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Discover Massage

Posted Mar 30 2009 3:52pm
Common Massage Modalities

According to Wikipedia, there are over 80 different recognized massage modalities and the most cited reasons for introducing massage as therapy are client demand and perceived clinical effectiveness.

The more popular kinds of massage therapy that has been proven beneficial are:

Swedish massage is basic relaxing, “feel good” or gentle massage that uses long, gliding strokes and kneading and tapping techniques on the top layer of muscles. It may also include moving the primary joints gently to improve range of motion.

Deep tissue massage is more active and intense; the therapist applies slow strokes with fingers, thumbs or elbows, using intense pressure to reach deeper layers of the muscles.

Shiatsu or accupressure is a finger-pressure massage technique, which, like acupuncture, is founded on the Chinese meridan system (pathways of qi or energy). Pressure is applied along the meridans to release energy blockages.
Reflexology or zone therapy is the practice of massaging, squeezing, or pushing on parts of the feet, or sometimes the hands and ears, with the goal of encouraging a beneficial effect on other parts of the body, or to improve general health.
Hilot: The Traditional Filipino Massage

Hilot is the Philippine brand of touch therapy. It uses medium to deep pressure and smooth, flowing strokes to relieve stress and restore the body’s balance. Hilot is based on the ancient Filipino healing technique that uses massage and joint manipulations to help relax stressed muscles. Coconut oil is the common essence that is used by a hilot to warm the imbalance part of the body.

Traditional hilots have been known to manage dislocated and sprained joints. The hilots achieve their skills passed down from one generation to another. Techniques vary by region.

Benefits of Massage

For most adult population who feel some amount of stress in their lives because of the demands of today’s lifestyle or for people who have pushed their bodies to the limit without knowing that this pressure is bound to have some effects on their health, a soothing massage can not only be relaxing but can also be healthy.

The power of massage rejuvenates one’s inner self. It eliminates psychological stresses, anxieties and even depression. It enhances long hours of sleep, improves concentration, good body circulation and lessen fatigue. Massage can also be a powerful ally of health care regimen. Massage can ease tension in the muscles, reduce muscle soreness, cause the body to release natural painkillers, and it may boost the immune system.

According to the website, “in an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself.” So how does massage do wonders to the body? Here are a few documented benefits of massage:

• Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.

• Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders.

• Increases circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ - the skin.

• Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles

• Reduces spasms and cramping

• Increases joint flexibility

• Reduces recovery time, helps prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminates subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.

• Releases endorphins - the body’s natural painkiller - and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.

• Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.

• Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.

• Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication

.• Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range-of-motion

.• Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays.

Medical research also shows that massage during withdrawal from alcohol has benefits when combined with traditional medical treatment by increasing feelings of support, safety and engagement in the therapy. Also, people with HIV who participated in massage studies showed an increased number of natural killer cells, which are thought to defend the body from viral and cancer cells. In cancer treatment, people with cancer who received regularly scheduled massage therapy during treatment reported less anxiety, pain and fatigue.

Moreover, because massage involves direct contact with another person through touch, it can make a person feels cared for. That special attention can improve self-image in people with physical disabilities and terminal illnesses. And using touch to convey caring can help children with severe physical disabilities.

But massage is not for everyone. And for some people it can even be dangerous. The contraindications for massage include deep vein thrombosis, bleeding disorders or taking blood thinners such as Warfarin, damaged blood vessels, weakened bones from cancer, osteoporosis or fractures, burns and fever. Moreover, a doctor’s advise is necessary for pregnant women who want to have a massage.

In general, people who have any concerns of the risk of injury that may result from a massage should talk to a doctor and the professional massage therapist.

Photo by Adell Azuelo

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