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Massage therapy refers to the physical act of manipulating and relaxing tissue. This action allows manipulations of the soft tissues as well as the structures surrounding them. Massage therapy can be classified into two main categories, manual or mechanical. Manual massage can be applied using fingers, hands, palms, elbows and feet. Mechanical massage is the application of pressure using a device such as rolling brushes or heated oils, heated water, and vacuum devices.
Massage therapy is based around the principle that relaxation causes a decrease in muscle tension and an increase for range of motion. An effective massage technique involves applying pressure to a specific point on the body. The pressure applied to a point on the body stimulates blood flow, which increases muscle flexibility. Myofascial release is also an alternative therapy treatment believed to be helpful for the treatment of chronic pain and muscle immobility by relaxing tight contractions, enhancing blood and lymphatic flow, and increasing the stretch response in tight muscles.
Trigger Point Therapy Massage Therapists are trained professionals who use specific techniques to treat certain areas of the body. They focus on increasing range of motion, relieving chronic pain, and reducing muscle stiffness and spasm. A trigger point is a location in which a nerve or muscle experiences a painful "knot", or "taut band" around a specific area.
Myofascial Release Massage therapists use myofascial release techniques to release knots, release chronic tension, reduce soreness and increase range of motion and muscle flexibility. Myofascial taps and triggers can be used to release knots in the myofascial system by applying pressure to specific points along the myofascial line. These triggers can either be electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic. Trigger point therapy is proven to relieve pain and help muscle repair. It also strengthens the immune system.
Deep Tissue massage This type of massage treats deeper layers beneath the superficial muscle and joint tissue layers. This technique does NOT require the use trigger points, myofascial relaxation, or deep tissues stretching. A massage therapist uses her hands in this technique to tighten and compress stressed muscles. The tension that builds up over time is released through this technique. This technique is described by many as having an urge to throw up. However, it releases chronic tension.
Trigger Point Therapy employs mechanical devices to stimulate the myofascia (or connective) points to increase flexibility. The mechanical device activates certain trigger points. These triggers can be found in the muscles, tendons or ligaments as well as other tissues. When pressure is applied, the trigger point is depressed. This causes the muscles to contract. This technique does not employ massage therapy techniques such deep tissue stretching and myofascial relief. When the muscles are contracted, the therapist can deliver continuous pressure without interruption.
Soft Tissue Release The massage therapist uses slow and sustained pressure to release soft tissue. The massage therapist uses soft tissue release to loosen adhesions (or scar tissue) from joints and other areas. When the skin is stretched too much, like after intense sports, adhesions can form in the soft tissues. Adhesions (or scar tissue) can cause pain and stiffness.
Manual Pressure and acupressure. A massage therapist may also use manual pressure, which is a hands-on technique that can release pain and relieve discomfort. This technique is known as acupressure, and it has been used for hundreds years in China and Europe. The thumbs, fingers or palms are used to gently press on specific acupoints. Acupressure reduces pain by increasing blood supply, relaxing muscles, decreasing stress, increasing circulation and relieving a range of ailments. This massage is a popular choice for pain relief.