Tag Archives: injuries

THE SPORTS MASSAGE

Describing it in a nutshell, the Sports Massage is a specialty massage technique that was created and developed with athletes in mind. And as such, the Sports Massage prepares the bodies of professional and amateur sportspersons for their best possible performance before participating in a sport and it then helps their bodies to recover afterwards. However, just because the Sports Massage was designed for those participating in sports, you do not have to be an athlete to reap the benefits from it. After all, athletes are not the only people who get injured and they by no means hold the monopoly on pain.

The Sports Massage is, in effect, one of several forms of the Swedish massage and it promotes an increased circulation of blood and lymph fluids in the body. To break down or dissolve adhesions, which are painful clumps or knots within the muscles, and to widen the range of motion of stiffened joints, trigger point therapy is incorporated as part of the Sports Massage session. There are four different types of Sports Massage therapies and their distinction is made primarily by its time of performance in relations to the athletes sport activity. In other words, it is mainly their timing which makes them different from one another. The four types of Sports Massages are designated as follows:

* Pre-Event Sports Massage. The Pre-Event Sport Massage is a vigorous but shortened massage treatment that lasts anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes and is performed right before the sports event. Its main focus is on those specific parts of the athletes body which will be most intensively involved in the action.

* Post-Event Sports Massage. The Post-Event Sport Massage is performed within an hour or two of the event and its aim is to return bodies to their normal state by helping them recover from the hard work in the shortest time possible.

* Restorative Sports Massage. The Restorative Sports Massage is applied while the athlete is in training and it helps him or her practice harder while, at the same time, decreasing the chances of incurring injuries.

* Rehabilitative Sports Massage. The Rehabilitative Sports Massage is there to pick up the proverbial pieces by treating the injuries which resulted from the exertion of the sport. The foremost objective of Rehabilitative Sports Massage is to relieve pain and to return the body to its former, pre-injury state.

So, whether you are a professional or an amateur athlete or simply a citizen of the world who happens to have a precise problem such as a sore knee from your morning jog around the block or a frozen should because you slept on the wrong side of the bed or a stiff back because you forgot to use your legs when lifting the grocery back and so on, do yourself a favor and see a Sports Massage therapist. And the best way to find one is by getting referrals from reliable sources or by doing some research. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) and the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) suggests that you ask the following questions when interviewing a potential Sports Massage therapist or any other type of massage therapist, for that matter:

* Did you graduate from a program accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA)?
* Are you licensed or registered as a massage therapist in this state?
* Are you certified by the national Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB)?
* Do you have training in any specific massage modalities?

Beyond all that, you should just relax and enjoy the process while your body is being directed onto the path of healing.

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THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY

In an attempt to understand how and why massage therapy is as effective as it seems to be, scientists and medical researchers from around the world have been studying it for decades. Some characteristics of massage therapy have been conclusively resolved with apparent consensus among the learned scholars, while other characteristics remain as inexplicably mysterious as ever. For instance, they all agree that when a certain amount of pressure is applied to a soft tissue such as a muscle, some changes occur within the affected muscles. They also all tend to agree that massage therapy promotes relaxation and reduces the stress which often leads to deterioration or worsening of certain physiological conditions.

Those characteristics of massage therapy which have not yet been explained by conventional science, gave rise to a number of theories and postulates. You will note that they are all prefaced with the word might to indicate uncertainty as they described possible health benefits of massage therapy:

* Might provide stimulation that may help block pain signals transmitted to the brain and this is called the gate control theory of decreasing or alleviating pain.

* Might promote better health by stimulating the lymphatic system to increase the flow of lymph, which is the secretion that carries disease fighting cells through the body.

* Might re-route the clients nervous system away from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic. In doing so, the fight-or-flight reaction of the sympathetic nervous system with its increased heart and breathing rates along with tightened muscles of distress are shunned in favor of the rest-and-digest reaction of the parasympathetic nervous system with its lowered heart rate, slowed breathing and relaxed muscles.

* Might be instrumental in effecting beneficial changes in the body by preventing fibrosis through the process of breaking up scar-like tissue

* Might arouse the body to discharge chemicals such as serotonin or endorphins which area known to give people the feelings of wellbeing.

* Might improve sleep patterns which is essential to pain control and healing processes.

* Might contribute to the overall mental and physiological health by the intimate interaction between the client and the therapist.

The following are specific cases and their reported benefits whether they are understood or merely observed with bewilderment:

* Students at a New Jersey Medical School who were given massage therapy before an exam displayed less anxiety, lower respiratory rates, a substantial increase in white blood cells and an enhanced immune system.

* Cancer patients at the James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio experienced less pain and decreased anxiety after receiving massage therapies than those who did not get such treatments.

* Studies at the University of South Carolina show that women who recently lost a child were less depressed after massage therapy.

* The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that massage therapy improved weight gain in infants who were premature or those who were exposed to HIV. They also determined that massage therapy expedites recovery in patients who had abdominal surgery.

* Researchers at the University of the Miami School of Medicines Touch Research Institute discovered that massage therapy decreases high blood pressure, relieves migraine headaches, and generally increases alertness and performance in the workforce.

* Many additional studies confirm that massage therapy reduces heart rates, lowers blood pressure; increases blood circulation and lymph flow; relaxes stiffened and tense muscles while stimulating weak and inactive muscles to compensate for lack of movement due to an illness or an injury; speeds up the healing process after surgeries, disease and injuries; improves the range of vision; increases endorphins; reduces anxiety, tension, depression, pain and itching in burn patients; and Autistic children exhibit calmer and more predictable behavior.

So, is massage therapy beneficial? Yes! Massage therapy is beneficial on, oh, so many levels. The mechanics of the process may not be clear just yet, but the outcomes are undeniable by anyones standards.

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THE DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE

The deep tissue massage is a kind of massage therapy which centers its attention primarily on the ailing, the sore, the painful and the distressed deeper layers of muscles and connective tissues. Its therapeutic benefits are particularly beneficial for chronically tight and constricted areas such as in cases of stiff necks, tightness of lower backs and aching shoulders. The strokes of the Deep Tissue massage are not very different from those of any other types of massage therapies but they are slower and with more pressure applied to reach deeper while focusing on troubled areas.

The Deep Tissue massage is so important in certain painful contractions and spasms due to stress, strain or injury because that is the only way to get to the root of the problem as it is embedded deep under the surface where adhesions which are the causes of the pain and rigidity in muscles, tendons and ligaments are found. Left to their own wills, adhesions obstruct circulation in the affected areas to limit the blood flow which leads to the pain, the restricted movement and, ultimately, to the inflammation. By applying firm pressure and direct friction across the grain and fabric of the muscles, the Deep Tissue massage aims to break down those troublesome adhesions to restore proper blood circulation, reinstate full movement and heal the inflamed tissues. The therapists performing the Deep Tissue massage may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows and forearms during the therapy session and alternate them during the various stages. Clients are frequently asked to take in deep breaths as the therapists dig deeply into a particularly tense area.

Because the Deep Tissue massage is somewhat intense, it should not be applied under the following conditions:

* Infectious skin disease, rashes, bruises, inflamed skin, tumors or open and unhealed wounds.
* Immediately or soon after surgery or recent fractures.
* Immediately or soon after chemotherapy or radiation treatments, unless approved by the clients physician.
* Osteoporosis patients, unless approved by the treating doctor.
* Clients who are prone to blood clots.
* Heart disease patients, unless recommended by their cardiologists.
* Pregnant women should get their massage treatments from professionals who are certified in pregnancy massage.
* Abdominal hernia.

The good news is that Deep Tissue massage really works and it usually works very fast. Often, clients will walk into a session with excruciating pain and walk out a couple of hours later with smiles of relief on their faces. The bad news is that, depending on their tolerance level to pain, most clients experience it to one degree or another at certain point during the session. In addition, there is usually some measure of soreness immediately after the treatment which can last up to an entire day. However, the pain of the Deep Tissue massage therapy and the lingering soreness afterwards is nothing compared to the pain before the treatment and it comes with the knowledge that it will all be over very shortly. The massage therapist may suggest applying an icepack to the sore area but it is rarely severe enough to warrant it.

When most massage therapies are aimed at relaxation of the body and mind and the massage is generally applied to the entire body, the Deep Tissue massage sets its sights on precise problematic areas such as those afflicted with:

* Chronic or acute pains
* Diminished mobility or limited range of motion.
* Healing areas after traumas or injuries caused by falls, sports injuries, whiplashes from car accidents and so on.
* Strains from repetitive motion such as the carpal tunnel syndrome.
* Pains due to incorrect posturing of the body.
* Pains from osteoarthritis. According to a study conducted and reported by the Consumer Reports magazine, over 34,000 people classified Deep Tissue massage therapy as being more effective in alleviating osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescribed or over-the-counter drugs, glucosamine, diets, acupuncture or chiropractic treatments.
* Fibromyalgia. Statistics have shown that Deep Tissue massage is more successful in easing symptoms of Fibromyalgia than any other available curative remedy.
* Muscle tension, contractions or spasms.

To flush out metabolic waste from the massaged tissues, clients should drink plenty of water after the Deep Tissue massage therapy and enjoy the fact that they are as good as new again.

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THE BALINESE MASSAGE THERAPY

Having originated on the exotic island of Bali, the Balinese massage therapy is one of a number of ancient traditional massage techniques of Indonesia which had been carried down from one generation to another as a method of curing a wide variety of complaints. The Balinese massage is extraordinarily unique in that it brings together several alternative medicine practices such as massage therapy, acupressure, reflexology and aromatherapy with the use of essential oils scented with striking aromas of jasmine, rose, sandalwood, coconut, cempaka, sandat or frangipani into a single massage session. As it is true with most massage techniques, the Balinese massage strives to reach the ultimate state of relaxation of the body and the mind. What sets it apart is that the Balinese believe that, in order to attain that heightened state of relaxation, blood and oxygen must flow freely and only then will the gi or energy flow without restraints as well.

The Balinese massage therapy is performed on a conventional massage table or on a soft mat on the floor and a great deal of attention is paid to the scented oils which are generally applied at room temperature. For restorative purposes of an ailing or painful body part, warmed oil with an added mixture of lemon grass, cloves or ginger is applied. Overall, the bouquet of fragrances used in the Balinese massage therapy is intended to induce relaxation, to promote indulgence of the body and to drive away nervousness and unhealthful tension.

To reach the deeper tissues of the muscles, the Balinese massage therapist alternately applies vigorous kneading, cross fiber mobilization as well as skin rolling with gentle motions to every muscle of the body. To enhance results with long lasting effects, robust acupressure movements such as hardy press point and strong palm pressure are generously applies in addition to the prevailing massage techniques such as sliding, long and short exploration and manipulating.

The Balinese massage therapy is far from being gentle or delicate and it is, therefore, time and time again compared to Ayurveda, an Indian holistic medicinal method which is considered by most as being extremely intense. And it is due to the inherent intensity of the Balinese massage, that this therapy is so successful in reaching deep into tense and strained muscles to sooth and calm their spasms. As a matter of fact, the Balinese massage therapy is quite frequently prescribed for sports injuries as well as for stiff and achy joints due to various injuries or ailments, for easing migraines and other kinds of headaches, for relieving sleep deprivation and insomnia, for mitigating chronic and acute breathing maladies due to allergies and asthma, for boosting blood circulation and the lymphatic system, as well as for alleviating stress and easing anxiety and depression. In essence, the Balinese massage is a rigorous yet lavish therapeutic system that aims to bring the body and mind in full synchronization of optimal health, well being, tranquility and spiritual renewal.

In preparation for a Balinese massage treatment, you should give yourself plenty of time to savor the entire experience and its afterglow. Under certain circumstances, your massage therapist may need to modify the treatment or the oils which are used and you should, for that reason, let him or her know if you:

* Know that you are pregnant or think you might be.
* Have any pains or stiffness in your joints or limbs.
* Have had a recent injury or underwent surgery.
* Are suffering from high or low blood pressure.
* Have any kind of heart problems or any other medical condition and are going through some form of treatment.

Bali is just one island out of the 17,508 islands which comprise the Republic of Indonesia, a nation located in Southeast Asia and the worlds largest archipelagic state. Many of the other Indonesian islands adopted their own massage techniques which are similar to the Balinese massage in their endeavor to heal the physical body and the spiritual mind, yet they are also distinct and bear their own unique characteristics. And they are:

* Sasak massage.
* Lombok massage.
* Urat massage.
* Balinese Boreh. A paste of ground spices is used to relieve pain and this massage technique was conceived by local rice farmers.
* Javenese Lulur Ritual. This is customarily executed on brides in preparation of their wedding day.

Have you decided to give the Balinese massage a try? Good choice! Relax, enjoy the process and come out smelling heavenly.

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