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There are nearly 15,000 nerves in the feet alone, one reason why reflexology is so soothing and relaxing — and stimulating and energizing! During a reflexology session my clients report entering an altered, almost hypnotic state. They experience profound relaxation, which is key to enhancing the mind/body connection and to triggering your capacity to heal and achieve balance.
The intensive application of pressure on your body (the therapist often uses her elbows, knuckles, forearms and hands to apply the right amount of pressure to touch the deeper muscle tissues) triggers circulation of blood and oxygen in your body, thereby, releasing toxins trapped underneath. Increased blood and oxygen circulation in the body promotes healing.
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Therapeutic massage is used in the treatment of diseases and injuries of the motor and support apparatus, metabolic disturbances (obesity, diabetes mellitus, and gout), and diseases of the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. In reflex-segmental massage various organs and tissues are affected through the massage of certain areas of the skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscles. Reflex-segmental massage is prescribed for therapeutic purposes, as is pneumomassage, or vacuum massage, in which waves of air are used to improve the peripheral blood circulation. Syncardial massage, which is also prescribed for therapeutic purposes, involves the rhythmic compression of the vessels of the extremities by means of a special apparatus called the Synkardon. Another form of therapeutic massage, underwater massage, is performed by a special apparatus that creates an underwater stream under as much as two to four atmospheres pressure.
In general massage the whole body is massaged, and in localized massage, the face, extremities, abdomen, and so forth. The principal techniques are stroking, rubbing, kneading, and vibration. Stroking—slow rhythmic massage with one or both hands in the direction of the blood flow—begins and ends the massage and is used after each of the other techniques. Rubbing, a more energetic procedure than stroking, is performed with the fingers, the whole palm, or the base or edge of the palm of one or both hands, moving longitudinally, transversely, circularly, or in zigzags or spirals. Kneading, in which one or both hands move longitudinally, transversely, semicircularly, or spirally, is used primarily on muscle tissue. Vibration includes intermittent pummeling or chopping and vibration proper (oscillatory movements made without removing the hands from the working area). It may also be done with equipment, such as the vibrating chair and the Velotrab (for general vibration) and a portable apparatus with a set of Vibratods or an apparatus for pulsating massage (for localized treatment).
Many people confuse reflexology with massage, Reiki, or acupuncture, but there are essential differences between these therapies. Massage therapists manipulate larger areas of soft tissue in the body while reflexologists apply pressure to specific points on the feet, hands, and ears. Unlike either massage or reflexology, Reiki does not involve any physical manipulation or pressure, but instead uses light touch to work with the subtle vibrational field thought to surround the body. Finally, while acupuncture and acupressure, like reflexology, use reflex points on the body to influence other parts of the body, the points are not the same and acupuncture uses points over the entire body.
The reason the Pressure Question exists is that it’s hard for patients to tell the difference between nasty pain that might be a necessary part of therapy, and ugly pain that is just abusive. Not everything that hurts is therapeutic, but not every therapeutic procedure is painless! How can we tell if an intense massage technique is therapeutic or not?
Certain massage therapists have specialized training in techniques that help treat people with injuries, inflammation, tears and limitations. Although more than one massage session is usually needed to provide relief and see improvements in pain, well-trained therapists can usually recommend practices or stretches for you to try at home that can further help improve healing.
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Until better evidence is published in peer reviewed journals, he remains skeptical of claims that by massaging or applying pressure to specific points on the hands or feet, a reflexologist can alleviate problems in corresponding organs or other systems throughout the body. He has seen no evidence showing that reflexology is effective for pain or any health problems unrelated to the feet and hands. He urges caution with regard to claims that reflexology can cleanse the body of toxins, increase circulation, promote weight loss, or successfully treat earaches, hemorrhoids, emphysema, heart disease, thyroid disorders or any other health condition.
Swedish massage is now gaining acceptance from the medical community as a complementary treatment. Studies have shown that massage can relax the body, decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and reduce stress and depression. It may also provide symptomatic relief for many chronic diseases. Many doctors now prescribe massage therapy as symptomatic treatment for headache , facial pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, other chronic and acute conditions, stress, and athletic injuries. Many insurance companies now reimburse patients for prescribed massage therapy. As of 2000, however, Medicare and Medicaid do not pay for this form of alternative treatment.
Pre-event massage is given shortly before an athlete competes. It consists mainly of brisk effleurage to stimulate and warm the muscles and petrissage to help muscles move fluidly and to reduce muscle tension. Effleurage is generally a relaxing stroke , but when done briskly it is stimulating. As the massage progresses, the pressure increases as the massage therapist uses percussive strokes and cupping to stimulate the muscles to contract and flex. The part of the body being massaged varies from sport to sport, although leg and back muscles are common targets for this type of massage.
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Alhough he was a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association at the time, Pietrunti says that he ultimately decided to pursue licensure in massage therapy as well. This provided that missing link while also being “a good way to ‘bridge the gap’ and provide a better service to my clients,” he says.
“The number one thing therapists should do to protect themselves from injury is avoid doing too much work,” says Bykofsky. She also recommends not over-scheduling, working too many hours, or holding too many deep massage sessions a week. Also, take advantage of other “tools” at your disposal, such as different parts of your hands and arms, using them for leverage to take some of the pressure off your thumbs.
It’s just a theory: no one knows if this is actually effective.11 However, it may explain why so many massage patients report a “gets a bit worse before it gets much better” response to quite painful treatments: motor end plates are (painfully) destroyed by strong pressures, and then that tissue is quite sensitive and a bit weak as it heals over a day or two … and then you finally feel much better after that!