There are many techniques in therapeutic massage, spa massage, and massage for all ages.
About Therapeutic and Spa Massage
Massage is the manipulation, pressing, and rubbing of muscles and soft tissues with fingers, hands, elbows, forearms and feet. There are many health benefits to massage and about 80 different styles of massage therapy. Some massage styles use “long, smooth strokes” while other are “short percussive strokes”. Sometimes lotions and oils are used. Clients can be dressed or not, depending on the style. Massages range in time from “5 minutes to 2 hours”. Some massage is used for stress reduction and relaxation, while other types are necessary for health conditions. Swedish massage is the most common type of massage, and it uses tapping strokes as well as long and kneading strokes. It is “relaxing and energizing” and useful for injury recovery. The four strokes of Swedish massage are tapotement (alternating tapping with cupped hands), friction (circular and deep movement), petrissage (squeezing and kneading), and effleurage (smooth and gliding stroke). Other types of massage include neuromuscular therapy massage, deep tissue, sports, and chair massage, as well as shiatsu, Thai, and hot stone massages. Massage is also useful during pregnancy. Health benefits of massage include back pain and headache relief, help with osteoarthritis and cancer, and anxiety reduction.1
Therapeutic and Spa Massage Types
Some of the types of therapeutic massage include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports, massage, trigger point therapy, prenatal and geriatric massage, and cranial sacral therapy. Trigger point therapy is helpful in providing relief of the tight areas in muscles. It is a way to naturally manage stress and pain without the use of medications. Swedish massage is useful for lymph and circulation movement, as well as stress reduction. Sports massage is helpful for athletes to recovery from injury, improve endurance, and promote flexibility to prevent injuries. Cranial sacral therapy is beneficial for back and neck pain, TMJD (temporomandibular joint disorder of the jaw), and headaches. Geriatric massage can improve joint movement and flexibility, while encouraging circulation and reducing anxiety and pain. Prenatal massage promotes sleep and decreases fatigue, and it alleviates headaches and backaches.2 Some chiropractic offices offer massage therapy. Massage is helpful for a variety of disorders including stress, insomnia, myofascial pain, digestive disorders, circulatory issues, allergies, arthritis, and carpal tunnel syndrome, to name a few.3 There are other types of massage and related therapies that are available at spas including “youth enhancing facial massage”, stone massage, “cellulite reduction massage”, Ayurvedic massage, and aromatherapy.4
Benefits of Massage for All Ages
Massage is useful for patients of all ages. Usually massage is something thought of for just adults, but patients of all ages, from infants and children, through the elderly, can benefit. There are many varieties of massage. Some are performed with the hands, others with the feet, some are done while the patient is clothed, others not, and some are performed with tools, oils, or aromatherapy. Special chairs or tables are used, depending on the technique. Even “warm-water therapy pools” could be employed for “aquatic bodywork”. Acupressure, craniosacral therapy (CST), infant massage, lymphatic drainage, medical massage, myofascial release, pediatric massage, shiatsu, sports massage, stone massage, Swedish massage, and trigger point therapy are some of the most commonly known massage types. Massage has been found to provide pain relief, reduce depression and anxiety, and lower heart rate and blood pressure. It is thought to release serotonin and endorphins, prevent scar tissue, improve lymph flow, and promote sleep. A major benefit of massage is pain relief from causes such as musculoskeletal injuries. Benefits of the therapy increase with “education and exercises”.5
Infant and Pediatric Massage
Babies can be massaged by their parents. Infant massage stimulates the central nervous system, releasing serotonin (“feel-good chemical”) and decreasing cortisol (stress hormone). The baby’s breathing and heart rate reduces, causing relaxation. Massage improves “emotional well-being”.6 To perform infant massage, the baby should be put on a towel or blanket, and massage oil can also be utilized as well. Oil should be tested to make sure that it does not irritate the baby. The best time to do the massage is when the baby is quiet and alert, but not after a feeding or when the infant is feeling sleepy. The tummy, head, face, chest, arms, back, and legs can all be massaged for about 10-30 minutes using a variety of gentle techniques. In fact, massage can be performed daily, and it is considered “a great way to bond with baby”. Other benefits of infant massage are that it may improve sleep, alleviate colic, and perhaps “enhance an infant’s immune system, motor skills, and intellectual development”.7 The benefits of massage do not stop with infants. Children can also receive touch therapy, for about 15 minute sessions at a time. Healthy touch is useful for self-esteem. Massage is also beneficial for boosting the immune system and for stress reduction. Reducing stress can help with sleep issues andhormonal imbalances. Massage is also said to be helpful for arthritic and skin problems, as well as asthma and diabetes, and psychiatric and mood disorders. This therapy is even recommended for cancer patients, in that massage reduces stress, thereby boosting the immune system. Children who have hyperactivity disorders, autism, and those prone to eating disorders, such as bulimia, may also benefit from massage. Depression and anxiety are often lessened by this type of therapy. Massage benefits children of all ages.8 Special needs children, such as pre-term infants, and those exposed to cocaine or who are HIV-positive, have been found to respond to massage with the following effects: “increased weight gain, decreased stress behavior and improved motor skills tests”. Pre-term infants were also more alert and had better sleep, according to research.9
Massage therapy, because it impacts many body systems, can help the elderly with their lower back pain, immunity, and age-related degenerative issues. This therapy can help older patients with maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. It is also useful pain reduction, lowering blood pressure, and managing the symptoms of certain conditions, including arthritis and “normal age-related degeneration”. Patients can heal from strains faster, with massage, and this treatment can improve the immune system and reduce back pain, as well.10 The geriatric population has special needs, and massage should be performed gently, with light oil and passive stretching, so as not to cause too much friction. Some of the benefits of geriatric massage include combatting depression, enhancing circulation, improving flexibility and balance, reducing arthritis pain, increasing the mobility of joints, and improving posture. Elderly patients may also be “touch-deprived”; therefore, massage provides the added benefit of assisting with “overall well-being”. Of course, before starting any therapy program, patients should consult their healthcare professionals. Certain elderly patients may have medical conditions that are not suitable for massage therapy. It may be helpful for the geriatric patients to bring a family member or friend with them, in order to make sure that they feel relaxed and comfortable during their treatment. The amount of clothing a patient prefers to wear during the treatment is up to them, and they should communicate their preferences about the environment and treatment to the massage therapists.11
Find out more about massage therapy and chiropractic treatments.