Neuromuscular Therapy (Trigger Point Release)
Neuromuscular Therapy is a system of soft tissue manipulation that addresses the underlying causes of pain, not just the symptoms. An accomplished neuromuscular therapist interprets the effects of the following internal and external factors, which often create irregular activity in the central nervous system that leads to pain and dysfunction:
Postural Distortion/Dysfunctional Biomechanics
A neuromuscular therapy massage is applied in various pressures by the therapist, using a combination of effleurage or gliding, petrissage or grasping, friction, and ischemic compression. First the therapist will locate the muscle spasm and then concentrate the hands-on treatment to this area by applying continuous pressure for 10-30-seconds with their fingers, knuckles and elbows.
Typically, painful muscle spasms occur when our muscles lack adequate blood flow. When this occurs, lactic acid accumulates in the muscle. Anyone who has worked out will be familiar with the formation of lactic acid in muscles - it accumulates and causes soreness in muscle tissue following a strenuous workout. Neuromuscular therapy is applied on this same principal. It disperses the lactic acid, so the deficient muscle can begin to accept a clean supply of oxygen and blood flow.
During your first neuromuscular therapy session, you may be surprised when you feel some discomfort and pain during the massage. This is normal at first, and as the massage therapist adds more pressure to their stroke the muscle spasm will melt away. After a few neuromuscular therapy massages, clients will often claim that the pressure was painful, but in a good way.
Typically, before a neuromuscular therapy massage begins, the practitioner will tell the client to alert them immediately if the pressure is painful. The therapist will often check in with their client during the massage to ask if the stroke pressure is too light, too hard, or comfortable. The therapist will then adjust their pressure according to their client’s verbal cues.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue releases the chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow strokes and deep finger pressure on the contracted areas, either following or going across the grain of muscles, tendons and fascia. It is called deep tissue, because it also focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue.
Deep tissue massage is a form of intense massage that aims to release myofascial (connective tissue) restrictions in the body, and to break up any restrictive scar tissue. It has also been known to help relieve chronic tension, to increase the body’s range of motion, to improve posture and to enhance the natural harmony of the entire body and mind.
Deep tissue massage is also said to restore the length and flexibility to the fascia (the fibrous tissue that surrounds the muscles and organs), by normalizing the tissue and by improving the strength and overall health of the entire fascial system (connective tissues throughout the entire body).
Deep tissue massage borrows many of its techniques from traditional Swedish massage. However the pressure that a massage therapist applies during a deep tissue massage can be more intense at times, and massage oil/lotion may or may not be utilized.
The strokes of this type of massage are slower and more pressure is applied in order to warm the muscle tissue and reach the deeper layers of muscle. A deep connective tissue massage is often less relaxing and less comfortable then a traditional Swedish massage. Most practitioners ask that their clients tell them immediately if the stroke pressure is too intense.
During a session, the massage therapist will focus on releasing tension from the deeper tissue structures of the muscle and fascia (or connective tissues) with deep, intense strokes. When a therapist locates a chronic knot (also referred to as an adhesion), they will often recommend that a client adapt a total lifestyle change - which may include exercises to help improve posture, balance, movement, and relaxation. These steps are complementary to your regular deep connective tissue massage sessions.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of a sports massage is that it consists of specific components designed to cut down on sports-related injuries. It specifically alleviates muscle tension and inflammation post-event, and provides a warm-up to loosen muscles for amateur and professional athletes pre-event.
All athletes are looking to improve their sports performance and get a leg up on their competition be they Olympic athletes, professional athletes or weekend warriors. To do this, a rigorous training schedule is implemented in order to enhance their skills, strength, endurance and speed. Unfortunately, as the level of training is increased, so is the risk of injury.
As an athlete boosts their training schedule, they almost always overuse their muscles, causing strain, tears and imbalances in the soft muscle tissues. Additionally tragic is the fact that most athletes, in their quest to improve, ignore aches and pains until they turn into serious injuries. The more a sports injury is ignored; the more susceptible it becomes to further strain and injury.
One way to encourage muscle repair after training is with sports massage. Sports massage will help release any built up tension and lactic acid in the overworked muscles so that blood and oxygen can return to the muscle and effectively promote muscle repair. Sports massage, if received as part of a sports program, can help an athlete prevent injury due to overuse.
In addition to using regular sports massage sessions as part of your sports program, it can also benefit an athlete in the following ways:
Pre-Event Massage can help athletes prepare for a competitive event. A pre-event massage is brief and invigorating, usually lasting 15-20 minutes. It is given within an hour before the sporting event, through the clothes to warm up the muscles.
Post-Event Massage should be calming and relaxing. Its goal is to ease muscle pain (by decreasing tension), muscle soreness (by dispersing lactic acid), and to reduce inflammation. A post-event massage should last no more than 15- to 20-minutes, and it should be administered through the athlete’s clothes. Post-event massages encourage the return of blood and oxygen to tense areas, and they flush out metabolic waste products that have built up during strenuous muscle use.
Traditional Swedish massage was introduced by Swedish physiologist, Henri Peter Ling, in Stockholm, Sweden in the year 1812. This massage technique is characterized by its firm, yet calming pressure that improves blood circulation, eases muscle tension, and improves flexibility.
Today, a Western-style Swedish massage still employs a series of long, gliding strokes, kneading of the muscles, and vibrational taps that are so common when one thinks of massage. A Swedish masseuse will also create friction and do what’s called hacking or tapping across a clients back and shoulders to promote the release of tension. Five basic strokes gliding, kneading, vibrations, friction and hacking are all applied in the direction of the heart in order to encourage blood circulation and the disposal of bodily waste.
A Swedish massage therapist will always use massage oils to achieve the smooth, long and deep strokes over their client’s body. Therapists apply the oil to reduce friction, and essential oils are sometimes used in order to tap into a clients olphactory senses (sense of smell). During a Swedish massage a sheet is worn, otherwise the client is nude. However, body parts are only uncovered when they are being massaged.
Sports massage is a direct descendant of Swedish massage because both techniques help heal injuries like muscle sprain and spasms. Many of the techniques of sports massage such as strokes applied in the direction of the heart are borrowed from Swedish massage. This technique is just as important for athletes as it is for relaxation - the body is encouraged to disperse lactic acids in the muscles in order to make room for a fresh supply of blood and oxygen.
Pregnancy & Infant Massage
Prenatal massage refers to specific massage techniques that have been shown to reduce pregnancy discomforts and to enhance the physiological and emotional well-being of both mother and fetus. Pregnancy is a tumultuous period for a womans mind and body. Any woman who has been pregnant can sympathize with the mental and physical fatigue associated with being pregnant. Not only does a woman experience physical changes, she also experiences mental changes as well.
In the postpartum period, specialized massage techniques can help to rebalance the structure of a woman’s body by improving skin elasticity and muscle tone. Massage also has a physiological effect on a new mother; it can help ease any postpartum depression and encourage her to bond with her new baby.
In all cases, a pregnant or post-pregnant woman should always ask their doctor if massage therapy is recommended before seeking a massage therapist.
Research on Pre-natal Pregnancy Massage read more >>
Infant massage incorporates nurturing touch, massage and reflexology to promote the baby's health. Infant massage enhances child development, including brain, physical, emotional, mental and social development.
This specialized form of touch is effective not only in the critical weight-gain of premature infants, but also in creating a strong bond between parent and infant and exposing a young child to the benefits and pleasures of touch.
Setting aside just 30-minutes a day to give baby a massage should be a part of every new parent’s schedule. The benefits are ever-lasting for both you and baby. Massage can soothe a baby that’s exhausted from crying numerous times throughout the day (we all know how emotionally and physically exhausting crying can be), it will also relieve colic, circulatory problems or digestive ailments.
Baby massage is equally important for new moms and dads, who are a bit nervous handling a first baby. New dads will often claim that they’re afraid to hold their new baby or change them because they’re scared to hurt or drop them. Well, regular massages will help your baby become familiar with your touch and help you become comfortable with handling your baby. Soon you will learn how to handle this new joy with love and confidence.
When you prepare to give baby a massage it’s important to set a relaxing setting, just as it is with adult massage. Try the following:
Studies show that infants respond to music, just like adults do. Set a calming environment by playing some soft meditative music in the background. Music will also reduce any distractive noises.
The same goes for smell. Babies respond to the gentle smells of essential oils as well.
Be sure the room is warm enough for your baby to be nude. If its not, turn up the thermostat, or warm their baby blanket in the dryer.
Cover your massage table with a washable quilt or a fluffy towel. This will mop up any massage oils so they don’t leave a mess.
Use your favorite baby oil for lubrication. If you’re not sure what to use, try gentle unscented oil such as grapeseed oil.
Have diaper powder and a clean diaper handy for post-massage.
Research on the benefits of Infancy Massage read more >>
Massage for Children with Special Needs
The Brown University, USA, has conducted various studies with special need children and adolescents. Their findings indicate that massage can be viewed as effective complementary therapy for the following conditions…asthma, autism, severe burns, cancer, dermatitis, diabetes, bulimia, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychiatric problems including depression and conduct disorder.
The Touch Research Institute, Miami, Florida has also found that autistic children benefit from touch therapy.
Research indicates that massage therapy may also show positive results with infants and children suffering from hyper or hypotonicity, Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, paralysis, ADD, blindness, deafness, multiple handicaps, epilepsy, and deformities.
Infant massage may also help terminally ill infants and their families by providing a means to communicate their love through touch. Massage for terminally ill infants would be particularly beneficial to the parents providing them with something positive that they can do for their child during a time where there is little else they can do to help or bond with their child.