Several mechanisms for deep massage’s natural stress-relieving effects include its ability to dilate blood vessels and also lower activity of the limbic system (including the hypothalamus), which is responsible for autonomic nervous system regulation and cortisol secretion. Massage has been shown to improve relaxation by boosting activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, as measured by heart rate, blood pressure and heart rate variability. (8, 9) 

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Thank you for explaining the difference between a deep tissue massage and a firm pressure massage. The place I go to offers different techniques and I have been wondering what the difference was between those two. Good to know that a deep tissue massage uses very little to no lubricant so the muscles can be hooked and grabbed. That one sounds like a really great option.
In Thailand, Thai massage is officially listed as one of the branches of traditional Thai medicine, recognized and regulated by the government. It is considered to be a medical discipline in its own right and is used for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Massage schools, centers, therapists, and practitioners are increasingly regulated by the Ministries of Education and Public Health in Thailand.[107][108]
Relieve stomach tension. If you tend to feel stress in your stomach, which many might describe as having "the jitters," press the reflex points on your instep (the non-weight bearing area on the bottom of your foot) to relieve discomfort to your abdominal organs. This is the area you would want to work on if you are feeling "gut-wrenching" emotions, or if you wake up with a feeling of heaviness in the pit of your stomach.
Prenatal massage uses mild pressure similar to Swedish massage. The therapist will focus on areas such as your lower back, hips, and legs. You can be fully or partially undressed depending on your comfort level. During the massage, you’ll either lie on your side or on a specially designed table with a cutout for your belly. If you’ve had pain in your calves or other parts of your leg, see a doctor before you have a massage.

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A couple’s massage is a massage that you do with your partner, friend, or family member in the same room. It brings all the benefits of a regular massage and sometimes provides you with access to the spa’s hot tubs, saunas, and other facilities. Other treatments such as pedicures, facials, and body scrubs are sometimes offered as part of a package.

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Modern reflexology technique has been used since 60 years ago and now more scientific and clinical research have been conducted because of their positive effects in reducing and alleviating the symptoms associated with certain diseases. Reflexology gives benefits to certain groups of people and generally does not cause any harmful effects as long as certain precautions are taken by the patients with certain medical circumstances. Each person has a different body system condition, so results from reflexology treatment could differ from one person to another.8 Based on latest research conducted, reflexology seems to be effective in helping the body systems to return to its natural state.1 One of the most significant current discussions in reflexology is its effectiveness in tackling several symptoms of diseases.1 The level of disease conditions and pain are reduced as the patients receive reflexology treatment. It has been suggested by a Swiss study that patients who have undergone reflexology sessions showed a significant decrease in the amount of medication needed.1 As a complementary therapy, reflexology seems to work better with conventional treatment to treat certain diseases.8 The most significant current discussions in reflexology practice are related to the aspect of health, safety, and hygiene. Other than that, the principles and practice of reflexology as a complementary therapy is important to make sure the application of this therapy is reliable.

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The main professionals that provide therapeutic massage are massage therapists, athletic trainers, physical therapists and practitioners of many traditional Chinese and other eastern medicines. Massage practitioners work in a variety of medical settings and may travel to private residences or businesses.[10] Contraindications to massage include deep vein thrombosis, bleeding disorders or taking blood thinners such as Warfarin, damaged blood vessels, weakened bones from cancer, osteoporosis, or fractures, and fever.[10]
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Some sports massage therapists use myofascial techniques that focus on stretching the fascia, which are connective tissues surrounding muscles, tendons and ligaments in the body. This particular massage technique involves the therapist applying forces in opposing directions which relaxes the tissues. It can help ease pain and increase mobility in the tissues and surrounding muscles.

Sometimes confused with pressure point massage,[10] this involves deactivating trigger points that may cause local pain or refer pain and other sensations, such as headaches, in other parts of the body. Manual pressure, vibration, injection, or other treatment is applied to these points to relieve myofascial pain. Trigger points were first discovered and mapped by Janet G. Travell (President Kennedy's physician) and David Simons. Trigger points have been photomicrographed and measured electrically[71] and in 2007 a paper was presented showing images of Trigger Points using MRI.[72] These points relate to dysfunction in the myoneural junction, also called neuromuscular junction (NMJ), in muscle, and therefore this technique is different from reflexology, acupressure and pressure point massage.


A more recent study looked more at the physical benefits of massage.  This study was done with 400 adults who complained of moderate to severe low back pain, lasting 3 or more months. These adults were divided into 3 groups. The first group received a weekly full body massage. The second group received a more targeted massage that focused on specific muscles of the low back and hips. The final group did not receive massage, but instead were prescribed pain medication and muscle relaxants.  After 10 weeks, participants in both massage groups reported a greater average improvement in pain and functioning than those who received medication. The type of massage, either full-body or focused, yielded equally beneficial results.  At the end of the study, 36-39% of the massage recipients reported that the pain was nearly or completely gone, while in the medicated group only 4% reported that significant decrease in pain level. This bodes well for not only focused but also a full Swedish “relaxation” massage.

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A statistic has showed that there are more than 5000 registered reflexology centres in Malaysia. Currently, reflexology is a big industry in Malaysia with a huge unexploited potential for tourism and human capital, especially for disabled people. Owing to that, Ministry of Health has published the good practice guidelines for reflexology in 2011 to strengthen and govern its operations.2 Different use of reflexology and the effect of reflexology are listed below:

Reflex zone is the region in the zone therapy that illustrates its interconnection with the whole parts of the body. Pressure applied to this region will help specific organ or particular part to alleviate the pain and symptoms of a disease. According to the theory, there is an invisible pathway that runs along the body in a vertical form based on the lines instead of reflexology maps in which each point on the soles of hand and feet correspond to a specific organ. Reflex zone therapy (Fig. 9) represents five zones in both sides of the feet.12 This zone is running along the whole body parts from top of the head until the tips of the toes and fingers and the whole body is divided into ten reflex zones.12 Each zone interconnects with different parts of the body.10 Reflex zone therapy-specific organ relationship is presented in Table 1 and Table 2.
There are many types of massage therapy, from classics like Swedish and deep tissue to more exotic styles like shiatsu. Whether you'd like to branch out a bit or have a health condition or injury, choosing a style of massage can be confusing if you're not quite sure what it involves. Here is a list of the most popular types of massage (including some that may be new to you).

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Addressing anything from headaches to sinus problems to stomach issues, if sensitivity or tenderness is experienced when certain areas of the foot are stimulated, it usually indicates bodily weaknesses or imbalances within the corresponding organ. With repeated practice of applying pressure and manipulating nerve endings (traditionally in the foot), reflexology can help to clear any channels of blocked energy through moving the flow of blood, nutrients and nerve impulses to ultimately improve overall health and balance. In addition to manipulating the pressure points on the foot, reflexologists sometimes work on the hands or ears to trigger relaxation as well.

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An author found that a patient who afflict multiple sclerosis and choose reflexology as the complementary treatment for a period of time had notable symptom relief. It is measured by considering urinary symptoms, parenthesis, spasticity, and muscle strength as the parameters. All parameters showed a remarkable improvement except for muscle strength.30

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Stroke is the condition where the blood supply to the brain is interrupted because of some reasons that may cause many health problems.27 It usually occurs due to blood vessels ruptures. Many patients have tried reflexology as the alternative therapy in order to recover from strokes. The practitioners believe that pressure that they exerted on a particular point on reflex areas may induce a positive outcome and physical changes to the body.28

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The light-touch, free massages often offered at finish line festivals can help calm the nervous system by allowing the body to commence its natural repair state quicker, explains Rosemarie Rotenberger, an orthopedic massage therapist in Mertztown, Pennsylvania. And  Denunzio says that racers can schedule a recovery-focused sports massage within several hours up to 48 hours after an event, although she recommends massage newbies wait three to four days, as they may be too sore within the first few days fully benefit from (and appreciate) the experience.

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Sports massage is a good option if you have a repetitive use injury to a muscle, such as what you may get from playing a sport. It’s also a good option if you’re prone to injuries because it can be used to help prevent sports injuries. You may also use sports massage to increase flexibility and performance. Additionally, sports massage can be used to relieve pain, anxiety, and muscle tension.
This short course only takes about 60 min to learn the routine of classic Thai Foot Reflexology, which is originated from Chiang Mai, Thailand, together with an instructor who teaches body mechanics and proper techniques. A basic knowledge of Thai Medicine theory, ancestors, well-known influential figures in Thai healing, and the history of Thai foot reflexology are also taught.20

The NCCIH adds that massage therapy may also be potentially harmful to women who are pregnant. Even though research has found that it offers this demographic some positive effects, such as decreased depression and anxiety and reduced leg and back pain, it is still important to obtain approval from her healthcare provider first to ensure that she can receive a safe sports massage.


Adequate recovery is also a major factor in avoiding the over-training syndrome. Over-training is characterized by irritability, apathy, altered appetite, increased frequency of injury, increased resting heart rate, and/or insomnia. It occurs when the body is not allowed to recover adequately between bouts of heavy exercise. Therapeutic massage helps you avoid over-training by facilitating recovery through general relaxation, and its other physiological effects. 
In a poll of 25–35-year-olds, 79% said they would like their health insurance plan to cover massage.[28] In 2006 Duke University Health System opened up a center to integrate medical disciplines with CAM disciplines such as massage therapy and acupuncture.[126] There were 15,500 spas in the United States in 2007, with about two-thirds of the visitors being women.[119]
In “bodywork,” as practiced at Haven, painful physical manipulations are just one part of a package of techniques explicitly designed to evoke and provoke emotional expression and vitality. While a participant lies on the ground breathing hard, two facilitators may be applying extremely painful pressures to key points in the body, deliberately pushing the participant well outside of his or her comfort zone. This may launch people out of emotional ruts (fairly dramatically), relieving intense emotional denial and suppression, and leading to vivid insights and profound new body awareness. BACK TO TEXT

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While there is certainly carryover between who can benefit from each type of massage, the deep tissue massage may be better suited for people who are experiencing a specific injury or who have chronic, nagging pain in a particular area. Athletes or individuals in the midst of training for a more intense event may also find this technique particularly helpful.
Like having your feet worked on? The therapist uses finger pressure and techniques such as kneading and rubbing to promote relaxation and healing in the body. Reflexology is based on "reflex areas" on the hands and feet, whose energy is believed to be connected to organs and other body parts. By applying pressure to the reflex points, the reflexologist can balance your nervous system and stimulate endorphins, the body's natural pleasure response, which reduces stress and discomfort.
Deep-tissue massage helps ease stress and tension, which can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. People who had a deep-tissue massage saw their systolic pressure drop by an average of 10.4 mm Hg and their diastolic pressure drop an average 5.3 mm Hg, according to a study cited by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Deep-tissue massage can help increase the body's production of serotonin, the hormone that promotes happiness and good feelings.

Inflammation caused by chronic stress and muscle tension can lead to worsened overall health, longer recovery time, reduced immune function and cardiovascular problems, such as high blood pressure. Studies have found that massage therapy can help lower cortisol levels and even boost production of the hormone called oxytocin, which relaxes the body and has soothing effects. (7) Oxytocin is the primary hormone responsible for sustaining social bonds in humans and increasing motivation for cooperative behaviors, which is why it’s often called the “cuddle hormone” and known to be released during hugs, birth, social bonding and from touch.

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Prenatal massage uses mild pressure similar to Swedish massage. The therapist will focus on areas such as your lower back, hips, and legs. You can be fully or partially undressed depending on your comfort level. During the massage, you’ll either lie on your side or on a specially designed table with a cutout for your belly. If you’ve had pain in your calves or other parts of your leg, see a doctor before you have a massage.

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When most people think of massage, they think of Swedish. The style takes its name from a 19th-century Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling, whose system of medical gymnastics included massage. Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909) coined a reduced set of maneuvers and techniques of Dr. Ling’s system as the “Swedish massage” system. Swedish massage is defined by four or five (somewhat familiar) techniques, which have French names: effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic choppings), and friction (rubbing). Some therapists now incorporate advanced techniques that have rehabilitating effects and stretches for improving your range of motion. But the ultimate goal is relaxation. As the default Western massage, Swedish massage is extremely popular and is simple, soothing touch therapy.
With possible benefits such as improved fitness endurance and performance, increased flexibility and recovery time, and injury prevention, sports massage is way more than just a massage for athletes! Traditionally, sports massage is a deep tissue massage that targets the deepest layers of muscle in order to stimulate blood flow. It is best done before or after the event as a means to later restore or rehabilitate. For more, see our Comprehensive Guide to Massage.

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While this massage is designed to help ease the pain, you might experience discomfort during your appointment, especially when your therapist is applying pressure to a problem area. It is best to speak up and let your therapist know if the discomfort becomes painful; even though the Deep Tissue massage is meant to apply more pressure, pain does not mean that the massage is working. You might also experience some soreness and stiffness; this is perfectly normal and should subside within 24 hours. ElementsMassage.com recommends that you drink a lot of water in order to flush out the lactic acid that will have accumulated in the tissues; this may ease some of the soreness. Bruising after your massage may also occur; keep in mind that your therapist was applying more pressure in order to reach your troubled areas, light bruising is normal. Cathy Wong also points out that “case reports have reported venous thromboembolism, spinal accessory neuropathy, hepatic hematoma, and posterior interosseous syndrome after deep tissue massage.”

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