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Touch is one of our five senses and allows us to connect and communicate with the people and the world around us.
Touch is one of our five senses and allows us to connect and communicate with the people and the world around us. Studies have found that we have a deep, natural need for touch, and that touch is extremely important for our physical and emotional health. While many western societies have developed a negative reaction toward physical contact, or wrongly associate any type of touch with sex, in most other cultures touching is acceptable and people hug, hold hands and kiss more often. Touching includes massage, a non-invasive alternative therapy which is used to manage stress and to treat pain and other ailments. What is more important is that massage is a preventative treatment that keeps us healthy.
Therapeutic Massage is the manipulation of the muscles and tissues of the body through hand application. It is used for relaxation and for treating health conditions such as back pain, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendinitis, muscle spasms, strains and sprains, carpal tunnel syndrome and other injuries caused by repetitive motion, circulatory and respiratory problems and for post-injury and post-surgical rehabilitation. Also, massage is used to controls stress and to release toxins from the body and there is evidence that it strengthens the immune system.
Types of Massage
There are many different types of massage, each using different techniques or a combination of techniques and only a few types of massage use oils or tools. The most well known types of massage is Shiatsu, Thai massage, Swedish, Deep Tissue and Reflexology. Different techniques have been combined or adapted for the development of other forms of massage that are designed to treat specific areas of the body (head massage and back massage), additional forms of massage (hot-stone massage), or forms of massage that is appropriate for specific groups such as sports massage, geriatric massage, massage for babies and pregnant women and chair/ seated massage.
Shiatsu (the Japanese word for finger pressure) is also known as acupressure and is founded on the Chinese system of meridians. Pressure is applied with the thumbs, fingers, and palms to areas of the body that have been pre-determined during the client’s health needs assessment session. Shiatsu uses techniques such as tapping, squeezing, rubbing, and pressure that is applied along the meridians to unblock energy blockages. Shiatsu relaxes the muscles and tissues, reduces and manages stress, releases toxins from the body, increases flexibility, improves blood circulations and drops blood pressure, and it reduces mental anxieties. In Shiatsu there is no use of needles, tools or oils, and it is usually done on a futon mattress on the floor. The chair/seated massage uses similar techniques and offers many of the same benefits. It is done in a chair that is specially designed (can also use a regular chair), the client is fully clothed and the massage can be done anywhere.
Thai massage is believed to have been developed in India more than 2,500 years ago and made its way to Thailand where it was originally practiced by monks as a component of Thai Medicine. It is also known as Thai Yoga, because the therapist uses his/her hands, knees, legs and feet to move the person into a series of Yoga-like stretches. It is relaxing and energizing and consists of stretching techniques and gentle pressure along the body’s energy lines. It increases flexibility, relieves muscle and joint tension and balances the energy systems of the body.
Α well know type of massage that was developed in Stockholm a few centuries ago. Its goal is to relax the entire body by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes made in the direction of the returning blood to the heart. Other techniques used in Swedish massage include circular pressure that is applied by hands and palms, kneading, percussion, stretching and bending. Swedish massage increases the level of oxygen in the blood, relieves muscles of toxins, improves blood circulation and releases tension.
Deep Tissue Massage
Τhe techniques used are similar to the techniques of Swedish massage. It focuses on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, the tendons and fascia (the thin protective layer of tissue surrounding muscles, joints and bones). It targets knots and releases chronic muscle tension, reduces inflammation and eliminates scar tissue. Deep strokes are used and pressure is applied with the fingers. The techniques cause pain for a few days after the massage.
Reflexology, or Foot Massage is a branch of Thai massage and involves techniques of light pressure that is applied with the fingers, hands and a wooden stick-shaped rod. It targets specific points on the feet to send signals to the brain in order to balance the nervous system, and it uses pressure that is applied on reflex areas that correspond to specific organs and other parts of the body. It reduces stress, and it is used to treat headaches, arthritis, digestive problems and back pain.
Sports massage is geared toward athletes, and its features are specific to each individual sport. Often the therapy focuses in a particular area where there is a problem, such as shoulder or knee. It promotes flexibility, removes fatigue, improves endurance and helps to prevent injuries.
Hot Stone massage
Before hot stones were adopted by alternative medicine therapist as a complementary massage treatment, hot stones were originally used by Native Americans to treat muscle pain. Hot Stone massage involves the use of smooth, heated stones (usually basalt) that are placed on the body to help the client relax and to warm up tight muscles so it prepares them for the (Swedish) massage. Because the stones are very hot, stone massage requires a lot of skill on the part of the therapist. During the massage, the stones are placed along the spine, in the palms of the hand, or the belly of the client to improve the flow of energy. The hot stone massage is unsuitable for people with blood pressure, heart disease, people who have diabetes for pregnant women and women during their menopause.
Spa & Massage Signature 4-Handed Massage
The Spa & Massage Signature 4-Handed Massage can be Thai or Swedish type, deep tissue or aromatherapy type massage type. It is delivered by two therapists and is extremely relaxing.
Reflexology uses specifically targeted points on the extremities to send signals to the brain and balance the nervous system. A reflexologist stretches and moves the feet and legs, applying pressure on reflex areas that correspond to specific organs and other parts of the body. Endorphins are released throughout the entire body, reducing stress and returning the body to equilibrium. Reflexology has been known to provide relief from ailments such as tension headaches, arthritis, digestive issues and back pain.
Who shouldn’t get a Massage
All therapists/practitioners conduct a preliminary assessment to identify the problem area and to determine whether the client can be treated. Massage should not be done directly over bruises, a skin inflammation, wounds that have not healed completely, over tumours, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures. Also, massage should not be done immediately after chemotherapy or immediately after surgery. Massage is not recommended for people who have an infectious skin disease like a skin rash, or an open oozing wound, and is not recommended for people who are prone to blood clotting (there is a risk of dislodging a blood clot). Pregnant women should always consult their doctor before having a massage, which should only be done by a therapist who is certified as a pregnancy masseuse.
How often should you get a massage?
You can have relaxation massage once a month for an hour, or as often as you like. For injuries and chronic conditions such as headaches and back pain, more frequent, short treatments are required. Keep in mind that the longer the condition has been a problem, the more treatment you need. Remember, however, that if a treatment does not help your situation, it is time to stop, seek another therapist and try another treatment.
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