When you fancy a relaxing massage, how do you know which massage to pick before you start researching massage ads?
is the invention of the Swede Pir Henrik Ling. He used his knowledge of physiology to develop a system of treatment that combines massage with physical exercise. This became Swedish massage. Its aim is to restore good health by careful manipulation of muscles and joints.
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Manual lymphatic drainage [MLD]
is the legacy of the Danish therapist Dr. Emil Vodder and his wife Estrid since the 1930s. They discovered that gently palpating and moving the skin certainly stimulated the lymphatic system and improved congestive conditions. Hence they developed a system of treatment of the whole body. Manual lymphatic drainage has many implications from self-help for minor swellings to professional treatment of chronic oedema.
The lymphatic system picks up debris and waste products from the body’s connective tissue. It consists of a series of lymph nodes connected by lymph vessels. The nodes appear in clusters mainly around the neck, armpits, and groin. They contain white blood cells that help to fight infection by filtering out bacteria as the lymph, a watery fluid, passes through the nodes.
Healthy connective tissue nourishes every cell of the body. But when the tissue is congested, nutrition of cells and the flow of waste products to the bloodstream slow down.
When MLD stimulates the lymph system, the stagnation reverses, the body functions more healthily, and the immune system gets stronger.
Traditional eastern medicine is based on the belief that life energy flows along channels, or meridians, of the body. In traditional Chinese medicine this energy bears the name of qi. The aim of all treatments, and massage, is to create an unobstructed flow of qi in the body, hence promoting harmony and wellbeing.
There are 12 regular meridians. Each one influences a major organ and its associated functions. Two other meridians trace the midline of the front of the body – Ren (Conception vessel) and the back of the body – Du (Governing vessel). In a healthy person qi is balanced between the opposite but complementary qualities yin and yang. Yin signifies darkness, cold, passivity; yang signifies light, warmth, activity. Yin meridians run along the front of the body, the abdomen, and the inner sides of the arms and legs. Yang meridians run mainly along the back of the body and the outer sides of the arms and legs. A massage will balance the left and right sides, the top and bottom, and the front and back into a cohesive energetic whole.
The major traditional healing systems in India are Ayurveda and Unani. Both systems consider massage a vital part of life, hence a means of preventing illness, improving circulation, and attaining physical and spiritual harmony. According to both systems all living organisms are defined by fluctuating vital energies known as humours. Each humour contains a combination of five essential elements: ether, air, fire, water, earth. The purpose of all therapeutic treatments, and massage, is to bring these life forces into harmony. If the humours are out of balance, the flow of prana, an invisible life energy that enters the body through food and breath, will also be disrupted.
Most Indian massage includes work on pressure points. There’re said to be 107 points on the body. Stimulating these points with various massage techniques is believed to affect the body’s internal organs and systems. This concept is similar to that of Thai massage and shiatsu.
Good health depends on a balanced flow of life energy called prana through an invisible network of channels in the body. These channels are called sen lines and are similar to the Chinese meridians. Ten out of 72,000 sen lines in the body are the most important in Thai massage.
A Thai masseur tries to achieve perfect energy balancing by stretching the sen lines. He uses the hands, feet, and elbows to apply pressure to key points along them. The belief is that the physical body is the vehicle through which we can reach the emotional or psychic body. The masseur traditionally performs the massage in a meditative mood. He begins with a prayer and works with full awareness and mindfulness.
Eastern head massage
is immensely popular throughout the East. In India, China, Singapore, and Turkey most barbers and hairdressers will automatically offer a scalp massage. The word shampoo derives from the Hindi word capna, meaning ‘to press’ or ‘rub’. This ten-minute massage is quite energetic and done on dry hair to avoid stretching the hair.
literally translates as ‘finger pressure’. This massage evolved in Japan and has origins in traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the eastern principle that energy of life (ki in Japanese, qi in Chinese) flows through longitudinal meridians in the body. The aim is to apply pressure along these meridians to influence the flow of ki and therefore maintain harmony and good health.
is another massage based on the theory that applying pressure to specific areas of the feet and less commonly hands and ears can affect internal organs and bodily systems and therefore promote good health. It evolved from the work of an American ear/nose/throat surgeon Dr. William H. Fitzgerald. He was interested in the theory of energy lines, or meridians, and developed zone therapy around 1913. A reflexology treatment is usually immensely relaxing. Not only do most people enjoy having their feet massaged, but stimulating the extensive nerve endings in the feet is also beneficial in itself and can have profound effects throughout the body.
is a sequence of gentle kneading movements designed to send waves of relaxation through the body.
of the full body can last just 15 minutes and consists mainly of fast stroking. The vigour of the strokes forces the body and mind to let go and is therefore useful for revitalizing rushed and also hyperactive people.
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