Massage Therapy – Things to Keep in Mind

Massage is not just about relaxation and working out the kinks in the body – though clinicians do not fully understand the mechanics of massage, the therapeutic impacts of massage are obvious and many.

Massage TherapyMassage can be used for pain reduction, for rehabilitation after a sports injury, it can help control depression and anxiety and reduce stress, reduce chronic neck and lower back pain, and it can increase an overall feeling of wellbeing.

A survey showed that as many as 18 million American adults received some sort of massage therapy in the year 2006 so clearly massage therapy is a popular choice for people.

However the following points should be kept in mind about massage therapy –

  • Discuss with your regular doctor the idea of initiating massage therapy, and take into account any precautions suggested or concerns that he or she may have.
  • Consider the financial implications of the massage therapy – the duration of the therapy and if your insurance covers it.
  • When initiating massage therapy, inform the therapist about any health conditions that you have, medications that you are on, and share all other relevant health related information. In particular if you are on any blood thinning medication, or have a low blood platelet count or a bleeding disorder, tell the therapist about all of this beforehand.
  • Massage is not recommended to be performed on any area of the body with open wounds or scabs, or injury such as a fracture or at the site of a surgical incision. Also if a person has any bone related conditions such as osteoporosis, massage may be inappropriate.
  • Massage is shown to improve well being and lower stress in cancer patients; however massage therapy, particularly deep tissue massage, should be cleared with one’s oncologist.
  • Many pregnancy women may benefit from massage; however the kind of massage that is appropriate during pregnancy may differ from regular methods, so it is best to work with a massage therapist who is experienced in dealing with pregnant women.
  • Consider the kind of certification that the massage therapist has. Some physiotherapists may also be trained in massage. Or the therapist could be certified or licensed as an Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), Licensed Massage Practitioner (LMP), Certified Massage Therapist (CMT), or have passed an exam or received a certification from the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork.
  • It is also prudent to inquire after the amount of experience that a therapist has; particularly in respect of others who have had medical conditions similar to any you may have.
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Foot Massage Techniques – For Yourself or a Partner

There are few if any people who don’t enjoy a good foot massage; which can be relaxing and therapeutic as well as enjoyable. Learning some foot massage techniques can be a good idea since they will enable you to give yourself as well as a partner a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.  The following foot massage techniques can be used to give yourself or someone else a foot massage –

Warm Up

Foot Massage TechniquesFirstly make sure that you or the person who is receiving a foot massage is comfortable so as to get the maximum benefit from the foot massage.

If you are using a lotion or oil for the foot massage make sure that you have enough wipes or towels at hand not to create a mess.

Then take some of the oil or lotion on the hands and rub them together to get the palms warm and ready for the massage.

You can then start by stoking the foot in long firm strokes to stimulate circulation there and to warm up the feet. You should be using a sweeping and rubbing action to help warm up the feet.

Thumb massage

This technique for foot massage is also referred to as ‘thumb walking’ at times, since it uses the thumbs to alternate with one another to create pressure.

The thumb can also be used to slide the length of the foot with firm pressure to relieve stress in the tendons of the foot.

Rotate the ankle

This is one the foot massage techniques that greatly relaxes the foot and works out the kinks to loosen the joints. Hold the ankle with one hand and use the other hand to grasp the ball of the foot to gently rotate the foot in circular motions several times in either direction. This foot massage technique is recommended for those with arthritis.

Toe rotation

Like the ankle rotation, this is also one of the foot massage techniques that help loosen and relax the joints in the foot working out the tension and cramping that long periods inside shoes can cause.

You can rotate the individual toes holding them with the thumb and index finger and also by gently pulling them. This should be done gently and in a way that always falls short of any kind of discomfort.

Massage the arches of the feet

A lot of tension can accumulate in the arches of the feet and concentrating attention there can help to give pleasure and comfort. Using the heel of the hand, apply pressure to this area to release tension.

This helps to release tension in the outer longitudinal as well as the inner arches of the feet. While you should use firm pressure, you should stop short of causing any kind of discomfort.

Foot massage techniques using your fist

Using kneading motions is a very effective foot massage technique, and can be performed much like kneading dough with pressing, rotating motions.

Making a fist of one hand, while using the other hand to keep the foot steady, work the entire area of the soles of the feet, using the knuckles in kneading motions.

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Swedish Massage Techniques – The 5 Steps of Swedish Massage

Swedish massage techniques are different from other massage techniques in that they are quite specific in the order in which the massage is done. These techniques apply deeper pressure than other kind of massages and they are also known to increase oxygenation of blood and release metabolic waste such as lactic and uric acids from the tissues of the muscles.

Swedish Massage TechniquesThis can be particularly important for athletes who find that exercise causes build-up of lactic acids in the muscles, which the massage can dislodge and replace with fresh oxygenated blood.

Swedish massage techniques can help not only relieve physical stress but also emotional stress and can have other medical and therapeutic uses.

Swedish massage is known to help with reducing joint pain and stiffness, and has also been known to help those with osteoarthritis.

Those who undergo this kind of massage also report to enjoying enhanced flexibility. These particular massage techniques are also thought to help improve blood circulation.

Swedish massage is also known as ‘Classic Massage’ in certain areas of the world.

The 5 main Swedish massage techniques as they were developed by Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling, a physical therapist, developer and teacher of medical-gymnastics are –

1. Effleurage

These are the sliding or gliding Swedish massage techniques that cover different areas of the body. They are long sweeping strokes that alternate between firm and light pressure and with can be performed using the palm of the hand or the fingertips. The knots and tension in the muscles tend to get broken with this massage technique.

2. Petrissage

This is the technique of kneading the muscles of the body to attain deeper massage penetration. The thumbs and the knuckles of the fingers are used to knead the muscles of the body and to squeeze them to prepare them for the other Swedish massage techniques that follow.

3. Tapotement or Rhythmic Tapping

This technique of Swedish massage, as the name suggests consists of rhythmic tapping that uses the fists of the cupped hands. This helps to loosen and relax the muscles being manipulated and also helps to energize them. The sides of the hands are used in this massage technique.

4. Friction

This move seeks to create heat to bring about relaxation of the muscles. The palms of the hand are rubbed together vigorously with each other, or they are rubbed onto the skin of the person being massaged in order to produce heat by friction. This technique can be used as a warm up for the muscles of the body to be treated for deeper massage.

5. Vibration or Shaking

This is the one among Swedish massage techniques that helps to loosen up the muscles by using a back and forth action of the fingertips or the heel of the hand over the skin. The muscles of the body are literally shaken up to loosen and relax the muscles. The sides of the hand, and any part of the hand such as the tips or heel can be used by the masseuse to shake up the muscles of the person.

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