Therapeutic massage uses all the benefits of a massage along with the neuromuscular work as explained below. It might also include deep tissue work when restrictions are found a little deeper below the superficial musculature. Therapeutic massage can be useful for anyone with physical or psycho-physiological trauma, for example those doing sports and physical activities, as well as those who have a stressful/inactive job or lifestyle.
Some of the techniques used are as follows:
Muscle Energy Technique: Muscle energy technique (MET) allows either a single muscle or a group of muscles to be contracted against resistance. This enables a state of relaxation to occur (post isometric relaxation) after which the muscle/s can be brought to a new resting length.
Myofascial Release: Myofascial release is a lengthening of the connective tissue. This connective tissue, also known as fascia, is continuous throughout the body and connects all the muscles. If shortened, it can lead to pain and dysfunction.
Positional Release: Positional release entails moving the part of the body where the pain occurs into a position of ease so that neurological resetting can occur. This can lead to a partial or total resolution of the initial problem.
Neuromuscular Technique: Neuromuscular technique (NMT) is both an assessment and a therapeutic tool. One of its aims is to deactivate myofascial trigger points. Trigger points are small, dysfunctional areas within a muscle that can refer pain to other parts of the body.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage need not be painful! This form of massage means looking for restrictions, sometimes found a little deeper below the superficial musculature. Pressure can then be applied which allows the muscle/s to soften. It should not be confused with a deep pressure massage. It could therefore be recommended for those who experience physical discomfort, who have a long-term physical injury, or for those who are involved in heavy physical activity (such as athletes).
Relaxing massage usually entails working with the client on a couch. Each session lasts for one hour, although 30 and 90 minute treatments can be given. The practitioner uses four main techniques or “movements”. These techniques are effleurage (a stroking or gliding movement), petrissage (a picking-up and kneading movement), friction (a pressure application) and tapotement (a percussive or striking movement). Massage is excellent for muscular and physical relaxation, aiding venous return of blood to the heart, improving lymph flow and relieving congestion.
Thai Yoga Massage
Thai yoga massage is practiced on a futon with the client fully clothed – ideally clothes that are loose and baggy in order to allow movement. The massage is founded on the idea of working with the body’s “sen”, or energy pathways, which are similar to the meridians in Chinese medicine. No oil is used during the treatment and the practitioner simply uses hands, forearms or feet to move the energy. The principle is to apply acupressure, stretching and twists to shift energy and bring about a sense of well-being and relaxation. Generally, the practitioner works intensively with the recipient while staying very alert to what their body can and cannot do. This means that the treatment is very much about ensuring that the client is re-balanced in body and spirit.
Each session lasts for 90-minutes although for one hour, and shorter, are also offered.
Thai Foot Massage
Thai foot massage is a relatively new treatment, having been adapted from reflexology and the traditional massage practices of Thailand. It involves light massage as well as applied pressure to the feet and lower legs. The practitioner also uses a small wooden staff to stimulate the reflex points of the feet. Like Thai yoga massage, the client can lie on a futon on the floor. However, unlike Thai yoga massage, the massage can also be done on a couch. Treatments last for one hour, resulting in a stimulating foot massage that promotes overall well being.
Indian Head Massage
Indian head massage lasts for thirty minutes with the client seated and fully clothed. Also known as Champissage, this form of massage was brought to the West by Narendra Mehta in the 1970s. In India, massage has traditionally always be a big part of family life. In the Western world, however, where touch is not quite as acceptable, most people find that one of the first places they experience tension is in their shoulders. Indian head massage recognises this and allows the recipient to relax so that their breathing becomes deeper and more oxygen is supplied to the body. The practitioner starts the massage on the shoulders and goes on to cover the arms, neck, head and face.