Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being. There are dozens of types of massage therapy methods (also called modalities).
Our patients seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons – to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles, rehabilitate injuries, reduce pain, and promote overall health and wellness. The Pain Relief Center offers a complete and comprehensive spectrum of different modalities of massage, including:
Also known as relaxation massage, Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.
*A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.
Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints).
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people’s blood pressure fell after a single 45 to 60 minute deep tissue massage. Additionally, a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage modalities like deep tissue reduce stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.
Sports massage therapy is geared toward athletes of every kind, from world-class professionals to weekend joggers. The particulars of the sports massage technique are specific to the athlete’s sport of choice. Focusing on areas of the body that are overused and stressed from repetitive and often aggressive movements.
Aspects of sports massage therapy are gaining popularity as useful components in a balanced training regimen. Sports massage therapy 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 sports massage promotes flexibility, reduces fatigue, improves endurance, helps prevent injuries and prepares their body and mind for optimal performance.
One of the key benefits of Sports massage therapy compared to other modalities is its ability to target muscle-tendon junctions. A 2010 study in the journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that even a 30-second massage improved hip-flexor range of motion. Another study conducted by Margaret Jones, Ph.D. of the American College of Sports Medicine, demonstrated a notable trend toward decreased muscle soreness in the athletes who received massage either before or after exercise.
For anyone participating in regular physical activity, Sports massage therapy every week or two may be a great addition to your normal regimen. It’s best to talk with one of our professional massage therapists to find a plan that will work best with your schedule, level of activity and budget.
Thai massage is more energizing and rigorous than more classic forms of massage. Thai massage is also called Thai yoga massage, because the therapist uses his or her hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Many people say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work.
Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure are also used during treatment. People describe Thai massage as both relaxing and energizing. Thai massage has its roots in a spiritual tradition, and its purpose is to heal a person physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Shiatsu is a form of therapeutic bodywork from Japan. It uses kneading, pressing, soothing, tapping, and stretching techniques and is performed without oils through light, comfortable clothing.
“Shiatsu” translates as “finger pressure.” There are different styles of Shiatsu, all of which have roots in one of three systems that developed in Japan in the early 1900s as a result of a resurgence of Japan’s traditional medical therapies, including acupuncture and anma massage. Shiatsu developed at this time from the integration of traditional Japanese manual therapies with modern western medical knowledge.
Like acupuncture, shiatsu is based on the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine, where illness is thought to result from imbalances in the natural flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”) through the body. Shiatsu therapists use finger and palm pressure to energetic pathways, called meridians to improve the flow of qi.
A scientific explanation is that shiatsu calms an overactive sympathetic nervous system, which improves circulation, relieves stiff muscles, and alleviates stress. In the U.S., Shiatsu is one of the main therapies within the larger profession of Asian Bodywork Therapy.
Massage therapy during pregnancy is a wonderful complementary choice for prenatal care. It is a healthy way to reduce stress and promote overall wellness. Massage relieves many of the normal discomforts experienced during pregnancy, such as backaches, stiff neck, leg cramps, headaches and edema (or swelling).
In addition, massage for pregnant women reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, encourages blood and lymph circulation, helps to relax nervous tension — which aids in better sleep — and can help relieve depression or anxiety caused by hormonal changes.
Massage for pregnant women offers a number of benefits, and it’s always a good idea to discuss with your therapist any everyday symptoms you’d like to see relieved. Those might include:
- Headaches can be relieved by massage focusing on the head, neck and shoulders. In addition, maintaining optimal levels of stress relief through massage reduces the chances of migraines or tension headaches by relaxing trigger points and muscle spasms.
- Muscle tension created by carrying the extra weight of a baby can be relieved by encouraging blood flow to the afflicted areas. This provides more nutrient-rich oxygen and also increases the flow of lymphatic fluid, which sweeps away toxins and metabolic waste.
- Fatigue, backaches, leg cramps and swelling/edema can all be relieved through various types of massage for pregnant women.
- The ordinary aches and pains of pregnancy are countered by the release of serotonin, your body’s natural anti-pain chemical, which is stimulated by massage.
While a massage can’t promise that your newborn will sleep through the night, it can provide you with a better night’s sleep both during pregnancy and afterwards. Regular massage therapy not only helps diminish anxiety and discomfort but boosts relaxation as well. This ultimately can lead to improved sleep patterns.
In addition, the serotonin, endorphins and dopamine released by your body in response to massage provide an extra helping of those natural chemicals. “Massage is very effective at increasing deep sleep,” says Touch Research Institute director Dr. Tiffany Field.
Acupressure is often called acupuncture without the needles. Instead of needles, acupressure involves the application of manual pressure (usually with the fingertips) to specific points on the body.
According to the principles of traditional Chinese medicine, the body has vital energy called “chi” or “qi” that flows along invisible lines of energy flow called meridians. There are thought to be at least 14 meridians connecting our organs with other parts of our body. Acupuncture and acupressure points lie on those meridians. If the flow of qi is blocked at any point on a meridian, it’s thought to be the cause of ailments and lead to disease anywhere along the meridian. That’s why a practitioner may apply pressure to an acupressure point in the foot to relieve a headache.
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 reduce referral 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 point massage therapy is specifically designed to alleviate the source of the pain through cycles of isolated pressure and release. In this type of massage for trigger point therapy, the recipient actively participates through deep breathing as well as identifying the exact location and intensity of the discomfort.
The results and benefits of trigger point massage are releasing constricted areas in the muscles thus alleviating pain. You can experience a significant decrease in pain after just one treatment. Receiving massage with trigger point therapy on a regular basis can help naturally manage pain and stress from chronic injuries.
Cranial sacral therapy (also known as craniosacral therapy) is a gentle, noninvasive form of bodywork that addresses the bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum. The goal is to release compression in those areas which alleviates stress and pain.
Cranial sacral therapy seeks to restore the natural position of the bones and can decrease stress from chronic injuries as well as provide relief from migraine headaches, neck and back pain, temporomandibular joint disorder (the inflammation of the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull) and more.
According to the National Headache Foundation, approximately 28 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches. Often, migraines are triggered or exacerbated by stress and poor sleep. In a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, researchers found that participants who received bodywork like Cranial Sacral Therapy had better quality sleep and fewer migraines than participants who didn’t. Effects even lasted up to three weeks after therapy ended.
Another way to address pain in the head is through scalp massage, which can be extremely relaxing. “Many people don’t realize we have muscles on our scalp,” says Melissa Wheeler, a massage therapist and the teacher training coordinator for the National Holistic Institute in Emeryville, California. “Those muscles are responsible for making our facial expressions, and there can be a lot of tension there, especially when staring at a computer all day or when we are under a lot of stress.” Not only that, but the scalp tends to get ignored on a daily basis. “It’s tension we’re not usually aware of,” Wheeler says. “Many people feel that tension melt away when their head is massaged.”
Ancient Polynesian Body Alignment
Persephone Godwin has been extensively trained over a decade in Hawai’i in the art and healing power of Ancient Polynesian Body Alignment. This modality of bodywork has been passed down through the Royal family of Tiramakea of the Cook Islands. The work is done with the client fully clothed on the lauhala mat on the floor as it has been done since ancient time. Several techniques are used such as Maoru/pushing with palm heel, Romi Romi/kneading with hands and Kake Ki Runga/climbing up and stepping with the feet. The client’s body is opened up, extended, and grounded in mother earth. Flexibility is important and a pole is used to stretch and strengthen muscles. In this engaging massage, you will experience all aspects of the muscular alignment, pressure release, relaxation, mood elevation interwoven into Maori spiritual healing.
Myofascial release (MFR) therapy focuses on releasing muscular shortness and tightness. There are a number of conditions and symptoms that myofascial release therapy addresses.
Many patients seek myofascial treatment after losing flexibility or function following an injury or if experiencing ongoing back, shoulder, hip, or virtually pain in any area containing soft tissue.
Other conditions treated by myofascial release therapy include Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disorder, carpal tunnel syndrome, or possibly fibromyalgia or migraine headaches. Patient symptoms usually include:
Tightness of the tissues that restricts motion or pulls the body out of alignment, causing individuals to favor and overuse one hip or shoulder, for example
A sense of excessive pressure on muscles or joints that produces pain
Pain in any part or parts of the body, including headache or back pain.