by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac ~
From acupressure and amma therapy to tantra and tui na, massage techniques are as wide and varied as the diverse schools of thought that they have come out of. Here you will find the meanings and definitions behind these amazing ideas relating to touch and how massage has been used for relieving pain to help one get in touch with their soul!
Acupressure is based on the principles of acupuncture, this ancient Chinese technique involves the use of finger pressure on specific points along the body to treat ailments such as tension, stress, and arthritis. Acupressure is part of the Traditional Chinese System of Medicine, which was developed in China over 5000 years ago. Acupressure points run along meridians in the body and carries the “Qi energy”. When this energy is interrupted due to pain, injury, swelling and illness, this is recognized as a block of our energy or Qi. Meridian points are often referred to as ‘tender spots’ to the touch. These tender spots lie on interconnecting channels on the meridian points. There are twelve meridians and eight extraordinary meridians located on the body. Acupressure points can help in the relief of musculoskeletal pain, restricted movement of joints, migraines and headaches, menstrual conditions, fatigue, stress (emotional or work related), insomnia, sciatica, asthma, and lower back pain.
Alexander Technique is an awareness practice for identifying and developing discipline over the negative physical habits of incorrect posture and movement. Developed a century ago by actor F. Matthias Alexander, who used it to cure himself of chronic laryngitis, he believed if the vertebrae were out of alignment it was due to these poor habits. The Alexander Technique is a simple method of reeducating the mind and body to improve ease and freedom of movement, balance, and coordination. The technique teaches the use of the appropriate amount of effort for a particular activity, giving you more energy for all your activities.
Amma Therapy is a system of bodywork, which uses traditional oriental medical principles for evaluating imbalances in the energetic system. It aims to restore promote, and maintain health through the treatment of the physical body, bioenergy, and emotions. The word Amma, which means “push-pull” in Chinese, was applied to a form of Oriental massage dating back five thousand years to the period of the Yellow Emperor. Founded and developed by Korean-born Tina Sohn, Amma Therapy is a highly refined and complex system of bodywork whose techniques and treatment strategies combine the use of traditional Oriental medical principles and a Western approach to organ dysfunction. It utilizes a variety of techniques, sometimes paralleling those found in major forms of therapeutic massage, as well as powerful new points discovered by Tina Sohn.
Aromatherapy Massage is the use of essential oils for curative and rejuvenating effects. Dating back to ancient Egypt, India, and the Far East, this simple therapy has been used for centuries to reduce stress and tension, refresh and invigorate the body, soothe emotions, and clear the mind. After an initial discussion with the client, specific essential oils are used in conjunction with other appropriate techniques, such as massage, acupressure, or reflexology. Used in oils, the essential oil is absorbed through the skin and into the body to affect physiological change. When inhaled the aroma directly affects the limbic area of the brain that is related to emotions and memories.
Chakra Massage A staple in the Ayurvedic medicine therapies, this stimulating massage has been done for centuries to harmoniously realign and re-balance our “sacred pools of light and energy”. One version has been done with stones in the past. In this age, a unique and enhanced format combines the peaceful “laying of stones” with the option to massage the body and its associated energy centers for an incredible connective experience!
Chakra Massage Stones can be placed on the body according to your specific needs. They can lay on the body as you meditate or relax. The stones, along with the crystals, have the capacity to help realign, energize and balance the body’s subtle energies in about 20 minutes time.
The Chakra Massage Stones can also be used as a massage tool for a deeper and satisfying experience. The Chakra massage can be a self massage or you can get a friend or loved one involved for shared enjoyment. This vitalizing massage works not only on a physical level but at an esoteric level as well.
Craniosacral Therapy utilizes the cerebrospinal fluid that moves in a slight but perceptible tide-like manner. Craniosacral therapists assist in facilitating change in areas of restriction where this tide-like motion is limited, confined, and immobilized. By using a gentle light touch, this fluid becomes more rhythmic and balanced, and the central nervous system is restored. Craniosacral therapy is helpful to those with nervous disorders, motor-coordination impairments, attention deficit disorders, insomnia, and other problems. Craniosacral therapy was originally developed in the early 1900’s by an osteopath named William G. Sutherland and later refined and promoted by Dr. John Upledger.
Feldenkrais is a system of bodywork developed to improve posture, movement, and breathing. Method teaches recognizing and breaking improper habits of movement. In Awareness Through Movement (ATM) lessons, the Feldenkrais practitioner verbally guides you through a sequence of movements: sitting or lying on the floor, standing or sitting in a chair. You discover how you do the movements and notice the quality of changes in your body. You learn to relax and to abandon habitual patterns. Through the subtle ATM movements, you develop awareness, flexibility and coordination. You experience relaxation and a sense of release. In this one-to-one learning process, the movements are communicated through slow, gentle touch. Comfortably clothed, you lie or sit on a low padded table, or you may be standing, walking, sitting in a chair, or in other various positions. The practitioner guides you through a series of precise movements that alter habitual patterns and provide new learning directly to the neuromuscular system.
Functional Iintegration is especially useful for people who want to learn to overcome limitations brought on by stress, misuse, accident, or illness. It is equally beneficial for people who want to perform and feel better physically and mentally.
Hellerwork is a somatic education and structural bodywork which is based on the inseparability of body, mind, and spirit. Myofascial release, movement awareness, and dialogue are the essence of the sessions enabling one to move more fluidly, have stamina, strength, and increased energy. Hellerwork makes the connection between movement and the body alignment, and restores the body’s natural balance from the inside out.
During the 11 session series, the structural balance of the body is realized through the systematic release of muscle and connective tissue using a variety of gentle deep-tissue bodywork techniques. This restores the body’s optimal natural balance and posture. Movement education is incorporated to enhance fluidity and ease of motion which helps the client develop a deeper awareness of their body and its expression in the world. Self-awareness facilitated through dialogue is an important component of the Hellerwork series. Hellerwork is based on the assumption that every person is innately healthy. The client’s results are maximized by creating a deeper experience of the integrity of their body, their movement, and their relationship with themselves, with others, and with the world around them.
Hot Stone Massage is a concept that was founded 5000 years ago. Ayurveda, the ancient healing tradition of India, spoke of a universal source of all life. Hot stones are positioned on the body and some are gently manipulated with light pressure being exerted on the warm stones to invigorate this universal life force.
The energy called “prana” is the energy, or the breath of life which moves through all forms to give them life. Yogis work with this energy with breathing techniques, meditation, physical exercise and massage to produce altered states of consciousness, healing and longevity. They would not only use their hands for manipulation and healing but also utilize ?tools? the earth would provide such as herbs, flowers, crystals and stones.
HotStone Massage Therapy came from the healers using rocks from the river beds and warming them either in hot coals or hot water. By placing the hot stones on a towel on the body and arranging them along the energy points of the body a healing process would occur. The hot stones have a tendency to relax the muscles and ?draw out? muscle pain and discomfort. The hot stones seem to connect the flow or paths of energy together in order to rebalance the physical body, emotional mind and soaring spirit as one. As the stones cool the healer replace them with hot stones again. At the end, the healer would massage the body with the stones and scented oil.
Infant Massage is usually taught to new mothers as a way of bonding with their newborn and for encouraging infant health. Promoted by Vimala McClure, it incorporates nurturing touch, massage, and reflexology in a loving, fun, one-on-one interaction. A study at the University of Miami showed that infants who received 15 minutes of massage a day gained weight 47% faster and demonstrated other physical and neurological benefits.
Medical Massage or clinical massage deals with the dysfunction of the soft tissue or range of motion of the joints. This type of massage usually occurs after an injury has been sustained or due to over use. It is important that the injury is assessed as soon as possible after an injury occurs. The longer an injury goes untreated, the longer the recovery time. Clinical Massage can be beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as: Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Frozen Shoulder, R.S.I., Tendonitis (in various sizes), Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fallen Arches, Sprained Ankles, Shin Splints, Scoliosis, Knee Problems, Tennis Elbow, Golf Elbow, Whiplash, Rounded Shoulders, Rotator Cuff Tears, and Bursitis.Your Physiotherapist will often refer you to a Soft Tissue Therapist to help you restore the range of motion within joints of the body, and or through muscle lengthening techniques.?
Reflexology is a healing technique using points and reflex zones on the hands and feet that correspond to internal and external pathways of the body including the organs and musculoskeletal system. Working these points with various techniques has shown to increase blood circulation, decrease stress levels, boost the digestive system and improve the nervous system.
Popularized in the United States by physiotherapist Eunice Inghram in the 1930s, this is an acupressure type technique performed on the hands and feet and is based on the ancient Oriental theory that meridian lines or pathways carry energy throughout the body. Because each zone or part of the body has a corresponding reflex point on the feet, stimulating that reflex point causes stimulation in the natural energy of the related organ. Crystalline-type deposits and/or tenderness indicate a dysfunction, and pressure is applied to clear out congestion and restore normal functioning and health. Want to know more?
Reiki is a healing system of using light hand placements to channel healing energies. Used to treat emotional and mental distress, chronic and acute physical problems, and to achieve spiritual focus and clarity. Reiki is a powerful method of healing through opening, clearing and re-balancing one’s energy system. Reiki is a natural holistic energy therapy, which has been practiced around the world. Reiki provides relief from many ailments that benefit from improved internal energy flow, such as arthritis and other conditions of stiffness, maladjustment or pain. The healing of emotional traumas can be accelerated with Reiki, and it can be especially powerful in overcoming the trauma of incest and sexual abuse.
In its simplest form, using Reiki is simply the practitioner placing their hands near or upon the recipient with the intent of bringing healing, and willing for Reiki energy to flow. Healing is full and complete resolution of the causes of the dis-ease. Healing is returning to a state of alignment with your Higher Self or true way of being. Balance.
There are four levels of Reiki.
Reiki I – With the first attunement, the practitioner can do the basis energy transfer.
Reiki II – Here the studies are much more involved and the practitioner is given Reiki symbols with the second attunement to be able to perform absentee healing. Reiki II practitioner can send Reiki over space and time, to a relative in a remote location or even to a different lifetime and beyond. Individuals passing on can benefit from receiving Reiki as well.
Reiki III – With the third attunement, the practitioner’s ability to perform Reiki is intensified and a decision can be made to move to the final level of Reiki Master, that is also a Reiki teacher.
Reiki Master – At this level the student receives final instructions and guided to share this wonderful, bountiful and extremely rewarding gift with the universe.
Reiki is a wonderful and healing form of energy transfer and balancing. You must decide for yourself whether Reiki works for you. You cannot decide based on intellectual knowledge alone; you must have practical experience with it in order to know for yourself.
Rolfing is deep manipulation of the fascia to restore the body’s natural alignment. This involves ten sessions, each focusing on a different part of the body. Much like a sculptor works with clay, a Rolfer works with the connective tissue of the body to create a body that is more balanced, symmetrical and erect, has more graceful movement and functions more efficiently. Through a series of sessions, Rolfing changes the body form, patterns of habitual use, and movement. The results are improved posture, reduced pain and stress, an enhanced level of awareness, increased energy for living and a sense of well-being.
Rolfing treats your body as an integrated whole. Though you may be aware of tension or pain in only one area of your body, there are significant compensations throughout your structure. Manipulation of a small segment is seldom enough. The whole body must be brought back into balance to effect permanent change and release.In the broadest sense, Rolfing uses the manipulative process to awaken an inner sense of well-being.
Our bodies act as storage systems for the accumulated physical and emotional events of our lives. Each injury, illness or emotional trauma leaves an imprint in our structure. These imprints are in the myofascial (connective tissue) network whose function is to support and connect most of the components in the body. The connective tissue bunches up to compensate for torques and twists that occur; it gradually hardens, and literally begins to stick to itself.The body pays a high price for this type of internal resistance. Pain ensues, habit patterns develop, and the individual learns to function with limited options in movement. The more serious the trauma, the more deeply held is the compensation, often becoming coupled with our basic personality structure.
Shiatsu involves the rhythmic pressing of acupressure points for short periods. The thumbs are used whenever possible because they exert firmer pressure. “Shiatsu” means finger pressure in Japanese. Shiatsu is a Japanese treatment working on the meridians of the body and the Qi or the life energy of the person. A Shiatsu treatment is helpful to joint and muscle pain and will leave you in a deep, relaxed, calm state. This massage involves the awareness of subtle energy movements within the body.
Because shiatsu works on the energetic system, it can be useful in helping a wide range of disorders. A shiatsu treatment will be of maximum value if it is supported by an understanding of the cause of the condition, and if the person follows a moderate outlook and lifestyle.
Shiatsu can specifically help arthritic conditions, backaches, emotional difficulties, headaches/migraines, insomnia, intestinal disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, constipation and diarrhea), menstrual problems (heavy periods and premenstrual syndrome), muscular tensions, reproductive problems (including endometriosis and fibroids), respiratory difficulties (asthma, bronchitis and recurrent chest infections), sinusitis, stress-related disorders. Shiatsu has been found to work for patients with long standing chronic pain. Used as a management technique for pain and discomfort, Shiatsu has helps those with lupis, scoliosis, muscular degenerative disorders, fibromyalgia, anxiety attacks and phobias, burn victims, as well as long term emotional traumas.
Through shiatsu, we can become aware of what happens with pain and soreness in the body. If pain is experienced in the body, the immediate reaction is to tense up against it. This tightens the body, adding to the discomfort; it blocks the energy paths to the area so that valuable energy is not getting through to where it is needed. Shiatsu techniques help to relax muscle tightness, enabling the vital energy flow to be restored.
Shiatsu is a catalyst in the healing process. Healing is not something that just sometimes “happens” but a continuous movement toward harmony, balance and wholeness.
Swedish is the process of using soothing, kneading strokes to “warm-up” the body. Then a rolling and squeezing of the specific muscle groups are done to relieve soreness by clearing away lactic acid. Swedish massage is now known as “traditional” massage. In the 1820s a Swedish doctor, Dr. Per Henrik Ling, developed the first modern method of massage through his study of physiology, gymnastics, and the massage techniques borrowed from China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Swedish massage includes long gliding strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, and shaking motions. It is effective for most ailments, because massaging the skin, the body’s largest organ, sets up a chain reaction that produces a positive effect on all layers and systems of the body. It affects the nerves, muscles, glands, and circulation, and promotes health and well-being.
Tantric Massage is based on the Tantric school of thought. Tantric combines the principles of yoga and meditation to weave together sensuality and spirituality. It is rooted in ancient Hindu and Buddhist texts and practices dating back to the sixth century A.D.
A loose tradition to begin with, Tantric teachings offer no clear record of their origins, even when it comes to the meaning of the term Tantra, which has been variously defined as “web,” “weaving,” “expansion,” and “liberation.” No matter what the definition, at the heart of Tantra is honest communication, creating intimacy and relaization.
Realization that your self is infinite and beyond space and time. Realization that leads to complete peace of mind and contentment. It does not require you to change your spiritual beliefs in order for the process to work.
Tui Na is known as the grandfather of all massage, Tuina was developed in China over over 5,000 years ago. This Oriental bodywork encompasses Reflexology, Accupressure and Massage. Tuina works on the energy channels and points on the body using the same principles as Acupuncture except you are using your hands and fingers instead of needles. In ancient China, medical therapy was often classified into “external” and “internal” treatments. Tuina was one of the external methods, especially suitable for use on the elderly population and on infants. Today it is subdivided into specialized treatment for “infants”, “adults”, “orthopedics”, “traumatology”, “cosmetology”, “rehabilitation”, “sports medicine”…
Tuina has no side effects unlike many modern drug-based and chemical-based treatments. It has been used to treat or compliment the treatment of many conditions, especially specific musculo-skeletal disorders and chronic stress-related disorders of the digestive, respiratory, and reproductive systems.