How can massage be medically beneficial? People find that therapeutic
massage can help with a wide range of medical conditions, including:
• Anxiety and stress
• Arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
• Asthma and bronchitis
• Carpal tunnel syndrome
• Chronic and temporary pain
• Circulatory problems
• Digestive disorders, including spastic colon, constipation
• Headache, especially when due to muscle tension
• Myofascial pain (a condition of the tissue connecting the
• Reduced range of motion
• Sports injuries, including pulled or strained muscles and
• Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ)
Massage Therapy involves the manipulation of the soft tissue structures
of the body to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, muscle spasm
and stress; and to promote health and wellness. The American Massage
Therapy Association defines massage therapy as a profession in which
the practitioner applies manual techniques, and may apply adjunctive
therapies, with the intention of positively affecting the health
and well-being of the client.
It comes in many forms, including:
Table Massage — a clothed table massage will
be offered! This technique combines the relaxation of a table massage
without the hassle of getting undressed. The treatment consists
of a therapeutic massage of the head, neck, face, arms, hands and
feet. No oils are used. The massage is then completed with some
assisted gentle stretches. There is a minimum scheduling requirement
of 30 minutes in order to complete the massage.
Swedish — a gentle, relaxing massage; Trigger
Point — helps release hyper-irritable points in muscle tissue.
Sports massage — focuses on muscle groups
relevant to the particular sport.
Cranio-Sacral — a technique for finding and
correcting cerebral and spinal imbalances or blockages that may
cause sensory, motor or mental dysfunction.
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 focuses on the deeper layers of muscle tissue.
Effleurage — a stroke generally used in a
Swedish massage treatment. This smooth, gliding stroke is used to
relax soft tissue and is applied using both hands.
Friction — is the deepest of Swedish massage
strokes. This stroke encompasses deep circular movements applied
to soft tissue causing the underlying layers of tissue to rub against
each other. The result increases blood flow to the massaged area.
Myofascial Release — a form of bodywork that
is manipulative in nature and seeks to rebalance the body by releasing
tension in the fascia. Long, stretching strokes are utilized to
release muscular tension.
On-site Massage (also known as chair massage or corporate massage)
— is administered while the client is clothed and seated in
a specially designed chair. These chairs most often slope forward
allowing access to the large muscles of the back. On-site massage
usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes and is intended to relax
and improve circulation.
Petrissage (also called kneading) — involves
squeezing, rolling and kneading the muscles and usually follows
effleurage during Swedish massage.
Reflexology — massage based around a system
of points in the hands and feet thought to correspond, or "reflex,"
to all areas of the body.
Although massage therapy does not increase muscle strength, it can
stimulate weak, inactive muscles and, thus, partially compensate
for the lack of exercise and inactivity resulting from illness or
injury. It also can hasten and lead to a more complete recovery
from exercise or injury.
Massaged adults showed 1) enhanced alertness; 2) math problems were
completed in significantly less time with significantly fewer errors
after the massage; and 3) anxiety, cortisol (stress hormone) and
job stress levels were lower at the end of the 5 week period.
Field, T., Ironson,
G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Goncalves, A., Burman, I., Pickens,
J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy
reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations.
International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.
Touch Research Institutes
University of Miami School of Medicine
P.O. Box 016820
Miami Fl, 33101
(Located at Mailman Center for Child Development
1601 NW 12th Ave., 7th Floor, Suite 7037)