Trigger Point Therapy
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.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massage but is used to target knots and release chronic muscle tension. 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 particulars of the massage are specific to the athlete’s sport of choice and are often focused on a particular troublesome area like a 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.
Reflexology is a branch of massage that focuses solely on the hands and feet. Originally developed as “zone therapy” in the early twentieth century, reflexology uses specifically targeted points on the extremities to send signals to the brain and balance the nervous system.
A reflexologist stretches and moves the hands and feet, applying pressure on reflex areas that correspond to specific organs and other parts of the body. Endorphins are released throughout the entire body, reducing stress and returning the body to equilibrium. Reflexology has been known to provide relief from ailments such as tension headaches, arthritis, digestive issues and back pain.