I love this question ever so much better than the WHY question, simply because the answer is that it can be such a versatile form of wellness care. Over the next few posts I will outline some different types of massage therapy/bodywork, and discuss the benefits of each.
First of all, on the most basic level, we define massage and bodywork as physical manipulation of soft tissues for the purpose of relaxation or rehabilitation. We aren’t chiropractors, so spinal adjustment is outside of our practical scope. (That isn’t to say that some of our clients don’t experience spontaneous adjustment, but the CRAAAACK of an adjusting spine isn’t our goal, just an occasional, lovely side effect 😉 ) Also, the manipulation of or energetic field, while included under the umbrella of ‘bodywork’ doesn’t actually require hands-on. We will also discuss energetic work in a future post.
We in the field of Massage Therapy tend to divide the different types of massage, known as MODALITIES, into two different main categories: EASTERN and WESTERN.
Eastern massage approaches originated in China, India, and Japan, for example. Eastern approaches are very old, many dating back as far as 3-5000 years! They tend to focus on finding and managing energetic imbalances in the CHI, or life force that flows in specific patterns, called meridians. The focus is upon soothing overactive energy flow and stimulating under-active energy flow by specific body manipulations. In the future we will discuss reflexology, Ayurvedic massage, Thai massage, Jin Shin Do, Shiatsu, and TuiNa. These are a few examples of Eastern forms of bodywork.
Western massage approaches, for the most part, can be traced to roots in Western Europe. The foundation on which many western techniques are built is called SWEDISH MASSAGE (though it was not thought to have been founded in Sweden, nor was is designed by a Swede… and the names of the movement techniques are French… who said History isn’t funny?!) We will discuss Swedish (also known as Classical Massage), Myofascial release, Structural Integration, Sports Massage, Spa Therapies, NeuroMuscular Therapies, and Active Release Therapy to name a few.
So the answer to the question, “What is massage?” is a very broad topic that I am looking forward to sharing with you. Check back soon!