Healing massage has been practiced in cultures around the world for thousands of years. Different forms evolved in isolated areas influenced by the philosophical and spiritual ideas of its local culture.
More variations formed recently as societies began to mix and practitioners used the best ideas from multiple sources to create new synthesis. In our Learning Center you will find full descriptions of many of massage’s most popular forms. And here is a quick overview of each type.
Cranial Sacral Therapy
This form of therapy gently address the muscles and bones of the head, spinal column and sacrum (the triangular area in the lower back situated between the hipbones). Cranial sacral therapy is a noninvasive form of massage intended to release compression and thereby relieve headaches, jaw, back and neck pain. There are a fantastic number of muscles around the scalp and facial area that can retain tension, especially when a person is under stress. Cranial sacral massage dissolves that tension away.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue is similar to Swedish massage, but uses a stronger pressure to release chronic muscle tension. The focus is on reaching the deep layers of muscle tissue, tendons and the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints called “fascia.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published a study which demonstrated a significant drop in blood pressure after a single 45 - 60 minute deep tissue massage. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage methods like deep tissue reduced stress hormones and heart rate by a significant amount while simultaneously triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin which elevated mood and relaxation.
Hawaiian massage or “lomi lomi” as it’s called in the islands, use palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet, even sticks and stones as tools to knead, rub and soothe the body. “Lomi” means "to knead, to rub, or soothe; to work in and out, as the paws of a contented cat.” In Hawaiian style, the forearms are moved in circles and figure eights. These movements are intended to confuse the logical mind and invite the client to surrender, thereby letting go of useless mechanisms so that they may recover more of their innate spiritual self. In this way the ultimate objective of lomi lomi is to awaken the soul within the physical body into an enlightened state whereby its true calling in life is revealed!
Hot Stone Therapy
In Hot Stone therapy the recipient relaxes while clean water-heated stones (smooth river rocks) are placed at key locations of the body. The soothing weight and heat penetrates muscle tissue and relaxes the whole body and is especially enjoyed by people who prefer a lighter touch. Therapists also work soft muscle tissue by holding the warm stones and using them to knead muscles by gliding the stones in long sweeping motions (usually using massage oil). All sides of the stones are used to great effect. The stones do most of the work and the process feels absolutely glorious.
Reflexology is based on the idea of alleviating physical conditions of the body by massaging the hands and feet. While its medical efficacy is dependably and endlessly debatable, what isn’t debatable is how darn amazing reflexology feels. And perhaps therein lies the key to its alleged curative powers. The efforts of reflexologists are aligned to the consideration that massaging specific areas of the feet or hands can help cure disease or relieve pain in other parts of the body.
Therapeutic massage for athletes does not follow a rote system, but focuses on the on the specific trouble zone like, leg, knee or shoulder that is routinely injured in the athlete’s chosen sport from world-class sprinters to weekend golfers. Sports massage therapy is also aimed at those areas of the body that are damaged or hurting from simple overexertion. Today, sports massage is often used before an event, tournament or game to prepare the body for maximum performance. After the game, sports massage can help speed recovery.
Swedish massage is the most popular form of massage therapy in the United States. Long rhythmic strokes and firm kneading help relax the whole body, increase circulation, relieve tension and leave a person feeling calm and relaxed. Maybe even asleep. Additional techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. You're going to feel great after Swedish massage.
Deep static and firm rhythmic pressures form the core of the massage, applied with straight forearms locked at the elbow. Further manipulation is achieved through a combination of acupressure, body rocking and deep stretches to loosen joints and restore balance of the major muscle groups throughout the body. Unlike Swedish massage, the object in Thai massage is not relaxation. Instead of putting you to sleep, Thai massage is designed to engage and energize the client to emerge more conscious and aware (mindful).