in Maryland by County:
service the following counties in Maryland:
Arundel County, Maryland
Baltimore County, Maryland
Carroll County, Maryland
Frederick County, Maryland
Howard County, Maryland
Massage Therapists in
massage therapy Ashton Sandy Spring
massage therapy Aspen Hill
massage therapy Bethesda
massage therapy Brookmont
massage therapy Brookville
massage therapy Burtonsville
massage therapy Cabin John
massage therapy Calverton
massage therapy Chevy Chase
massage therapy Clarksburg
massage therapy Cloverly Colesville
massage therapy Darnestown
massage therapy Fairland
massage therapy Forest Glen
massage therapy Gaithersburg
massage therapy Germantown
massage therapy Glen Echo
massage therapy Hillandale
massage therapy Kemp Mill
massage therapy Kensington
massage therapy Montgomery-Village Olney
massage therapy Potomac
massage therapy Redland
massage therapy Rockville
massage therapy Silver Spring
massage therapy Somerset
massage therapy Takoma Park
massage therapy Travilah
massage therapy Washington-Grove
massage therapy Wheaton-Glenmont
in Howard County, Maryland
massage therapy Clarksville
massage therapy Columbia
massage therapy Cooksville
massage therapy Daniels
massage therapy Dayton
massage therapy Elkridge
massage therapy Ellicott City
massage therapy Florence
massage therapy Font Hill Manor Fulton
massage therapy Glenelg
massage therapy Glenwood
massage therapy Guilford
massage therapy Harwood Park
massage therapy Highland
massage therapy Ilchester
massage therapy Jessup
massage therapy Laurel
massage therapy Lisbon
massage therapy Marriottsville
massage therapy Oella
massage therapy Poplar Springs
massage therapy Savage
massage therapy Scaggsville
massage therapy Simpsonville
massage therapy West Friendship
massage therapy College Park
massage therapy Woodstock
in Carroll County, Maryland
massage therapy Eldersburg
massage therapy Hampstead
massage therapy Manchester
massage therapy Mount Airy
massage therapy New Windsor
massage therapy Sykesville
massage therapy Taneytown
massage therapy Union Bridge
massage therapy Westminster
Anne Arundel County,
massage therapy Annapolis
massage therapy Arden
massage therapy Arnold
massage therapy Cape St. Claire
massage therapy Crofton
massage therapy Crownsville
massage therapy Deale
massage therapy Davidsonville
massage therapy Fair Haven
massage therapy Fort Meade
massage therapy Friendship
massage therapy Gambrills
massage therapy Glen Burnie
massage therapy Herald Harbor
massage therapy Millersville
massage therapy Odenton
massage therapy Pasadena
massage therapy Riva
massage therapy Severn
massage therapy Severna Park
in Frederick County, Maryland
massage therapy Brunswick
massage therapy Burkittsville
massage therapy Emmitsburg
massage therapy Frederick
massage therapy Jefferson
massage therapy Middletown
massage therapy Mount Airy
massage therapy Myersville
massage therapy New Market
massage therapy Point of Rocks
massage therapy Thurmont
massage therapy Urbana
massage therapy Walkersville
massage therapy Woodsboro
Baltimore County, Maryland
massage therapy Arbutus
massage therapy Baltimore
massage therapy Canton
massage therapy Carney
massage therapy Carroll
massage therapy Dundalk
massage therapy Essex
massage therapy Elkridge
massage therapy Garrison
massage therapy Kenwood
massage therapy Overlea
massage therapy Owings Mills
massage therapy Parkville
massage therapy Pikesville
massage therapy Randallstown
massage therapy Reisterstown
massage therapy Rosedale
massage therapy Timonium
massage therapy Towson
massage therapy Villa Nova
massage therapy White Marsh
About Massage Therapy****
What Is Massage
Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, with
references in medical texts nearly 4,000 years old. In fact, Hippocrates, known
as the "father of medicine," referenced massage when he wrote, in the 4th
century B.C.: "The physician must be acquainted with many things, and assuredly
Now days, in addition to "rubbing," massage therapy, often referred to as
bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to
the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed
or movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and
compression using primarily the hands, although massage therapists do use other
areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. All of the techniques
are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous,
and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences
the overall health and well-being of the client:
Physical and Mental
relaxes the whole body
loosens tight muscles
relieves tired and aching muscles
increases flexibility and range of motion
diminishes chronic pain
calms the nervous system
lowers blood pressure
lowers heart rate
enhances skin tone
assists in recovery from injuries and illness
strengthens the immune system
reduces tension headaches
reduces mental stress
promotes restful sleep
aids in mental relaxation
Currently, there are well over 100,000 massage therapists practicing in the
United States alone. Training requirements vary from state to state, although an
increasing number of schools and states recommend massage therapy programs of at
least 500 hours training. As of March 2004, 33 states and the District of
Columbia have official massage licensing regulations, and other states are
Learn more about specific massage techniques and related terms by clicking on
the links below (Note: New techniques and terms are added on a continuing
Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy
Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy
Connective Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage
Lymph Drainage Therapy
Manual Lymph Drainage
Rolfing (Structural Integration)
Soft Tissue Massage
Traditonal Chinese Medicine
Trigger Point Therapy
Acupressure is an ancient form of healing believed by some to be even older than
acupuncture. It involves the use of the fingers (and in some cases, the toes) to
press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body's natural
ability to heal itself. Pressing on these points relieves muscle tension, which
promotes the circulation of blood and qi (pronounced "chee") -- the vital energy
or "life force" -- to aid in the healing process.
Acupressure and acupuncture are somewhat similar. Acupressure is sometimes
referred to as "needleless acupuncture," because both forms of healing use the
same points to achieve the desired results. The main difference is that an
acupuncturist stimulates points by inserting needles, whereas an acupressurist
stimulates the same points using finger pressure.
Stimulating specific points on the body can trigger the release of endorphins
(chemicals produced by the body that relieve pain). When endorphins are
released, pain is blocked, and the flow of blood and oxygen to the affected area
is increased. This causes the muscles to relax and promotes healing. In
acupressure, as with most traditional Chinese medicine concepts, local symptoms
are considered an expression of the whole body's condition.
When performed correctly, acupressure increases circulation, reduces tension and
enables the body to relax. Reducing tension, in turn, strengthens the immune
system and promotes wellness. However, applying acupressure too abruptly, or
using too much force during treatment, can lead to bruising and discomfort.
Great care should be used when applying pressure to points on or near the
abdomen, groin, armpits or throat. Special care should be when treating pegnant
women or those with recently-formed scars, burns, infections or skin lesions.
Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the
world. Originating in China some 3,500 years ago, only in the last three decades
has it become popular in the United States.
Traditional Chinese medicine asserts that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture
points on the human body, which are connected by 20 pathways (12 main, 8
secondary) called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or qi (pronounced "chee"),
between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a
different effect on the qi that passes through it. Qi is believed to help
regulate balance in the body. It is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and
yang, which represent positive and negative energy and forces in the universe
and human body. Acupuncture is believed to keep the balance between yin and
yang, thus allowing for the normal flow of qi throughout the body and restoring
health to the mind and body.
Several theories have been presented as to exactly how acupuncture works. One
theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or
brain at various "gates" to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points
are either connected to (or are located near) neural structures, this suggests
that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system. Another theory suggests that
acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances called
endorphins, which reduce pain. Other studies have found that other
pain-relieving substances called opiods may be released into the body during
Unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and hair-thin, and they
are not designed to cut the skin. They are also inserted to much more shallow
levels than hypodermic needles, generally no more than a half-inch to an inch
depending on the type of treatment being delivered. While each person
experiences acupuncture differently, most people feel only a minimal amount of
pain as the needles are inserted. Some people reportedly feel a sensation of
excitement, while others feel relaxed. If you experience significant pain from
the needles, it may be a sign that the procedure is being done improperly.
According to Alexander Technique International, the Alexander Technique "is a
means of consciously attending to how one performs any given activity,
consciously inhibiting one's habitual way of doing that activity, and then
consciously directing oneself in a more coordinated way."*
Developed by Austrailian performer F.M. Alexander in the late 19th Century, the
Alexander Technique is unlike massage or bodywork that is used to treat specific
conditions, illnesses or ailments; rather, it is a form of education designed to
improve one's self-observation in relation to movement.
Instructors of the Alexander Technique, use noninvasive hands-on methods to
assess movement, then educate students on how to become more aware of their
movement and enact specific changes in order to reduce physical stress on the
body and/or improve performance.
Like humans, animals are susceptible to injury, debilitating disease and stress,
and can benefit from massage. Massage therapists have built entire practices
around horses (Equine massage), dogs and cats; some practitioners even work with
birds and domesticated reptiles.
In addition to making house calls, therapists that work with animals work in
veterinary offices, and with police departments, animal shelters and breeders.
Working animals -- such as horses, and police and show dogs -- can benefit from
massage on a regular basis; however, massage is also beneficial for house pets,
and can ease arthritis and muscle pain, and increase flexibility and range of
motion. Other benefits include detoxification, increased mobility, improved
performance and decreased anxiety.
Many essential oils that are derived from plants, herbs, flowers, and roots have
beneficial therapeutic qualities. Aromatherapy involves the "burning" of
essential oils to elicit a desired effect; for example, lavendar is known to
induce calmness and relaxation. When combined with bodywork, aromatherapy can
enrich the massage experience immensely. A few drops of essential oil can be
added to massage cream or oil and applied to the skin. Professionally trained
aromatherapists also blend oils to treat specific conditions. Only experienced
professionals and/or those knowledable in the properties of aromatherapy should
attempt to blend oils or utilize them in practice, as some oil combinations can
be toxic, while others can burn the skin.
For more detailed information about aromatherapy, visit the Aromatherapy Center
Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy was developed in 1995 by massage therapist Ruthie
Hardee. Ashiatsu comes from the Japanese words ashi (foot) and atsu (pressure),
and is an ancient form of bodywork associated with traditional shiatsu and some
dynamics of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
There are distinct differences between Ashiatsu and Ashiatsu Oriental Bar
Therapy. Clients lie on massage tables, while practitioners perform Swedish
massage with their feet by utilizing two overhead stationary bars to maintain
balance and control.
Because therapists can also perform deep-tissue work using Ashiatsu Oriental Bar
Therapy, this technique can help extend a therapist's career by alleviating hand
and extremity pain associated with performing more demanding forms of bodywork.
Asian bodywork is a general term that describes multiple forms of bodywork that
originated from Asian countries and/or cultures, including acupressure, chi nei
tsang, Five-Element Shiatsu, integrative eclectic shiatsu, Japanese shiatsu,
medical qigong, shiatsu, Thai massage, tuina, zen shiatsu and others.
For more information on Asian Bodywork, visit www.massagetoday.com/selectarticles/asian1.php.
Ayurveda is a practice that originated in India several thousand years ago. The
practice involves balancing the three life energy forces: vata, pitta, and kapha.
Vata is the energy of movement; pitta, the energy of digestion; and kapha is the
energy of structure. These energy forms are made up of the componenets and
combinations of the five great elements: Space, Fire, Water, Air and Earth.
Ayurvedic massage incorporates the knowledge of ayurveda and uses warm oils and
herbs along the specific energy points to help restore balance to the body.
Massage strokes, oils and herbs are selected based on a client's specific needs;
hence, each treatment is highly customized. Benefits of ayurvedic massage
include vitality, stress reduction, and relaxation. Proponents of ayurveda also
report a renewed sense of spiritual connection and inner peace.
Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®
Developed in 1976 by physical fitness expert Bonnie Prudden, this technique
seeks to eliminate pain by applying steady pressure to trigger points for
several seconds using the fingers, knuckles, and elbows, and then applying
specific stretching and exercise techniques to further facilitate recovery.
Among other benefits, this technique helps alleviate pain, relax muscles, and
improve circulation and flexibility.
The Bowen technique, as its name suggests, was developed over 30 years ago by
Thomas Bowen. It involves the application of light touch and "rolling" strokes
using the thumbs and fingers. This technique works to manipulate the soft
tissues to aid in circulation, lymph drainage, and release energy blockages,
among other things.
Breema is unusual because it is designed with both the client and practitioner
in mind. Clients lie on a floor mat and remain fully clothed while the
practitioner applies gentle stretching and holding techniques to support the
client's vitality, inner peace and well being.
For more on Breema, read Dave Pratt's article "Stay in Touch With...Breema" in
the May issue of Massage Today at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/05/05.html.
Chair massage, also known as seated massage, is fast becoming one of the most
popular ways in which to practice. Generally, chair massage is administered
onsite at various locations, including health fairs, airports, shopping malls
and in corporate settings. Clients remain fully clothed and treatments generally
last from 15-30 minutes. Chair massage is usually limited to the back, neck and
For more on Chair Massage, read Lee Chaffee's article "Stuck in Seated
Positioning with Chair Massage?" in the August issue of Massage Today at
Color therapy is a form of energy work based on the theory that light
deprivation leads to dysfunction in the body. Since each color has its own
frequency and vibration, specific colors are used to treat designated parts of
the body. The body, in turn, responds to the vibrational pattern of the color
and works to correct the dysfunction.
Connective tissue massage is similar to myofascial release in that it involves
working with the body's fascia, or soft tissue, to relieve pain, tightness, and
discomfort. The idea behind connective tissue massage is that restriction in one
area of the body negatively affects other areas of the body. Practitioners of
this technique "hook" their fingers into the connective tissue and utilize
pulling strokes to lengthen the area. Benefits include pain reduction, tension
relief, improved mobility and stress reduction. See also Soft-tissue massage.
CranioSacral Therapy was developed over 20 years ago by Dr. John Upledger, while
he served as a researcher and professor at Michigan State University. This
gentle, hands-on technique involves the craniosacral system -- a system of the
body composed of membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain and
spinal cord. Practitioners utilize CST to loosen and release restrictions or
"blockages" in the body that can contribute to pain and dysfunction; removing
such blockages improves the functioning of the central nervous system and body
as a whole.
CST is effective at treating a number of problems, including pain, headaches,
central nervous system disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, stress, tension and
more. Proponents of CST also claim that it aids in improving mental clarity and
For more information on this technique, visit www.massagetoday.com/selectarticles/cst.php.
Massage cupping has been used in traditional Chinese medicine practices for
several thousand years. Practitioners light an alcohol-soaked cotton ball with a
match and insert the lit portion into a bulb-like glass "cup" in order to create
a vacuum. The cup is then placed in a stationary position upon the body or moved
using gliding strokes, depending on the client's needs. Massage cupping is ideal
for performing deep-tissue massage and helps to drain toxins, loosen adhesions,
facilitate blood flow, and stimulate the body.
For more information on massage cupping, read Anita Shannon's article, Massage
Cupping for Health Care Professionals," in the February 2004 issue of Massage
Today at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/02/04.html.
Deep-tissue massage utilizes slow strokes, direct pressure or friction applied
across the grain of the muscles with the fingers, thumbs or elbows. Deep-tissue
massage works deeply into the muscles and connective tissue to release chronic
aches and pains; its purpose is to reach the fascia beneath the surface muscles.
Practitioners must have a thorough understanding of the human body and have been
trained to administer deep-tissue massage, as injury can occur if the technique
is not performed properly. This technique is useful in treating chronic pain,
inflammation and injury.
This term refers to the practice of massage therapy on horses. Benefits include
increased flexibility, injury prevention, pain relief, and improved performance,
among others. (See animal massage).
The Feldenkrais Method®, named for its founder, Moshe Feldenkrais, DSc, is a
form of education related to body movement. Unlike massage, which is used to
treat specific conditions, Feldenkrais is based on the notion that replacing bad
movement habits (usually learned early in life) with good ones through increased
self-awareness, leads to improvements in flexibility, coordination, range of
motion, relaxation, and a range of other things.
Instructors teach students in groups, known as "awareness through movement"
classes or in private settings, called "functional integration" sessions, and
use gentle hands-on or verbal communication to draw attention to positive
In traditional shiatsu, practitioners apply pressure to specific points on the
body to help release energy imbalances. Five-element shiatsu incorporates the
five-element theory of traditional Chinese medicine in which the meridians on
the body correspond to specific elements -- Wood, Earth, Fire, Water, and Metal
-- and are the foundation for the balance of ying and yang. When one or more of
these elements is out of balance, sickness and/or emotional imbalance can occur.
Practitioners of five-element shiatsu apply pressure along the meridians in
order to release energy blockages and help restore balance to the body and
enhance the body's ability to heal itself.
For more information on this and other forms of Asian Bodywork, visit
Geriatric massage involves treating the elderly, often in resident-care
facilities, and addressing their needs related to aging, depression and illness.
Geriatric massage is usually shorter in duration, and involves the application
of gentle techniques to facilitate pain relief, relaxation, and an overall
feeling of wellness.
Hellerwork is concerned with emphasizing the body's structural balance and
realignment through deep-tissue work and movement therapy techniques. Hellerwork
is administered over the course of 11 sessions, each lasting 90 minutes.
Practitioners spend one hour massaging clients and 30 minutes in movement
education. During the treatment, practitioners help clients reach an elevated
state of self-awareness by using verbal communication. Hellerwork is useful in
treating chronic stress and tension, as well as aiding in relaxation and
extended range of motion.
- Hydrotherapy involves the use of water in all its forms (internally and
externally) to assist in the healing process. These water therapies can include
the use of a whirlpool, the application of ice or heat packs, colonic
irrigation, steambaths, body wraps and more. Hydrotherapy is commonly practiced
in conjunction with other spa treatments.
Infant massage has proved beneficial for both infants and their families on a
number of levels. It is used regularly in hospital neonatal units and has been
linked with helping premature infants gain weight. Infant massage has been shown
to help relieve colic, induce sleep, promote relaxation, improve sensory
integration, and enhance neurological development, among other things; moreover,
the practice of massage helps build the bond between babies and their parents.
For more information, read Maria Mathias' article, "Infant Massage: Everyone
Benefits," in the November 2003 issue of Massage Today at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2003/11/05.html,
or check out the interview with Patricia Cadolino, facilitator of the nurturing
touch program in the neonatal intensive care unit at Stony Brook University
Hospital on Long Island, New York, in the March 2004 issue (www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/03/03.html).
Iridology is the study and analysis of the iris, or the colored part of the eye,
which practitioners believe can reveal information about a person's overall
health and/or tendencies toward disease. Iridology is not used to diagnose;
however, practitioners utilize the technique to better determine a client's
health, lifestyle and nutritional needs. Iridology is used to complement other
natural therapies, including massage, acupuncture and traditional Chinese
medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, and energy work, to name a few.
To read more about iridology, check out Karen E. Jones' article, "Iridology and
Massage," in the October 2003 issue of Massage Today at
Lomi Lomi literally translated means "rub." It is a form of Hawaiian bodywork
that developed out of the Hawaiian philosophy of Huna; that is, a belief in
harmony and balance in all areas of physical and emotional health. Practioners
work intuitively with clients using their hands, elbows, and forearms to apply
long, gliding strokes, rhythmic movements, and pressure. This technique is very
nurturing; practitioners acknowledge that love and a pure heart is important to
the process, and sometimes the session will begin with a chant or prayer.
Sometimes more than one practioner will work on different parts of a client at
the same time to facilitate a feeling of wholeness -- a main component of the
Developed by French physician Bruno Chikly, this technique involves the
application of light, rhythmic strokes to help alleviate various conditions
related to the body's lymph system. Among other things, the lymph system is
responsible for flushing out toxins and draining fluid, which supports a healthy
immune system. When lymph circulation stagnates, however, fluid can build up and
cause physical problems, such as inflammation, edemas and neuropathies.
LDT enables practitioners to restore proper lymph flow by using a "mapping"
system to assess congested areas in the body, then apply gentle, pressure using
the fingers and hands on these areas to reactivate proper ciculation. See also
Manual Lymph Drainage.
Read Bruno Chikly's article, "Massage Therapists and Breast Care: Easing the
Controversy," in the January 2004 issue of Massage Today at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/01/03.html.
Lypossage combines several massage modalities for the purpose of enhancing skin
tone and firmness, and to combat the effects of cellulite. Lypossage is often
the preferred method of treating cellulite, since it provides a noninvasive
alternative to expensive cosmetic surgery. Practitioners of lypossage usually
emphasize the importance of diet and exercise, as well.
Drainage (Vodder Technique)
Manual Lymph Drainage was developed in the 1930s by Danish physical therapists,
Emil and Estrid Vodder. The technique consists of light, rhythmic strokes to aid
lymph flow and proper fluid circulation, and help stimulate the lymph vessels to
ultimately drain toxic fluids from the body. See also Lymph Drainage Therapy.
Massotherapy involves working primarily with the muscles. Practitioners of
massotherapy have a background in science, but often incorporate other
modalities into their treatments when working with the muscle groups. Benefits
of massotherapy include improved circulation and blood flow, as well as pain
Practitioners of medical massage have a strong background in pathology, disease,
illness and injury, and the contraindications of specific massage techniques
related to various medical conditions. Medical massage therapists frequently
work under the direction of or at the request of physicians. (See orthopedic
Myofascial release deals with the fascia, or connective tissue, of the body. The
fascia is interconnected to every other part of the body, and actually helps to
support the body's very structure, including the musculoskeletal system. When
injury, inflammation, or physical or emotional trauma occurs, the fascia can
become tight and cause pain and/or restricted range of motion. Myfascial release
-- as its name suggests -- aims to release the fascia and return it to a state
of normalcy by applying gentle pressure to the restricted areas. MFR can help
with a number of conditions, including chronic pain, headaches, and
stress-related illnesses. See also Soft-tissue massage, connective tissue
NMT is massage applied to specific muscles, often used to increase blood flow,
release knots of muscle tension, or release pain/pressure on nerves. This
therapy is also known as trigger-point therapy in that concentrated finger
pressure is applied to "trigger points" to alleviate muscular pain.
Orthopedic massage combines several massage and medical massage techniques to
treat pain and soft-tissue injury. It focuses heavily on injury assessment and
rehabilitation, emphasizing the importance of selecting the appropriate modality
to treat the injury. Orthopedic massage is often used in conjuction with sports
For more information on orthopedic massage, read James Waslaski's articles:
"Orthopedic Massage vs. Medical Massage: Are We Using the Correct Terminology?"
(Feb. 2004, www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/02/03.html) and "Defining Medical
Massage" (June 2004,
According to the American Polarity Therapy Association, "Polarity therapy is a
comprehensive health system involving energy-based bodywork, diet, exercise and
self-awareness. It works with the Human Energy Field, electromagnetic patterns
expressed in mental, emotional and physical experience. In Polarity Therapy,
health is viewed as a reflection of the conditiion of the energy field, and
therapeutic methods are designed to balance the field for health benefit."* The
technique's pioneer, Dr. Randolph Stone, a strong proponent of the healing
powers of energy, utilized polarity therapy in his pratice until retiring at the
age of 84 in 1974.
* For reference information, click here.
Prenatal, or pregnancy, massage uses gentle techniques to help alleviate some of
the ailments associated with pregancy, including lower back, neck and shoulder
pain; fatigue; joint tenderness; and stretch marks. Prenatal massage can help
improve circulation, promote stress reduction and relaxation, and much more.
Practitioners should be well-trained in prenatal massage in order to deliver
safe and effective care, and patients should check with their doctors prior to
Qi (Pronounced "Chee")
Also chi, ka and ji. The basis of traditional Chinese medicine revolves around
qi, which is considered a vital force or energy responsible for controlling the
workings of the human mind and body. Qi flows through the body via channels, or
pathways, which are called meridians. There are a total of 20 meridians: 12
primary meridians, which correspond to specific organs, organ systems or
functions, and eight secondary meridians. Imbalances in the flow of qi cause
illness and correction of this flow restores the body to balance. (See
acupuncture, acupressure, Asian bodywork, shiatsu, five-element shiatsu).
This technique is based on a system of points on the hands, feet and ears that
correspond, or "reflex," to other areas of the body. Similar in theory to
acupressure, reflexologists believe that applying appropriate pressure to these
points stimulates the flow of energy, thus helping to relieve pain or blockages
throughout the entire body. A very pleasurable form of bodywork, reflexology is
also used to ease stress and promote relaxation.
While not strictly under the auspices of massage, Reiki (pronounced "ray-key")
is often practiced in conjunction with bodywork. The word Reiki comes from two
Japanese words - rei, meaning higher power or universal force, and ki, meaning
life energy. Loosely translated, Reiki means universal or spiritually-guided
Practiced for thousands of years throughout Japan, China, Tibet and other Asian
nations, Reiki was "rediscovered" in the late 19th century by Dr. Mikao Usui, a
Buddhist monk and educator, who used the therapy to heal the sick. Today, Reiki
is used as a method of healing illness and reducing stress through light touch
or, more commonly, by placing the hands near or above the body in specific
positions or patterns. Through these positions, a Reiki practitioner can correct
energetic imbalances in the body by removing toxic energy, improving health and
restoring a person's energy levels.
As of late, Reiki has received more public attention by way of research studies.
Check out the article, "Federally funded Reiki Study Underway in Washington," in
the February 2004 issue of Massage Today at www.massagetoday.com/archives/2004/02/06.html.
Developed by Ida P. Rolf in the 1940s, Structural Integration, or Rolfing, works
to correct imbalances in body caused by natural gravitational forces. This
technique utilizes deep pressure to help lengthen and relieve built up tension
in the body's connective tissues. Benefits of this technique include improved
balance, posture, and range of motion; increased energy; stress reduction; and
alleviation of pain and discomfort.
This technique utilizes a combination of light touch, breathing exercises,
relaxation techniques and verbal communication to work in helping clients to
connect to themselves emotionally in order to reduce tension and stress
throughout the body.
Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage therapy similar to acupressure; in fact,
the word shiatsu literally means "finger pressure." As with acupressure, the
concepts of shiatsu hold that it can promote health and facilitate healing by
correcting energy imbalances in the body. These imbalances are corrected by
applying pressure to specific points along channels in the body known as
meridians. While there is no exact date as to when shiatsu originated, the
technique is believed to be hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.
Shiatsu is usually delivered with the thumbs. However, some practitioners will
use their fingers, palms, elbows -- and even feet -- to achieve the desired
effect. Typically, a shiatsu practitioner will apply pressure not just to a few
points on the body. The goal here is twofold: to release energy (qi in Chinese,
ki in Japanese - pronounced "chee") in areas where it may be blocked or
stagnating, and to bring energy back to areas that are depleted.
In addition to applying pressure, shiatsu practitioners may manipulate the soft
tissue over and around meridians, and perform passive and active stretching
exercises as part of treatment. Scientifically speaking, shiatsu is an excellent
form of pain relief. Research has shown that applying extensive pressure
initiates the release of endorphins, natural pain-killing substances produced by
the body. Shiatsu may also lower the levels of adrenaline and other stress
hormones, producing a relaxing effect.
Soft-tissue massage is a generic term for any modality that is used to treat the
soft tissues in the body, including muscle, fascia, and scar tissue. Common
modalities used include Swedish, myofascial release, deep-tissue massage,
trigger-point therapy, connective tissue massage.
This term refers to several types of treatments generally performed in resort
and day spas. Some of these include manicures and pedicures, mud wraps, body
scrubs, sea salt scrubs, parrafin treatments, hydrotherapy treatments, scalp
treatments, facials, and herbal and seaweed body wraps.
For more spa-related articles, visit www.massagetoday.com/selectarticles/spa.php.
Sports massage therapies are both preventative and therapeutic, and used for
athletes during warm ups, training and competition to treat and/or aid in the
prevention of injuries; help improve flexibility, range of motion, and
performance; and aid in mental clarity. Virtually every professional sports team
employs professional sports massage therapists, and are often privately employed
by professional athletes.
Read Massage Today's sports massage columnist Michael McGillicuddy's column
Generally regarded as the most common form of massage, Swedish massage involves
a combination of five basic strokes and concentrates on the muscles and
connective tissues of the body for improved circulation, relaxation, pain
relief, and overall health maintenance and well-being. Swedish massage is also
one of the less demanding techniques for massage therapists to practice as it
usually does not involve deep-tissue work.
Practiced in Thailand for over 2,000 years, Thai massage -- also known as yoga
massage, Thai yoga massage and ancient massage -- works to clear energy
blockages and restore balance and harmony to the body. The practice combines
typical Westernized massage therapy practices, including myofascial release and
trigger point therapy, with light stretching similar to that of yoga. It has
even earned the name "lazy man's yoga." Like yoga, Thai massage helps to
strengthen the body and increase flexibility, while allowing the client to
benefit from the relaxation and healing properties of massage.
Rather than using a massage table, Thai massage is administered to fully clothed
clients on floor mats. Practitioners use their own body weight to position
clients into yoga-like forms while instructing clients on proper breathing for
For more information, read the article, "Relax the Thai Way," at
This hydrotherapy treatment is often used in day spas and wellness clinics. It
utilizes seawater and sea water products for their minerals and healing
properties. Thalassotherapy treatments can involve body wraps, or, more
commonly, heated seawater baths. Benefits include relaxation, increased
circulation, and treatment of pain and injury.
Therapeutic Touch (TT)
Therapeutic Touch is a form of bodywork practiced primarily in the nursing
profession. Using light touch, practitioners work with a clients energy to help
restore balance, emotional clarity, and promote relaxation and healing.
Traditional Chinese medicine is one of the oldest continuous systems of medicine
in history, with recorded instances dating as far back as two thousand years
before the birth of Christ. This is in sharp contrast to American or Western
forms of health care, which have been in existence for a much shorter time span.
Traditional Chinese medicine is based, at least in part, on the Daoist belief
that we live in a universe in which everything is interconnected. What happens
to one part of the body affects every other part of the body. The mind and body
are not viewed separately, but as part of an energetic system. Similarly, organs
and organ systems are viewed as interconnected structures that work together to
keep the body functioning.
Many of the concepts emphasized in traditional Chinese medicine have no true
counterpart in Western medicine. One of these concepts is qi (pronounced "chee"),
which is considered a vital force or energy responsible for controlling the
workings of the human mind and body. Qi flows through the body via channels, or
pathways, which are called meridians. There are a total of 20 meridians: 12
primary meridians, which correspond to specific organs, organ systems or
functions, and eight secondary meridians. Imbalances in the flow of qi cause
illness; correction of this flow restores the body to balance.
Traditional Chinese medicine encompasses several methods designed to help
patients achieve and maintain health. Along with acupuncture, TCM incorporates
adjunctive techniques such as acupressure, tuina, herbal medicine, diet and
lifestyle, meditation, and other practices.
For more information on TCM, visit www.acupuncturetoday.com/abc/
The Trager Approach relies on gentle, rhythmic rocking and stretching techniques
to promote easy and free movement and sensation throughout the body. Clients
wear loose-fitting clothing and lay on a table in a warm treatment room.
Sessions can last from either one hour to an hour and a half.
Following the session, practitioners provide clients with information on "Mentastics,"
or mental gymnastics, and "recall". Mentastics and recall help the client
recreate the experiences they felt during the actual Trager session to help
induce the positive feelings and states of relaxation associated with the
session. The effects of the Trager Approach are cumulative and improve over
time; hence, clients are encouraged to engage in several sessions to reap its
Trigger points are areas of soft tissue in the body characterized by local pain,
tightness, and tenderness. Often trigger points develop because of referred
pain, or pain from another source that has manifested itself in a trigger point.
Trigger points rarely refer pain to other areas.
Trigger-point therapy seeks first to identify trigger points, then apply steady,
appropriate pressure to the point to "release" it. This is usually followed by
massage to the surrounding area to help treat the cause of the trigger point.
Clients are encouraged to drink a lot of water following a trigger-point therapy
session to flush out any toxins released when the trigger point is released.
Tuina (pronounced "twee nah") is a form of Asian bodywork that has been used in
China for centuries. A combination of massage, acupressure and other forms of
body manipulation, tuina works by applying pressure to acupoints, meridians and
groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow of qi
(pronounced "chee"). Removing these blockages restores the balance of qi in the
body, leading to improved health and vitality.
Tuina is best suited for alleviating chronic pain, musculoskeletal conditions
and stress-related disorders that affect the digestive and/or respiratory
systems. Among the ailments tuina treats best are neck pain, shoulder pain, back
pain, sciatica and tennis elbow. However, because tuina is designed to improve
and restore the flow of qi, treatment often ends up causing improvements to the
whole body, not just a specific area.
There is anecdotal evidence that headaches, constipation, premenstrual symptoms
and some emotional problems may also be effectively treated through tuina.
Because it tends to be more specific and intense than other types of bodywork,
tuina may not necessarily be used to sedate or relax a patient. The type of
massage delivered by a tuina practitioner can be quite vigorous; in fact, some
people may feel sore after their first session. Some patients may also
experience feelings of sleepiness or euphoria. As with all forms of care, there
are certain instances in which tuina should not be performed. Patients with
osteoporosis or conditions involving fractures, for instance, should not receive
tuina. Neither should patients with infectious diseases, skin problems or open
Visceral Manipulation seeks to correct pain and dysfunction caused by imbalance
between the organs and structures of the body.
According to the Upledger Institute, "Visceral Manipulation (VM) is a gentle
hands-on therapy that works through the body's visceral system (the heart,
liver, intestines and other internal organs) to locate and alleviate abnormal
points of tension throughout the body. VM employs specifically placed manual
forces that work to encourage the normal mobility, tone and motion of the
viscera and their connective tissues. Trained practitioners use the rhythmic
motions of the visceral system to evaluate how abnormal forces interplay,
overlap and affect the normal body forces at work. These gentle manipulations
can potentially improve the functioning of individual organs, the systems the
organs function within, and the structural integrity of the entire body." *
*For reference information, click here.
Watsu is a hydrotherapy treatment quickly gaining popularity all over the world.
Watsu, which combines the words water and shiatsu, is literally shiatsu
performed on clients who float in warm water. The practitioner carefully holds
the client and applies gentle stretching and shiatsu-like massage techniques
along the back, neck, shoulders, and limbs. This therapy is useful for a number
of reasons: The warm water soothes muscles and promotes relaxation; the feeling
of weightlessness promotes free movement; and benefits include pain relief,
stress reduction and deep relaxation. Watsu also promotes self-reflection,
connection and trust.
Zero Balancing (ZB)
Zero Balancing is concerned with "bone energy," or the energy of the skeletal
system. The practice seeks to work with both the body's energy and physcial
structure to correct imbalance, restore vitality, and aid in stress relief and
pain reduction. ZB work is performed on fully-clothed clients, and sessions
usually last about 30-45 minutes.
For more on Zero Balancing, read the article "Zero Balancing: Touching the
Spirit Through Energy and Structure," at
****article from massagetoday.com