Just what is Massage Anyway?
Massage is the oldest and most common of recorded medical therapies in history. In our culture, the uses of massage are narrowly defined as of benefit when we are physically injured or when life’s stresses cause muscular tensions and we are in need of a muscular release. We usually seek out spa services for this type of massage. As described below , massage has a much larger benefit to us than this narrow perspective. It is all too easy to lose the point of view of the whole while pursuing the specifics.
Massage is a Structured Touch
We know the world first through our body’s, through our senses, especially touch. The skin is the largest sensory organ of the body and touch is the sensory system of the skin. The skin is derived from the same tissue as the central nervous system (Brain & Spinal Cord). It may be thought of as the exposed portion of the nervous system and it is in intimate, constant contact with the central nervous system which governs movement, thought and emotions.
If we structure our touch with a therapeutic goal we get the discipline of Massage Therapy. Massage incorporates structured touch to address traumas and help us change habitual patterns to reintegrate.
Traumas may be chronic in nature or acute like when you bend down and (throw your back out). Both lead to guarding (immobilizing the injured area), desensitization, and restriction of movement.
Habit patterns arise from mental, emotional or physical stresses in our daily lives. They create discomfort and pain, inhibit routine activities and disrupt natural rhythms like breathing, walking, sleeping & waking. The body absorbs these physical, mental and emotional stresses, by creating “habitat zones” in our body to compensate for these daily life stresses. In a sense, our biography is born out in our biology.
The Loss of Movement: Restriction and Pain
In our daily lives everything moves, we have patterned responses to the situations we find ourselves every day. They are our personal responses using our natural rhythms and movements throughout the day. The ability to respond to our personal world is called adaptation (see What I DO). When our actions in, and reactions to the world are varied and flow in natural rhythms and movements, we have a healthy adaptation. When our responses are limited, exaggerated or ineffective, our ability to adapt and our health is diminished. The patterns of our responses become fixed and our bodies bear the burden.
Why Many Patients Seek Therapeutic Massage
1. Patients are often in discomfort or pain and looking for relief.
2. Patients seek relief from emotional and mental stresses that become held in the physical soft tissues of their body.
3. Patients are seeking improved performance in a sport or other physical activity
4. Patients sometimes want a way to access aspects of their experience that are just out of reach which when made more available will free them from constraints in self expression.
· With sports it is sometimes called achieving and being in the zone.
· With Yoga or meditation practice it is to inform new ways of perceiving and experiencing. Changing the shape of physical structure shifts capability of the Mind in perceptual, coordinative and meaning structures.
How I use Massage to help my Patients:
The gravitational field is always present. A shift in how we move in relation to gravity because of trauma or habitual patterns changes not just the part of the body where the symptoms are but also creates physical changes in other parts of the body as well. For example, walking with a cane because of a problem in the right knee causes fascial restrictions in the back and shoulder along the left side. This is why a symptomatic approach alone with not resolve the chronic difficulty.
My Massage methods always involve a careful and systematic release of physical restrictions so the related patterns that are bound and limited are removed and balance and natural rhythms are reestablished. The following occurs within a patient’s therapeutic plan:
· The original injury and the body’s compensation imposed by the gravitational field is repaired
· The area of trauma that was desensitized (lost to your awareness) is reclaimed.
· The restrictions of movement are liberated to restore opportunity to move in more healthy ways.
· Your experience of discomfort & pain is relieved
· Your senses are open to new perceptions and experiences once the physical burden is removed.
There are over fifty different methods or types of therapeutic massage. Each with dozens of techniques.
I am formally trained in the following Massage & Bodywork Methods:
Asian; Amma, Tui – Na, Thai Massage, Jin Shin Do, Shiatsu
Western: Medical Massage, Cranial Sacral Therapy, NeuroMuscular Therapy, Myofascial Release, Lymphatic Drainage therapy, Myoskeletal Alignment, Visceral Manipulation