Massage has become more mainstream. In 2009 the American Massage Therapy Association reported that the massage therapy industry was worth between $16 and $20 billion, up from $6 to $11 billion in 2005. An estimated 48 million American adults received at least one massage that year alone.
Massage Therapy techniques are often employed for specific reasons, such as relief from pain, stress reduction or the enhancement of athletic performance. Whether there is a specific goal or not, massage therapy tends to increase the general health and well being of the recipient.
The concept of massage therapy means many things to different people, but did you know that there now are more than 80 different styles and massage techniques? Some of them are ancient massage techniques, but many have been developed just in the past 30 years. Most methods involve the physical manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, and ligaments) to enhance health and well being.
To simplify, I wanted to explain various massage therapy terms and techniques to help enable you to determine which style or technique might work best for you to try.
There are two basic styles of massage. (1) The very popular relaxation style that reduces or eliminates life’s stresses and their negative impact on the body. (2) The clinical style of massage, which uses a set of specific massage techniques – in order to achieve a specific outcome. In a typical massage session, a therapist often uses more than one style of massage to address different health goals.
What are relaxation styles?
Often a more gentle style of massage, Relaxation techniques strive for the reduction of stress and their impact on the body. They also promote overall wellness, help to relax muscles and help to reduce or eliminate pain. Commonly known relaxation styles include; Swedish massage, Pregnancy massage, Infant massage, Chair massage and Spa massages.
Specific goals for relaxation massage usually include:
• The relief for tight muscles (knots) and other aches and pains
• Improvement of circulation
• The reduction of stress. depression, anxiety, and anger
• Improved sleeping patterns
• Increased energy and vitality
Clinical Massage Styles
Differing from the Relaxation styles of massage, Clinical styles focus on therapeutic goals such as releasing a muscle spasm, strengthening or stretching specific muscles that were affected by an injury, etc. They use more specific manipulation of the muscles and surrounding connective tissue and often address other systems in the body such as the lymphatic, circulatory, and nervous systems as well.
Commonly known clinical styles include; Rehabilitative, Neuromuscular therapy, Myofacial release and trigger point, Orthopedic massage, Post-surgical or injury and Sports/athletic massage.
Specific goals for clinical massage include:
• The reduction of pain
• The release of muscle tension or tightness
• The repair of injured tissues, muscles, tendons and ligaments
• The release of adhesions, scar tissue and nerve compression
• A greater body flexibility and range of motion