- An ancient Eastern (Chinese) practice dating back for thousands of years, foot reflexology is considered to be a way of natural healing. It was introduced throughout North America in the early 1900s as "zone therapy" by ear, nose and throat doctor William Fitzgerald. Zone therapy was expanded with the creation of the "foot map," and the process formally became known as reflexology.
- The foot map identifies specific areas of the foot believed to be related to particular organs, glands and other areas of the body, and reflexologists use the map as a guide to promote healing, general wellness and relaxation for the body. Foot reflexology is a process where pressure is applied to a targeted area on the foot, much like acupressure, and the ill symptoms plaguing the associated body part/organ are relieved. The pressure is designed to affect the nerve endings and reflexes versus the skin surface or muscles, as in massage.
- Known benefits of foot reflexology include relaxation and relief of stress; promotion of restful sleep; assistance with elimination or reduction of digestive problems; overall wellness and improved mental health; and pain management for chronic or acute pain. Less obvious benefits resulting from foot reflexology include reduction of reliance on prescription and over-the-counter drug remedies, savings on overall health care expenses and greater enjoyment in life by alleviating some of life's common stressors noted above.
- Although there are improved conditions reported by people suffering from various medical conditions, there remains a lack of scientific evidence and case studies to definitively conclude that the healing or remission of disease is directly related to reflexology. While there are some case studies on the books, they are limited by the number of participants; therefore, the quality of the results cannot be measured. Moreover, it is recommended that pregnant women, people with foot problems and vascular disease not participate in foot reflexology.
- Many reflexologists are self-taught and license requirements vary by state; they are even nonexistent in some. Because the practice is nonregulated for the most part, you may find it challenging to locate a reflexologist. If you run into problems finding one, many spas and massage therapist may be of assistance; otherwise, there are two organizations available that can assist in the referral of a reflexologists: International Institute of Reflexology and the Reflexology Association of America.
Deep Tissue Massage:
Deep Tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is also not uncommon for receivers of Deep Tissue Massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly. What one calls deep tissue another will call light. When receiving deep tissue work it is important to communicate what you are feeling.
The term “deep tissue” is often misused to identify a massage that is performed with sustained deep pressure. Deep Tissue massage is a separate category of massage therapy, used to treat particular muscular-skeletal disorders and complaints, and employing a dedicated set of techniques and strokes to achieve a measure of relief. It should not be confused with “deep pressure” massage, which is one that is performed with sustained strong, occasionally intense pressure throughout an entire full-body session, and not to address a specific complaint. It just so happens that Deep Tissue massage is applied to both the superficial and deep layers of muscles, fascia and other structures. The sessions are often quite intense as a result of the deliberate, focused work. When a client asks for a massage and uses the term “deep tissue”, more often than not he or she is seeking to receive a full-body session with sustained deep pressure throughout. If a practitioner employs Deep Tissue techniques, in fact, on the entire body in one session it would not only be next to impossible to perform; it might lead to injury or localized muscle and nerve trauma, thereby rendering the session counterproductive.
What is Sports Massage?
Sports Massage is a special form of massage and is typically used before, during, and after athletic events. The purpose of the massage is to prepare the athlete for peak performance, to drain away fatigue, to relieve swelling, to reduce muscle tension, to promote flexibility and to prevent injuries.
Purpose of Sports Massage
The main purpose of sports massage therapy is to help alleviate the stress and tension which builds up in the body’s soft tissues during physical activity. Where minor injuries and lesions occur, due to overexertion and/or overuse, massage can break them down quickly and effectively. The massage will help prepare the athlete for peak performance, to drain away fatigue, to relieve swelling, to reduce muscle tension, to promote flexibility and to prevent injuries. Sports massage can help prevent those niggling injuries that so often get in the way of performance and achievement, whether a person is an athlete or a once a week jogger.
Types of Techniques
Depending on the needs of the athlete, a variety of techniques are used. The technique often involves a blend of traditional Swedish Massage and Shiatsu specifically designed to treat professional athletes.
Each type of sport has different demands on the players. Each sport uses muscle groups in a different way. Sports massage is designed to address those specific concerns and may differ according to the sport the athlete plays. Sports massage can be aimed to help heal strained muscles and allow healthy ones to reach peak performance and maintain it while minimizing the risk of injury.
Benefits of Sports Massage
Sports massage has many benefits. In addition to FEELING GOOD, sports massage reduces the heart rate and blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, reduces muscle tension, improves flexibility, and relieves pain. Each sport and athletic event uses muscle groups in a different way.
Sports Massage can also include pre-event, post-event and maintenance techniques that promote greater athletic endurance and performance, lessen chances of injury and reduce recovery time.
Researchers have been studying the medical, physical, and emotional benefits of therapeutic massage since the late 1800s. Their findings suggest that massage is beneficial in many daily aspects of human life. This article discusses the many proven benefits of therapeutic massage:
Stress and Anxiety Reduction
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), therapeutic massage has been found to foster peace of mind, promote a relaxed state of mental alertness, help relieve mental stress, improve ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately, reduce levels of anxiety, and increase awareness of mind-body connection. Studies have shown that medical students who were massaged before an exam experienced a significant decrease in anxiety and respiratory rates. Cancer patients were found to have a similar reduction of anxiety levels.
Focus and Attention
Research studies have found that office workers who receive regular massages perform better at their job tasks than those who did not receive regular massages. Additionally, office workers who were regularly massaged were more alert and less stressed than those who weren't regularly massaged. Another study performed on autistic children showed that massage could promote a reduction in the erratic behavior common among autistic individuals.
It's fairly common for pregnant women to undergo massage therapy in order to alleviate the discomfort associated with pregnancy. Additionally, athletes frequently get massaged to alleviate muscle pain. Massage has been proven to reduce the pain and swelling caused by strained muscles and sprained ligaments. Additionally, it helps to relieve tension-related headaches and headaches related to eye strain.
Rehabilitation and Healing
Therapeutic massage can stimulate weak and inactive muscles resulting in a faster, more complete recovery from an illness or injury in which inactivity causes muscle deterioration. Massage has also been shown to promote weight gain in both premature and HIV-exposed infants.
Massage improves blood circulation and lymph fluid movement. It decreases blood pressure and strengthens the immune system. People who receive regular massages have greater joint flexibility and range of motion. Massage enhances athletic performance, promotes deeper and easier breathing, enhances the health and nourishment of the skin, and improves posture.
While the physical benefits of therapeutic massage are great, perhaps the most notable effects of therapeutic massage are its emotional benefits. Many of the ailments found among persons in today's society are stress-related. Massage has been found to be extremely effective in stress and anxiety reduction, and it has also been proven to reduce the symptoms and feelings of depression. In fact, studies have shown that women who had recently experienced the death of a child were less depressed after being massaged. People who rely on prescription medications to relieve symptoms of anxiety or depression may benefit by indulging in a weekly massage session.
What is pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage is massage therapy specifically tailored for the expectant mother's needs. It is also called pre-natal massage.
How is pregnancy massage different from regular massage?
The mother's body must be properly positioned and supported during the massage, using pillows and padding. Proper positioning ensures comfort and safety for the mother and baby.
Also, some massage techniques, such as deep tissue work, cannot be used. Certain areas of the body should be avoided during pregnancy.
What are the benefits of pregnancy massage?
Pregnancy massage has been found to reduce stress, decrease swelling in the arms and legs, and relieve aches and pains in muscles and joints.
It's a popular complementary therapy during pregnancy for back pain, when choices for pain relief, such as medication, are often limited.
Not only can massage be physically beneficial, but the human touch can be comforting and provide emotional support during pregnancy.
Massage therapy has been found to reduce anxiety and depression.
Who do I go to for pregnancy massage?
Look for a massage therapist who is certified in pregnancy massage.
That means that the therapist has had specialized training in pregnancy massage, and knows what is safe for the mother and baby.
Many massage therapists do not recommend massage in the first trimester.
Also, women with certain health conditions may not be able to have pregnancy massage.
It's best to consult your doctor and a certified pregnancy massage therapist.