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Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD
Massage Therapists & The Bag of Tricks
Harris Whole Health
. http://www.harriswholehealth.com/

Massage Therapists & The Bag of Tricks

People often think of massage as simply getting a rub down. While massage can be light and relaxing, it really is so much more. It is important for people to realize that not all massages are the same. In order to create a unique experience there are many different modalities that can be used when executing a massage, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy and myofascial release.
Just as a magician has a bag of tricks, massage therapists generally have a bag of tricks from which they select the appropriate modalities, depending on the clients individual needs. Below are some of the modalities that can be used to assist clients in maintaining their wellness.
The Swedish massage uses long strokes, which promote relaxation, increase circulation, and assist in the movement of lymphatic fluid. It uses these long strokes and kneading of the outer layers of tissue to reduce stress and soothe sore joints and muscles. This type of massage relaxes the nervous system and aids in circulation, which helps with detoxification. The Swedish massage has different pressure types light, medium and deep, which are used while massaging the entire body.
The deep tissue massage is when the therapist focuses their efforts on one muscle group at a time. Often, this can take up to an hour of just working on a single muscle group. Deep tissue massage is geared toward releasing adhesions and increasing mobility. This technique, which uses short strokes and powerful pressure, targets the bodys deepest layers of muscle and releases tension in over-stressed areas.
With trigger point therapy, the therapist creates deep pressure on specific points, which addresses referred pain and helps release adhesions. People can have different types of trigger points. Some can have active trigger points, meaning that the person experiences pain directly on a specific area; while some may have latent trigger points, meaning they have no pain until the therapist applies pressure to the area. There are also trigger points that refer pain to other areas of the body.
Myofascial release uses a very slow, broad touch, which helps to unwind the fascial layers in the body. As a form of stretching, myofascial release is ideal for chronic injuries, specifically in the lumbar and cervical areas of the spine. This technique is usually very effective when used in conjunction with other modalities.
When experiencing trauma or long-term chronic pain, the fascia which surrounds the muscle becomes rigid and tight, usually causing more pain and limiting the range of motion. Myofascial techniques help stretch and loosen the fascia, which not only reduces pain and restores range of motion, but also makes the muscle more receptive to treatment.
These are just a few of the modalities that can be used to create an effective massage treatment. It is important to realize that a combination of techniques may bring a more effective treatment over a single technique and that a therapist who has a large bag of tricks will be able to offer a wider variety of solutions to best satisfy clients needs.

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