“What style of massage do you do?”, is a question a number of my new clients tend to ask. My massage sessions always are eclectic in that they integrate various modalities depending on a client’s needs. My education at IPSB college introduced me to a wide variety of Western and Eastern modalities. I eventually chose to focus my practice around the Western modalities Circulatory, Deep Tissue, and Trigger Point. I have recently added a new focus to my practice: orthopedic assessment and massage for the forearm and hand.
Circulatory (or Swedish) is a style of massage that has a number of therapeutic benefits. Circulatory helps to release tension and stress in the body. The release of tight, constricted muscles eases pain while bringing nutrient rich blood into the muscle tissue. In his text Orthopedic Massage Whitney Lowe writes, “One of the most significant effects of massage is the encouragement of blood flow in smaller capillaries that are restricted due to muscle tightness” (Lowe, 2009). A release of tension in the body is often accompanied with a feeling of release emotionally or/and mentally (stress reduction) as well as increased clarity and energy. It has been suggested that this modality aids the lymphatic system by helping to clear out metabolic waste. While more research is needed to determine the physiological effects, it is thought that one of the primary benefits of massage is movement of tissue fluid: blood and lymph (Lowe, 2009). A variety of strokes are used. A few of these strokes are: Effleurage (long gliding strokes that move in the direction toward the heart are incorporated throughout the session), Compression, Petrissage (grasping and kneading), and Tapotement (percussion strokes). These strokes can be done with light, medium, or firm pressure.
Deep Tissue uses techniques to address the deeper layered muscles. Using no or little oil, the therapist’s tool (thumb, palm, soft fist, elbow) sinks into the muscle tissue and glides slowly along the direction of the muscle fiber. The key word here is slowly. Starting with a compression, the pressure increases as the tension in the tissue melts and dissolves. The follow stroke’s depth and speed is determined by the release of the client’s fascia and muscle tissue (Osborne – Sheets, 1997). Effleurage is a massage stroke most commonly associated with Circulatory (or Swedish) massage, but in Deep Tissue work, deep effleurage strokes can be most effective in easing out tension and helping to move tissue fluid.
Neuromuscular Therapy focuses on relief of pain that can be brought on by postural distortion, biomechanical dystunction, Ischemia, and Trigger Points. Trigger Points develop in Ischemic muscle tissue and refer pain to other areas of the body. My sessions incorporate bone cleaning (cross fiber) and Trigger Point with Circulatory massage.
Lowe, Whitney (2009). Orthopedic Massage: Theory and Technique. Mosby Elsevier.
Osborne – Sheets, Carole (1997). Deep Tissue Sculpting: A technical and Artistic Manual for Therapeutic Bodywork Practitioners. Poway, California: Body Therapy Associates.