Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.
So What Is It Exactly? Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body.
Massage: The application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. The many variations of massage account for several different techniques.
Bodywork: Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement, and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body.
Somatic: Meaning “of the body.” Many times this term is used to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach as distinguished from a physiology-only or environmental perspective.
There are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin.
Please note: Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies specifically exclude diagnosis, prescription, manipulation or adjustments of the human skeletal structure, or any other service, procedure or therapy which requires a license to practice orthopedics, physical therapy, podiatry, chiropractic, osteopathy, psychotherapy, acupuncture, or any other profession or branch of medicine.
A few terms found on my site include:
Swedish Massage ~ Performed either lightly or applying deeper pressure, this technique is typically the starting point for most massage training and client receiving. It involves five kinds of touching and is delivered to soft tissues by the therapist's hands, which are moisturized with massage oil or lotion. The kneading, rolling, vibrational, tapping, and percussive movements all work inward toward your heart and will stimulate your circulation. Among many benefits, Swedish massage will hasten healing of injuries, reduce swelling, and help dissolve scar tissue adhesions.
Deep Tissue Massage ~ Often integrated with other massage methods, deep-tissue work is exactly what it sounds like. Once the outer muscles have been relaxed (typically using Swedish techniques), this work goes deeper into the muscles, and the deep, dense, connective tissue (fascia) that helps join your body parts together. Deep-tissue work is an excellent remedy for chronic muscular pain, injury rehabilitation, and reduction of inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis.
Myofascial Release ~ Myo refers to muscles. Fascia refers to connective tissue throughout the body. Myofascial release refers to the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, integument (skin) and muscles with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and equilibrioception (balance). Myofascial release usually involves applying shear compression or tension in various directions, or by skin rolling and is often performed without lotion or oil.
Seated Chair Massage ~ Chair massage is provided by a trained professional, with you seated on a padded, ergonomically designed chair and is often delivered in a semiprivate kiosk, fully clothed, without massage oil, and purchased in segments from five minutes to 30 minutes at about $1 a minute. The focus is applying compression (pressure) to the head, shoulders, neck, back, and arms. Use chair massage for relief from long airplane rides, to relax shoulders weighted down by shopping bags or suitcases, or on your lunch hour at a busy office.
Elder Massage ~ Geriatric massage is a form of massage designed to meet the specific needs of the elderly population. It involves the use of hands to manipulate the soft tissues of the body to improve blood circulation, relieve pain, and increase range of motion. Active or passive movement of the joints may also be part of geriatric massage. Old people often suffer from a variety of such age related diseases as Parkinson's disease, arthritis, diabetes, or heart disease. As a result, they have poor blood circulation and limited physical activity. Many of them are also anxious, depressed, and lonely. Geriatric massage can help them maintain and improve their overall health, as well as regain certain physical functions that have been reduced or lost due to aging. In addition, it can relieve anxiety and depression and provide comfort to touch-deprived elderly patients.