Feb 052002

Massage therapy is one of the fastest growing medical treatments available; it is quickly moving out of the realm of alternative medicine, and is being incorporated into mainstream medical practices. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, true massage involves the practitioner applying manual pressure techniques “with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client.”

Massage has been used to treat illnesses since ancient times. The earliest records date back 3,000 years to Chinese folk medicine, while it is also thought that the Shiatsu, acupressure and reflexology methods are derived from the ancient Ayurvedic medicine of India.

Western civilizations have therapeutic massage practices dating back to ancient Greek and Roman physicians. The most popular form of massage, Swedish, was developed by Peter Henrik Ling, a 19th Century Swedish athlete, who first combined hands-on techniques with both active and passive movements.

Here is a brief overview of the most common forms of massage therapy:

Cranial-Sacral /_” this method involves finding and correcting cerebral and spinal imbalances or blockages that may cause sensory, motor or intellectual dysfunction.

Deep Tissue /_” this massage is intended to release chronic tensions in the body through the use of slow strokes and deep finger pressure that focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue.

On-Site Massage /_” these massages are much shorter than a standard massage, usually only lasting for 15-30 minutes. In this instance, the client remains clothed, and is seated in a specially designed chair. Often, employers will bring massage therapists into the company, in order to increase employee efficiency.

Reflexology /_” this massage is based around a system of points in the hands and feet that correspond, or “reflex,” to all other areas of the body.

Rosen Method /_” this method combines gentle touch with verbal communication, in an attempt to help clients release suppressed emotions and muscle tensions.

Shiatsu and Acupressure /_” these Oriental-based systems use finger pressure to treat special points along the acupuncture “meridians” – invisible channels of energy flow throughout the body.

Sports Massage /_” these massages focus on muscle systems relevant to a particular sport.

Swedish /_” the most popular form of massage therapy, Swedish massages incorporate long strokes with kneading and friction on the surface muscles and active and passive movements of the joints.

Neuromuscular /_” this method uses concentrated finger pressure to treat “trigger points”, which are painful, irritated areas in the muscles, in order to break chronic pain, or spasm cycles.

For more information about massage therapy practices, visit the American Massage Therapy Association, at www.amtamassage.org n

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