You’re finally ready to book a massage therapy appointment. You’ve found a licensed therapist who is highly recommended by trusted friends. You’re about to call for an appointment, but one question is holding you back. What type of massage should you request?
Massage therapy is not a one-size-fits-all application. When picking a massage therapist, make sure to ask about their philosophy on using single or multiple techniques during a therapy session. A good practitioner will continually evaluate what the client says they need and what their body is saying throughout the massage to determine the best course of action.
I believe in practicing holistic bodywork. That means that I tailor each massage therapy session to the individual client’s needs at that time. I usually use a variety of techniques during a single session, depending on what the client is experiencing. And I constantly monitor the client’s response to each technique, backing off when the pressure seems to great, delving deeper when necessary if the client can handle it.
There are many different types of massage that I may use during a massage. You’ve probably heard of Swedish, deep tissue and trigger point massage. I also offer prenatal massage, myofascial release, reflexology, reiki and CranioSacral Therapy. All forms of massage therapy involve manipulating soft tissue to stimulate circulation, release muscle tension and aid in relaxation. Each method, however, uses different techniques to achieve specific results.
Swedish massage is what most people picture when they think of a massage. A therapist uses her hands, forearms, elbows, fingers, knees or feet to break up the knots in a client’s muscles. Swedish massage is best for relaxation, reducing muscle tension and increasing range of motion and circulation, making it a great therapy for recovering from injury.
Deep tissue massage is another well-known technique. In this technique, the therapist uses slow, deep movements to smooth out the fascia and stretch the muscles below. This therapy is best for addressing acute pain caused by injury, chronic bad posture or repetitive motion.
Trigger point massage is used to release knots in your body. By applying pressure to a knot, or trigger point, the muscle relaxes, allowing the pain to subside. Trigger point massage is a very targeted form of massage therapy used to address specific spots of pain and tension.
Myofascial release directly targets the fascia – the thin layer of connective tissue that wraps around almost everything in your body. When your fascia gets wrinkled or knotted, you lose range of motion and feel pain. During myofascial release, your massage therapist feels for bumps in what should be a smooth fascia, then works to smooth out those knots. This technique improves circulation and relaxes muscles so that they move better.
Reflexology operates on the theory that there are points on the body that correspond with your organs and other body parts. By applying pressure on one area, you can relieve tension in another. Reflexology is ideal for relaxation and stress relief. It can also have other health benefits depending on where pressure is applied, such as sinus drainage; reduced tension in neck, back and shoulder muscles; headache relief; and reduced swelling in the feet and lower limbs.
Reiki is a technique that is less familiar to many clients than the techniques described above. Reiki uses gentle touch and visualization techniques to improve the flow of life energy within a client. Whereas most traditional bodywork techniques involve manipulating soft tissue, Reiki uses spiritual energy to calm, relax and heal the body.
Prenatal massage is self-explanatory. When working with a pregnant woman, a massage therapist must modify not only the techniques but also the client’s body positioning. The massage is gentle and focuses on reducing joint and lower back pain as well as stress.
One additional technique I offer that you may not be familiar with is CranioSacral Therapy. CranioSacral Therapy focuses on the membranes and fluid surrounding your spinal cord and brain. Like the fascia, the craniosacral system is sensitive to injuries large and small from daily life. These injuries negatively impact your nervous system. During CranioSacral Therapy, I use light touch (the same amount of pressure as if I set a nickel on your body) to subtly manipulate your spinal cord and skull. These tiny adjustments restore your craniosacral system – and thus your nervous system – to a healthy state.
If you’re ready to try a customized massage therapy session, call me to schedule an appointment.