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Types of Massage

There are a variety of different styles, types and techniques of massage and bodywork utilized by therapists. Below we have provided a description of some of the different types of massage or bodyworking that may be used during your appointment to address your specific issue and give you back balance and reduce any pain.

Kinesio Taping™

The Kinesio Taping® Method is a definitive rehabilitative taping technique that is designed to facilitate the body’s natural healing process while providing support and stability to muscles and joints without restricting the body’s range of motion as well as providing extended soft tissue manipulation to prolong the benefits of manual therapy administered within the clinical setting. Latex-free and wearable for days at a time, Kinesio® Tex Tape is safe for populations ranging from pediatric to geriatric, and successfully treats a variety of orthopedic, neuromuscular, neurological and other medical conditions. The Kinesio® Taping Method is a therapeutic taping technique not only offering your patient the support they are looking for, but also rehabilitating the affected condition as well. By targeting different receptors within the somatosensory system, Kinesio® Tex Tape alleviates pain and facilitates lymphatic drainage by microscopically lifting the skin. This lifting affect forms convolutions in the skin thus increasing interstitial space and allowing for a decrease in inflammation of the affected areas.

Based upon years of clinical use, Kinesio® Tex Tape is specifically applied to the patient based upon their needs after evaluation. The findings of the clinical evaluation or assessment dictate the specifics of the Kinesio® Tex Tape application and other possible treatments or modalities. With the utilization of single “I” strips or modifications in the shape of an “X”, “Y” or other specialized shapes as well as the direction and amount of stretch placed on the tape at time of application, Kinesio® Tex Tape can be applied in hundreds of ways and has the ability to re-educate the neuromuscular system, reduce pain and inflammation, enhance performance, prevent injury and promote good circulation and healing, and assist in returning the body to homeostasis.

Myoskeletal Alignment

Well-documented theories explain how joints become fixated from myofascial stressors; yetrelatively unknown in the massage therapy community is how joint dysfunction creates protective muscle spasm and dysfunctional strain patterns, such as forward head postures, slumped shoulders and scoliosis. This reflexogenic relationship between muscles and joints is the foundation of the Myoskeletal Alignment Technique and is considered not only uniquely different from traditional thinking, but possibly an important next step in addressing abnormal strain patterns caused by muscle/joint imbalances.

Massage therapists can now safely address all soft tissues, including ligaments, nerve dura, fasciae, discs and joint capsules, responsible for much of the pain previously blamed on muscles alone. Osteopathic methods, such as muscle energy, strain-counter strain and mechanical link, are also designed to relieve muscle/joint dysfunctions, but the MAT method complements today’s bodywork practices as it was specifically designed to fit a massage-therapy format.One distinguishing goal that establishes the MAT method apart from other techniques is its dependence on identification and correction of joint fixations. This is accomplished by systematically releasing deep spinal muscles, ligaments and fibrotic joint capsules that torsion and compress spinal joints. In some cases, a bodyworker may apply direct pressure to bones to release fibrotic muscles that create joint blockages, but the intent is always soft-tissue work.

Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is a very specialized form of manual therapy. A therapist trained in NMT is educated in the physiology of the nervous system and its effect on the muscular and skeletal systems. The Neuromuscular Therapist also is educated in kinesiology and biomechanics and how to work in a clinical or medical environment.

By definition, Neuromuscular Therapy is the utilization of static pressure on specific myofascial points to relieve pain. This technique manipulates the soft tissue of the body (muscles, tendons and connective tissue) to balance the central nervous system. In a healthy individual, nerves transmit impulses (which are responsible for every movement, function and thought) to the body very slowly. Injury, trauma, postural distortion or stress cause nerves to speed up their transmission, inhibiting equilibrium and making the body vulnerable to pain and dysfunction. It is therefore necessary to stabilize low levels of neurological activity to maintain normal function and overall health.

Neuromuscular Therapy can be used to address five elements that cause pain:

  1. Ischemia: Lack of blood supply to soft tissues which causes hypersensitivity to touch

  2. Trigger Points: Highly irritated points in muscles which refer pain to other parts of the body

  3. Nerve Compression or Entrapment: Pressure on a nerve by soft tissue, cartilage or bone

  4. Postural Distortion: Imbalance of the muscular system resulting from the movement of the body off the longitudinal and horizontal planes

  5. Biomechanical Dysfunction: Imbalance of the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns (i.e., poor lifting habits, bad mechanics in a golf swing of tennis stroke, computer keyboarding)

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep Tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is also not uncommon for receivers of Deep Tissue Massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly. What one calls deep tissue another will call light. When receiving deep tissue work it is important to communicate what you are feeling.[2]

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat somatic dysfunction and accompanying pain and restriction of motion. This is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation, increasing venous and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia.[2]

Sports Massage

Sports massage is actually a form of Swedish massage that is delivered to athletes. Most commonly, sports massage focuses on increasing blood and lymphatic fluid flow, reducing and eliminating pain as well as tender trigger points, and increasing range of motion of the affected area. Sports massages can be broken into 4 distinct types - the pre-event sports massage, the post-event sports massage, the restorative sports massage and the rehabilitative sports massage. As the names indicate, each type of sports massage has a different focus for the athlete as they are delivered at different times during their training and performance schedule.[1]

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage uses five styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks. It has also been shown to be helpful in individuals with poor circulation. The development of Swedish massage is credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes. The term "Swedish" massage is not really known in the country of Sweden, where it is called "classic massage".[2]

Trigger Point Therapy

Trigger points or trigger sites are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Trigger point practitioners believe that palpable nodules are small contraction knots[ambiguous] and a common cause of pain. Compression of a trigger point may elicit local tenderness, referred pain, or local twitch response. The local twitch response is not the same as a muscle spasm. This is because a muscle spasm refers to the entire muscle entirely contracting whereas the local twitch response also refers to the entire muscle but only involves a small twitch, no contraction. The trigger point model states that unexplained pain frequently radiates from these points of local tenderness to broader areas, sometimes distant from the trigger point itself. Practitioners claim to have identified reliable referred pain patterns, allowing practitioners to associate pain in one location with trigger points elsewhere.[2]

Many physicians suggest using massage therapy as a complement to cancer treatment. Considered helpful in decreasing the stress and anxiety associated with cancer, massage therapy is also recommended as a means of easing cancer-related pain.

Although massage is typically administered by licensed massage therapists, caregivers can also be trained in certain massage techniques.

Massage for Cancer Patients

While there's no evidence that massage therapy can stop cancer's growth or spread, a number of studies have shown that massage may offer these benefits for people coping with cancer:

1) Better Quality of Life

After receiving one 30-minute massage a week for three consecutive weeks, participants in a 2009 study (all of whom were undergoing breast cancer treatment) reported improvements in quality of life and functioning. Massage therapy also appeared to help study members sleep better.

2) Anxiety Relief

In a 2004 review of 10 studies on aromatherapy massage, researchers determined that the treatment may help improve psychological wellbeing and lessen anxiety among people with cancer.

3) Stronger Immune System

Massage may boost the number of natural killer cells and lymphocytes (both known to play an important role in immune defense) in women with breast cancer, according to a 2004 study. After receiving half-hour massages three times a week for five weeks, the study members also experienced a decrease in anxiety, depression, and hostility, as well as an increase in levels of dopamine and serotonin (two mood-regulating brain chemicals).

4) Less Pain

In a 2002 study of 41 people undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy, massage was associated with decreased pain (in addition to less anxiety and better sleep quality).

Massage Precautions for People with Cancer

It's critical for people with cancer to consult their physicians before undergoing massage therapy. A few concerns to keep in mind:

  • Massage may be uncomfortable for people who have received radiation therapy.
  • Manipulation of bone in an area of cancer metastasis could cause a fracture.
  • People undergoing chemotherapy may be more vulnerable to bruising.

  • [1] Content Copyright ProfessionalPlanets.com LLC dba MassagePlanet.com
    [2] Content Obtained from Wikipedia.com.