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Massage Therapy


A massage can be a wonderfully relaxing way to release tension and improve overall well-being. There are several different healing therapies which use massage techniques, from basic stroking to reflexology, but all of them use the hands to provide relief and healing. A massage can be relaxing or stimulating, depending on the condition you wish to relieve.

A massage can be a wonderfully relaxing way to release tension and improve overall well-being. There are several different healing therapies which use massage techniques, from basic stroking to reflexology, but all of them use the hands to provide relief and healing.

A massage can be relaxing or stimulating, depending on the condition you wish to relieve. In a relaxing massage, breathing becomes easier as your muscles relax, relieving respiratory conditions such as asthma and emphysema, calming and balancing the nervous system, and improving sleep quality. A stimulating massage in-creases oxygen to the skin and muscles, prevents illness by boosting the immune system, and also improves the circulatory system of both the lymph and blood vessels, which supply tissues with replenishing nutrients. Metabolic by-products are more actively re-moved through the improved detoxifying action of the skin, keeping the tissues young and healthy. Massage therapies work well in conjunction with other natural healing remedies, such as homeopathy, nutrition and dietary supplements.

Rest lying down for fifteen to thirty minutes after any massage therapy to allow the stimulated energy flow to act on rebuilding the body. Avoid alcohol or smoking before or after massage, and never receive massage in a state of stress, conflict or noise as it will not be effective. If you are suffering with a cold or fever, injury or inflammation, postpone massage until you are well. Ensure the room is comfortably warm and quiet. Turn off the telephone. Think positive thoughts during the massage and concentrate on getting healthy. Close your eyes for better concentration.

Swedish Massage at Home

For simple complaints like headaches and tense muscles, a relaxing or stimulating massage can be a quick and effective method of relieving pain and easing the aches associated with various illnesses and aging. Gentle, stroking techniques are particularly helpful for senior citizens and those suffering from osteoporosis, where the bones are more brittle and can break from very little pressure. Chronic back and neck pain are often associated with muscle spasms, which over time result in hard, fibrous tissue that is difficult to break down. Abdominal massage, especially when combined with exercises, can help remedy infant colic, menstrual discomfort and constipation. Many physical and structural problems can be improved by massage, including carpal tunnel syndrome, spinal curvatures and jaw problems. Athletes also use massage to increase mobility, prevent injury, and combat muscle soreness and fatigue. Massaging sore feet is a self-treatment that can rejuvenate the whole body. Babies particularly love to be touched and pampered. A light massage, with gentle, stroking, clockwise circles is soothing for both parent and child, and strengthens the parent-child bond. Learning massage techniques with a partner can combat the day's stresses, and lead to improved communication. It is also possible to strengthen the vitality and endurance of a person through massage. This applies not only to work and sports, but also to lovemaking. A set of basic techniques is provided here to get you started.

The person should be covered except for the area you are directly working on. If you are working with a table, make sure the height is adequate. A thick floor pad will also do (though a mattress may be too soft); the massager then works from a kneeling position on the floor. If you are the massager, you want to be as comfortable as possible and be able to use the weight of your body for massaging. If you just use your arms, you will wear yourself out quickly. Make sure your fingernails are short so they do not hurt the skin. Provide a pillow for the comfort of the massage recipient, lying it under the stomach or ankles for support. If the person lies on his or her back, the pillow should be placed beneath the knees. When you start, rub a little oil into your hands to warm it, and then massage the oil into the skin. You can add more oil as you need it, only a little at a time. Apply essential oils such as eucalyptus or peppermint to enhance skin circulation, relieve spasms and make the skin supple.

Three basic techniques for make up the traditional Swedish massage. To start, make long strokes, using the surface of the palms. This technique does not dig deeply into the individual muscles, but is an ideal beginning because it allows the recipient and therapist to become familiar with one another. Stroking is often used between techniques, as a means of keeping contact between massager and recipient. It is important to maintain skin contact at all times during the massage. Stroking also is an ideal way to end the session.

Kneading is a much deeper technique. Take a roll of skin and muscle into the hands and then move the thumbs along, putting pressure on the muscles. An alternative is to take a roll with one hand, then as you let go, take another roll with the other hand, moving systematically across the skin. Take care not to pinch the skin or work too vigorously, as this will leave both the recipient and massager exhausted.

A third technique is a hacking motion, a fast movement made with the edges of the hands which fall upon the body one right after the other. The wrists should be loose and the hacking done lightly, so as to leave the muscles invigorated and not pounded. This is an excellent way to lead up to the end of a massage.

Visiting a Massage Therapist

Some people visit a massage therapist for the relaxing environment and pampering they receive, knowing that it will also benefit their health. Combined with an afternoon in the sauna, a massage can be an ideal way to combat the effects of a stressful lifestyle. Others use massage therapy to treat a specific physical ailment. In either case, a massage can be a truly wonderful experience.

Soreness after treatment may develop; how long it lasts depends on the patient's tissue condition. Working through muscle knots can cause some mild discomfort, but you typically feel wonderful after a massage.

Today, massage therapy is a professional, therapeutic healing technique. Registered massage therapists honor a strict ethical code and work with a high degree of knowledge and professionalism. You should always feel comfortable and confident when visiting a massage therapist.

Manual Lymph Drainage

Manual lymph drainage was designed by the physical therapists, Emil and Estrid Vodder in France in the 1930s. It is a specific type of massage that acts primarily to stimulate and promote the flow of lymph fluid. The lymph vessels are transportation systems similar to blood vessels. Their main function is to remove accumulated waste and supply the tissues with white blood cells. When the flow of lymph becomes congested, an excess of water, fluid in the tissues, or edema, results. With the congestion and swelling, the proper repair of tissue and removal of tissue waste are impaired.

Many people with health problems can benefit from manual lymph drainage. It not only restores the flow of lymph fluid in most cases of edema, but is also particularly effective in cases where lymph glands have been removed as an extra precaution in conventional cancer treatment, especially with breast cancer. In cases of injury, bruising or repetitive strain, manual lymph drainage can reduce pain and promote healing by restoring and stimulating lymph flow. It also provides relief of varicose veins, leg ulcers, arthritis, sinus problems, skin problems and burns, and can prevent scarring. With long-term treatment, manual lymph drainage can be used to soften scar tissue and restore tissue elasticity.

Manual lymph drainage works with the application of firm pressure and regular strokes against the skin and underlying tissue. By pressing the swollen tissue and pushing the lymph fluid toward the lymph glands and finally out into the bloodstream, congestion is relieved and the normal flow of lymph fluid restored. Manual lymph drainage can be applied to virtually any part of the body, including the face. Depending on the cause and severity of the problem, manual lymph drainage will need to be repeated at certain intervals.

To correctly perform manual lymph drainage, a therapist must follow the direction of lymph flow to empty and not further congest an area. The therapist must be sufficiently trained to recognize potential problems and to perform the technique correctly.

You can take some preventative steps to support your lymph vessel system and combat swelling. If you suffer from swollen feet and ankles, keep them raised and stroke them toward the body. Avoid standing completely still for any period. If you are troubled by facial swelling, a cosmetician can suggest simple techniques to massage the face and support the lymph system. Although any physical activity supports the flow of lymph fluid, rebounding on a mini trampoline is a particularly healthy form of activity as it stimulates the lymphatic system.



Your winter wellness game plan

Your winter wellness game plan

Stay healthful when the weather outside is frightful

Joshua Duvauchelle

Joshua Duvauchelle