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complementary therapies explained massage therapy
Massage Therapy is technically defined as the manipulation of the soft tissues of the body - muscles, skin and connective tissues - for therapeutic purposes. This definition belies the complexity of a set of modalities that are helpful in treating conditions ranging from a bad day to severe whiplash. Most Massage Therapists are skilled in a variety of techniques that relax and bring balance to the whole body, as well as promote healing of muscular injuries and overuse.

Some beneficial effects of Massage Therapy are:
  • Enhances deep relaxation and stress reduction
  • Relieves muscle tension and spasm
  • Increases joint flexibility and range of motion
  • Assists with deeper and easier breathing
  • Improves circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid
  • Speeds recovery from injury
The use of massage is widespread and well documented throughout history. Stroking and kneading of the neck, chest, back and limbs was used in ancient civilisations - and in most cultures since then - to relieve pain and suffering. In the fifth century BC, Hippocrates wrote, "the physician must be experienced in many things, but most assuredly in rubbing."

More recently, the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida has documented the value of Massage Therapy in enhancing weight gain in premature infants, decreasing symptoms of depression and improving immune function in AIDS patients.

Massage Therapy, as the term is used today, is non-specific and encompasses many different techniques used for a variety of purposes. Although the terms massage and bodywork are used interchangeably, bodywork usually refers to
primarily manipulative techniques, such as:

  • Craniosacral Therapy works with precise aspects of human anatomy in
    concert with inherent intelligence to return to a state of balance and

  • Deep Tissue Massage unsticks the fibres of a muscle while releasing
    deeply-held patterns of tension, removing toxins and re-educating the
    muscle to operate at full capacity.

  • LaStone Therapy application of Thermotherapy, using deep penetrating
    heated stones and alternating with extremely cold stones.

  • Neuromuscular Therapy incorporates several techniques, including
    strength and length testing, trigger point therapy and facial

  • Reflexology applies healing pressure to the points on our hands, feet,
    ears and other body parts, that reflect the major systems of our body,
    such as organs, skeleton and muscles.

  • Rolfing® is a systematic approach to releasing patterns of stress and
    impaired function in the body, through physical manipulation and

  • The Trager® approach uses gentle rocking, swinging, stretching and
    pressing to create pleasurable, effortless, easy movement.

Back to main Complementary Therapy page.

Source: Joanne Cardinal, NTS, Aurora CO.
Contributors: Jan Foster Miller, MA; Janey North Brancheau, CMT, RPP, Boulder CO; Susan Folsom, CMT, Boulder CO
Copyright © 1997-2001, Complementary Wellness,™
Littleton CO USA, +1-303-770-4022, www.CompWellness.com/.
Reprinted with permission.
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