Deep tissue massage is used to target specific areas of hypertonicity and release chronic muscle pain. Other benefits include reducing inflammation and helping to eliminate scar tissue. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons, and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints).
Deep tissue massage uses strokes across the grain of the muscles, not with the grain as in Swedish massage. The more intense movements and techniques such as deep finger pressure may be slightly uncomfortable and cause soreness that lasts a couple of days before resulting in the desired relaxation and pain relief.
Sports massage is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. The massage is specific to the athlete’s sport of choice and is often focused on a particular troublesome area like the hip, knee or shoulder. Aspects of massage are gaining popularity as useful components in a balanced training regimen.
Sports massage can be used as a means to enhance pre-event preparation and reduce recovery time for maximum performance during training or after an event. Athletes have discovered that specially designed massage promotes flexibility, removes fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries, and prepares them to compete at their absolute best.
Foot reflexology is a simple, non-invasive method to help balance the body. It has been described as a natural therapy that requires the application of a specific type of pressure on particular areas of the feet. It is based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet which correspond to every part of the body. Reflexology serves to relax, improve circulation and promote general wellness.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), cupping is a method of applying acupressure by creating a vacuum next to the patient's skin. The therapy is used to relieve what is called "stagnation" in TCM terms, and is used in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis. Cupping is also used to treat back, neck, shoulder, and other musculoskeletal pain. Its advocates claim it has other applications as well.
In the late 20th century, cupping has gained a second wind as an alternative treatment for a variety of ailments.
Cranial sacral therapy (also known as craniosacral therapy) is a gentle, noninvasive form of alternative medicine that deals with the movement of the fluid surrounding the skull and spine. Cranial sacral therapists ease the restrictions of nerve passages by focusing on the membranes that encase the central nervous system.
Cranial sacral therapy seeks to restore misaligned bones to their proper position and is thought to eliminate the negative effects of stress as well as provide relief from migraine headaches, neck and back pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (the inflammation of the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull) and more.
A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body. A trigger point in the back, for example, may trigger pain in the neck. The neck, now acting as a satellite trigger point, may then cause pain in the head. The pain may be sharp and intense or a dull ache. Trigger points are caused by muscle overuse or injury, and because the aches are associated with moving parts, the pain is commonly mistaken for arthritis.
Trigger point massage (also known as myotherapy) is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.
The result of trigger point massage is the elimination of toxins in the muscles and the release of energizing endorphins. A significant decrease in pain is often found after just one treatment.
Swedish massage is the style that comes to mind when most people think about massage. It was developed in Stockholm a couple of centuries ago and is the most common and best-known type form of bodywork performed today.
The goal is relaxing the entire body and this is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. Additional techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Lotion is often used to reduce friction and stimulate the skin.
Swedish massage is exceptional for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.