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An Overview of Massage Techniques

Updated on April 10, 2012

Massage techniques by Leona Stephens Ofner

Therapeutic touch in all its many forms and expressions has been a way of healing that has existed for many thousands of years. From gentle hands on healing to the more complex ways of Osteopathy,Chiropractics and Shiatsu,bodywork continues to be a highly effective way to heal the body, mind and spirit.

We all benefit from caring touch and at its most simple level, this may be all that is needed to alleviate stress and enable somebody to receive a positive flow of energy that allows self healing to occur. While both western and eastern techniques can be very technical, it is important to remember that whilst a treatment may be technically perfect, it will be empty without the ability to transmit a loving energy. We also need to use intuition to be sensitive to the receiver and how they need to be touched. It is very beneficial as a therapist to learn and understand as many different approaches as possible as while the anatomy and physiology of the human body is universal, the way that is functions and expresses itself in each individual is unique.

'Cobra' - Thai massage stretch
'Cobra' - Thai massage stretch

During the massage training DVD series ‘a Guide to Creative Massage' I will be showing how to treat the back, neck, feet and head, areas that not only hold the most stress and tension, but are intricately connected to other systems of the body and so can help to heal on both physiological, psychological and spiritual levels. I will be demonstrating how to work on the back with oil and give a basic Swedish massage, that beginners can use for their friends and family and also how to give an acupressure, meridian based treatment using a mixture of Thai massage and Shiatsu, that is more appropriate for people with some experience. I will also be introducing some of the principles and techniques of reflexology and showing how to give a basic foot massage, how to relax the muscles of the neck and introduce some cranio-sacral ideas for treating the head and person in general.

The western approach to bodywork tends to focus on working with the physical systems of the body.Swedish, Sports and Remedial massage work mainly on the musculo-skeletal system using oil based techniques such as kneading, stroking and pummeling to work into and relax the soft tissues of the body, increase circulation and thereby release muscle tension and injuries and promote general relaxation. More recently discovered techniques such as cranio-sacral therapy, with its roots in Osteopathy are much more in depth. Working  with the nervous system, the practitioner gently  senses and manipulates its’ subtle rhythms by accessing points along the spine, at the skull (cranium) and base of the spine (sacrum).

muscular system
muscular system
Swedish massage
Swedish massage

The body is a fascinating and miraculous instrument that is both immensely complex and highly intelligent . Although Eastern and Western therapies have different approaches, if we learn from both systems then we can begin to understand similarities and how important it is to combine the  knowledge and experience of both

. For instance, the Bladder and Kidney meridians of Chinese Medicine are associated with the element of water and also with  the emotion of  fear and our ability to recover from stress .  These meridians run along the spine where the nerves connect to most of the organs and also to the autonomic nervous system, which provides the body’s response to stimulus or information and controls  our fight or flight response. If we are threatened or very scared, these nerves and meridians are directly affected, adrenalin is released into the body and if we are petrified, we can lose control of the bladder completely.

Thai meridians / skeletal system
Thai meridians / skeletal system

During the ‘guide to creative massage’ DVD series, I will be instructing on how to treat the back giving both a basic Swedish massage that beginners can use to treat family and friends and an acupressure treatment combining shiatsu, Thai massage and some cranio-sacral therapy ideas. I will also explain how to give a basic reflexology treatment and show you some ways of working on the neck where so many people hold a lot of stress and tension. I’m also going to cover some simple ways to become aware of how to work intuitively. Below is a 5 minute video covering the basics of the main massage techniques covered in this article.

A guide to creative massage


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    • restrelax profile image

      restrelax 6 years ago from Los angeles CA

      Great information is given on this hub.