeps the soft gel in place, allowing the hard vertebrae bones and soft discs to be stacked on top of each other.  Sometimes that hard cartilage will crack or degenerate, which can cause some of the soft gel of the disc to “slip” or push out from the weight of the body putting pressure against the spine. Once the disc begins to push out of place, it can place pressure against the thousands of nerves along the spine and the muscles around the area often spasm.

A herniated disc needs to be taken care of immediately.  If a slipped disc occurs, you must rest for at least four weeks, or follow any directions by a doctor.  Sometimes if a protruding disc is not cared for instantly, greater measures must be taken including surgery, which is the last option you want to take because there are so many risks involved in spinal surgery. If you do get instant care from a doctor, they will often suggest resting for an extended period of time along with taking an anti-inflammatory medication like Motrin or Tylenol.

Massage can be a form of therapy for a slipped disc.  Herniated disc treatment is often referred to physical therapy where a physical therapist will work specific exercises with the patient and sometimes massages the sore muscles.  It is important if you have a herniated disc to talk to a doctor before receiving any sort of therapy.  If the slipped disc is not too serious the doctor might suggest easy stretches or even massage.

It is very imperative that if you do get massage therapy for your slipped disc that you inform the massage therapist of your condition because you do not want them to push too hard around the disc.  If they apply too much pressure on or around the disc the surrounding muscles could spasm even more or pinch nerves that could force the disc to protrude even more.  This could turn a small physical problem into a very fragile, serious one.  However, if you do communicate the severity of your spine’s condition with your massage therapist you could easily relieve a lot of the pain from a gentle massage around the muscles.

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Acupuncture and Fertility: Can it help?

Acupuncture is often a resource for women who are battling infertility problems. Acupuncture is an ancient Eastern medicine that originated in China and is still used in modern times as a form of healing and balance.  It is often categorized as a form of therapy because it works through the channels or meridians of the body in order to ease the natural flow of circulation, lessen pain in muscles, and aid major organs.  Acupuncture for fertility uses extremely small needles that are inserted in the skin at specific pressure points that when activated can release tension.

So how can this treat infertility? Infertility, defined by the American Infertility Society, is considered to be present in a couple who have been regularly having sex for a year without contraception and do not conceive.

So how can acupuncture help treat infertility cases? Acupuncture works by placing these small needles into specific points on the body to increase balance and regulation as your body functions.  If Acupuncture can help major areas of the body to function more efficiently then in can boost fertility.  Also, it can help other modern techniques like In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, to be more accurate and have statistically higher results.  There have been studies of women who have received Acupuncture prior to and following an IVF treatment and the amount of pregnancies was higher in that group in comparison to the group of women who did not receive acupuncture.

It also helps women who are not using IVF because Acupuncture can stimulate the growth and release of a woman’s egg through ovulation.  By focusing on the specific points of the body that increase energy flow in the reproductive area, an Acupuncturist can potentially increase the odds of a woman’s ability to conceive.  However, Acupuncture does not increase the growth and release of multiple eggs so it is not considered an adequate substitute for fertilization drugs.

It is very important that a woman who seeks aid through Acupuncture finds and Acupuncturist  who specializes in prenatal care and fertility.  This is important because if you are pregnant, especially in the first twelve weeks, the chances of miscarriage is much higher than later in the pregnancy.  An incorrect Acupuncture treatment could cause you to miscarry if a needle is inserted into the wrong energy point.

Acupuncture is a painless procedure with endless benefits.  Many people in the Western societies become fearful of needles being used to help the body.  Needles are generally associated with pain, blood, and side affects including bruising so many people do not want to believe that Acupuncture can be a good thing.  The needles used in Acupuncture are much smaller than your average syringe or sewing needle and they are not place extremely deep within your body.  A lot of people that receive Acupuncture do not even feel them being positioned in their pressure points, but rather feel their long term affects on their muscles, organs, and energy.

If you are someone or know someone who is going through difficulties conceiving, then it is best that you consider all your options.  Acupuncture is a safe, quick, and easy way to increase your chances of conceiving and carrying your fetus full term.

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Pediatric Physical Therapy Exercises

Physical therapy is not just for adults that have been through physical traumas but it can be for anyone needing a little extra help in developing strength in muscles and motor skills, including children as young as infancy.  This is called pediatric physical therapy- where children receive the benefits of physical therapy from a train professional.  This is a specialized form of physical therapy because children grow and develop in a completely different way from adults.  The physical therapists that specialize in pediatrics are trained to work with children and families in order to help each children develop to their full potential.

The exercises are similar to the ones used in adult physical therapy, but they are catered to children.  In other words, the exercises are meant to be fun activities for the children as opposed to a physical work out or training session.  There are lower body exercises as well as upper body exercises. Most of the work outs involve colors, shapes, and rewards in order to keep some focus.

Many parents will ask “what type of exercises will my child do?” It depends on the disabilities your child might have. If your child has mental barriers the exercises will be mild and focus on minimal motor skills like moving one item to another place.  There is plenty of repetition, so fun items are used like colorful balls, rings, or blocks to keep the child interested.  If your child is mentally capable of understanding but has trouble with moving a certain way larger motor skill work outs will be used.  For instance, practicing stair climbing, jumping, throwing, and moving the legs in a controlled fashion (with the use of many props) could be seen as typical pediatric physical therapy exercises.

All children ages zero to twenty-one that are eligible have the right to seek and utilize physical therapy.  A pediatric physical therapist has the goal to promote independence, strength, and social skills through working with each patient. Some physical therapists might teach their patients to learn skills that will help them use equipment effectively, play with toys, discover any needs the child might need physically and mentally, ease the transition from childhood to adult life, or expand mobility.

If you are curious where to find a physical therapist for your child, it is best to stick with the specialists. Contact your nearest hospital to see if they have a rehabilitation center and if so, if they have a physical therapist that specializes in children.  It is also easy to locate one through extensive internet search.

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Education Required for Physical Therapy

What is physical therapy? How do I become a physical therapist? is the medical field what I want to spend my time working for? If you are considering these questions, it might be a sign that you should look into the medical field, primarily focusing on physical therapy.

There are different degrees along with various programs associated with physical therapy.  There are PT’s or Physical Therapists, and PTA’s or Physical Therapy Assistants.  In order to become a physical therapist, there are specific accredited programs that offer the degree as a masters (MS, MPT, or MPST) or a doctorate (DPT).  These programs are only offered to those working towards receiving or have already received a bachelors degree.

There are many different programs offered throughout the United States.  It is not difficult to find a program and get accepted by working hard at the undergraduate program.  Once a person is accepted in a PT program, there are specific courses they must take in order to complete their requirements.  The courses include (but are not subjected to) anatomy, physiology, psychology, physics, biology, English, humanities, and other courses related towards the field.

Once they finish all that is needed, there is a state board exam that each graduate needs to pass in order to work legally as a physical therapist at a hospital or rehabilitation center. Each state requires each graduate to take a national exam before entering the work force.  However, each program varies from state to state and the curriculum changes based on what state each student lives in, so it is wise to complete schooling in one state in order to avoid taking unnecessary classes and wasting money.  Once the general classes (ie English, psychology, etc) are taken and an individual is accepted into a program, they will then be required to take an pass specific courses dedicated to the theory and practice of physical therapy. In the programs students are also able to and required to do “hands on” education, which involves leaving the classroom and working with actual patients in a clinical environment.

There are many schools that offer physical therapy programs in each state.  Once the program is completed and the national test is passed, there are many jobs in the field of physical therapy.  There are physical therapy assistants that basically aids a physical therapist as they work with patients.  The PT might request the assistant to work basic exercises with various patients in order to improve mobility and over all health. Then there are physical therapists that work with a wide variety of patients ranging from stroke patients, individuals who have been in car accidents, people with arthritis, low back issues, head injuries, people with cerebral palsy, and others in need of physical therapy.

Physical therapists and their assistants usually work in hospitals and rehabilitation centers. Their are some that work in gyms or with chiropractors but the majority of jobs will be found through the medical community. Their goal is to provide each patient with techniques that will help their mobility and strength in order to move freely without pain and eventually do it on their own.

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Spotlight on Chicago’s Heavenly Massage

While the Windy City is known for being the home of Obama, La La Palooza, and of course, Oprah, an unknown fact for many visitors is its dedication to the health and well being of each individual through the art of massage.  Heavenly Massage is a chain of massage spas in Illinois, and has two locations in the heart of Chicago. Heavenly strives to live up to its name by being just that- a heavenly place to turn to in the heat and bustle of a rambling city. They strive to bring relaxation and comfort to all their clients through not only massage, but other spa related indulgences as well.

Heavenly Massage differs from other competitors such as Massage Envy and Elements Therapeutic Massage because it offers more than just massage therapy.  It also offers chiropractic work, manicures, pedicures, hot stone massage, body waxing, body treatments, and skin care products.  These benefits are usually hard to find at the “chain” style of massage locations and are often only offered at private spas and hidden retreats.

Heavenly also is different from the other competitors because it does not have locations outside Illinois.  It is not as widely known, however, their service is rated three out of five stars at three different locations throughout the state (none of which are Chicago).

Heavenly massage is a great gift for friends or family because of all they offer.  You can purchase a gift of a massage for your sister while you enjoy a manicure as you wait.  Or you can indulge in a couples massage that will surely bring you closer to your partner.  Heavenly offers a wide array of massage styles including the Swedish, deep tissue, pre and post natal, hot stone, and aromatherapy. It even offers massages that focus on specific parts of the body, like the back, neck, and shoulders massage that gives full attention to the muscles directly affected by the spine, or the lymphatic drainage massage, which focuses on using rhythmic strokes to encourage lymphatic flow. There are also what they call “healing” massages which include a sauna massage, reiki, and reflexology.

Heavenly massage is great for the special offers they give such as Bridal showers or parties, corporate events, and discounts on different massages at any given time. Heavenly is the place to be for all your spa related needs including relaxation, tension release, and over all feeling better about yourself no matter if you got a massage, manicure, facial, or any other treatment they offer in the heart of the Windy City.

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What An Elements Massage Can Do For You

Elements Therapeutic Massage is a massage therapy company that is provided in multiple locations across the United States.  This chain is similar to Massage Envy in that it is a mini spa dedicated to giving each customer restorative attention through the art of massage.  Not all the states have Elements, but over half do including California, New York, Texas, Florida, Nevada, and Washington.

Elements is of the belief that a therapeutic massage is the best kind of massage anyone could receive.  The feel that their mission to give each customer a therapeutic experience is what sets them apart from other competitors such as Massage Envy. Their goal is to promote each individuals well being and health through relief of stress, pain, and tension.  They also suggest that each person comes in with a slight amount of knowledge of their bodies and can either determine what style of massage is best for them or at least consider the amount of pressure that is right for their bodies.

Elements is pretty comparable in price against other competitors. Their first massage is roughly around fifty dollars and stay under one-hundred dollars depending on what type of package or gift card you purchase.  They also have a month-to-month program that will save a client on every massage if they sign up and become regular members.

Although Elements is devoted to bringing balance to each individual, it is not quite as large as some of its competitors, so it is only delivering services to a small amount of the population.  In most states there are only one or two locations (if any) and in only a few states there are no more than seven (which is Texas, one of the largest states).  It is a franchise business, so there is potential for growth and popularity.

Even though there are not many locations spread across the nation, the reviews online expose Elements as a sanctuary of massage and relaxation.  It rates five stars on Boston’s CitySearch and four stars on Seattle’s Yelp. All the customers seemed to have excellent service from the minute they enter and speak with the friendly receptionist to the end of the massage where they leave feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and comfortable with their experience.  These are important qualities to leave a spa with because if there is any discomfort it can easily deter a person from ever going anywhere and getting massaged.  The first time experience is crucial because letting go of control and putting your body in the hands of a total stranger is very difficult to do within the American society, so it is very impressive that Elements Therapeutic Massage is rated so high on many reviews.

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