Introduction to massage
There are descriptions of many massage disciplines on offer on this website with deep massage, relaxation massage, Swedish and Thai and Ayurveda massage just a few.
This tends to be purely pleasurable, and more pampering than therapeutic.
However, touch, care and deep relaxation as found in massage are linked to increased wellbeing and a more positive outlook.
Often in our lives we are too busy and involved to stop and simply receive from another, and this kind of massage is a great way to land and get a fresh view on our lives.
This kind of massage bodywork is great for sports people and for those who have long-standing issues, such as stiff necks, chronic back pain or for those who do yoga and want to get some more freedom of movement.
As this type of massage can be painful and/or working with sensitive areas it is important to feel good about your practitioner.
Rolfing (also known as The Rolf Method of Structural Integration) was one of the first techniques to deal with structural issues such as postural habits, and tends to require a commitment to a series of 10 sessions, as the therapist works his/her way through the body in a methodical manner.
Rolfing is mainly concerned with the connective tissue in the body rather than muscles, and the effects are surprisingly powerful as physical habits are released.
Chronic conditions, like back pain after walking or prolonged standing, the neck that seizes up, the joints that get a little less flexible each year, all can be addressed by this work.
What may be diagnosed elsewhere as arthritis or other joint problems, may in fact be treated in a single session of this bodywork.
A series of sessions will leave you experiencing your body and your life in a whole new way and is recommended to do once a decade or so.
I had a series of Rolfing some years ago and some longstanding problems were simply dissolved.
Rolfing is not really massage, as the therapist does not work so much with the muscles, or to release tension, but rather deals with the underlying structural causes.
See a review of Rolfing here
Rebalancing bodywork is an offshoot of Rolfing, and while it is optimal to have a series of sessions it is quite normal and enough to have a one-off.
Rebalancing does just that, it rebalances the body, and is really good when you just need to ‘come home’ a little bit and tune in to your body, really get to know your body some more.
Rebalancing is much more like a massage compared to Rolfing.
Thai Yoga massage, Ayurveda Yoga massage and Shiatsu are all Oriental deep tissue massage techniques which combine stretching (Yoga being done to you, which is great tough can be a bit rugged!) and deep massage techniques.
Because massage has a long history in the East, so have these bodyworks evolved over hundreds of years with very strong connections with ‘alternative’ Eastern medicines such as Acupuncture or Ayurveda which, after all, have been successfully practised in Asia for thousands of years.
Thai massage and Ayurvedic massage are simply simpler versions of Thai and Ayurvedic Yoga massage.
Remedial massage is also deep, with the focus on increasing one’s sense of wellbeing as well as dealing with particular ailments.
It is amazing how simply releasing/relaxing a joint or muscle can impact upon general wellbeing.
Using lots of oil and long fluid strokes, the practitioner takes the client on quite a journey.
Lomi Lomi is a variation on Hawaiian massage and has become quite popular in recent years.
Whole person bodywork
Osteopathy and Chiropractic are whole person sciences, with deep bodywork and occasional manipulation (never essential, and the practitioners always should and do get permission first).
Skilled in many areas of wellness and bodywork, both of these type of practitioners are concerned with the wholistic health of their patient. Again, every practitioner is unique.
Western, allopathic medicine has traditionally been critical of these disciplines because their basic principles differ, but now they have become accepted as part of the mainstream health professions.
By Mark O’Brien
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