The Massage Your Body Needs
Massage Therapy is a form of body manipulation in which practitioners manipulate muscle and connective tissue to enhance function of those tissues and promote relaxation and well-being. Massage Therapy uses touch and tissue manipulation. There are many different forms including relaxation massage, sports massage, remedial massage, Shiatsu, Swedish massage, and reflexology.
Shiatsu: Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage therapy similar to acupressure; in fact, the word shiatsu literally means "finger pressure." As with acupressure, the concepts of shiatsu hold that it can promote health and facilitate healing by correcting energy imbalances in the body. These imbalances are corrected by applying pressure to specific points along channels in the body known as meridians. While there is no exact date as to when shiatsu originated, the technique is believed to be hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.
Shiatsu is usually delivered with the thumbs. However, some practitioners will use their fingers, palms, elbows -- and even feet -- to achieve the desired effect. Typically, a shiatsu practitioner will apply pressure not just to a few points on the body. The goal here is twofold: to release energy (qi in Chinese, ki in Japanese - pronounced "chee") in areas where it may be blocked or stagnating, and to bring energy back to areas that are depleted.
In addition to applying pressure, shiatsu practitioners may manipulate the soft tissue over and around meridians, and perform passive and active stretching exercises as part of treatment. Scientifically speaking, shiatsu is an excellent form of pain relief. Research has shown that applying extensive pressure initiates the release of endorphins, natural pain-killing substances produced by the body. Shiatsu may also lower the levels of adrenaline and other stress hormones, producing a relaxing effect.
Swedish Massage: Generally regarded as the most common form of massage, Swedish massage involves a combination of five basic strokes and concentrates on the muscles and connective tissues of the body for improved circulation, relaxation, pain relief, and overall health maintenance and well-being. Swedish massage is considered a soft technique as it usually does not involve deep-tissue work.