I am a science writer and a former Registered Massage Therapist with a decade of experience treating tough pain cases. I was the Assistant Editor of ScienceBasedMedicine.org for several years. I’ve written hundreds of articles and several books, and I’m known for readable but heavily referenced analysis, with a touch of sass. I am a runner and ultimate player. • more about me • more about PainScience.com
The significant difference in the two approaches is their effect on these layers. A Swedish technique uses lubricant to glide over the layers – whether that be on a superficial layer (light pressure) or a deeper layer (firm pressure). There may also be kneading of the muscles, vibration or percussion to stimulate the muscles, and passive and/or active joint movements. All of these techniques serve to increase circulation of blood and lymph, soften and relax the tissues, reduce cortisol levels in the body (the stress hormone), and provide a generalized sense of relaxation for the client.
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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It’s important to be open with your massage therapist about the level of pressure and discomfort you wish to endure. This may be different for certain areas and throughout the massage, feel free to communicate with your massage therapist before and during the massage. Some massage therapists find pain to be counterproductive to the process and expect you to speak up if the pain is too much.

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The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that deep-tissue massage is more effective and affordable for relieving chronic pain than conventional medical remedies. Because deep-tissue massage increases the flow of blood through through the body, it helps reduce the inflammation that causes pain. Deep-tissue massage can also help alleviate muscle tension that is often a side effect of chronic pain by loosening the tight tissue clusters.
Most types of massage, with the exception of some traditional Chinese medicine are not regulated in China. Although illegal in China, some of the smaller businesses are fronts for prostitution. J.K., anti-prostitution operation has established sting operations to combat the situation.[99] These are called falangmei (发廊妹 "hairdressing salon sisters").

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Not everyone should receive a deep tissue massage. Some people simply enjoy the sensation of deeper pressure to their muscles and others prefer a more gentle touch. Someone who has never experienced a massage before may not want to request a deep tissue massage. It is the responsibility of the massage therapist to determine if a deep tissue massage is necessary by way of a thorough health history and evaluation. A massage is only effective when the person on the table is comfortable and relaxed.

The recently increased demand for evidence-based practice challenges the researchers to provide a relevant but holistic assessment of reflexology. Despite the recent vast use of reflexology, minimal attention has been given to the ethical issues related to the research on reflexology. In the view of public health and safety, we argue that the research on reflexology should adhere to the same ethical requirements for all clinical research.

Another study compared the effects of foot reflexology, simple massage, and conversation on 130 patients who had undergone abdominal gynecologic surgery under full anesthesia. The patients were asked how they felt, and data were recorded on general condition, pain intensity, movement of the bowels, urination, and sleep, from the day before the operation until until the tenth day afterward. Simple massage turned out to be a relaxing, positive experience, whereas foot reflexology had various effects, some of which were negative. The researchers concluded that foot reflexology is not effective in acute, abdominal postsurgical situations in gynecology and can occasionally trigger abdominal pain [15].
Spring came, and the days began to grow warmer. I longed to go for a leisurely run along the lake, but I didn’t dare. At the gym, I had to explain that I simply couldn’t do some of the exercises. No jumping rope. No leaping onto boxes. I told the owner about my ankle troubles. “You know this is what we do, right?” he asked incredulously. “We help people with these kinds of issues.” I like the owner and I like his wife, so I made an appointment. I assumed they would give me some sort of ankle strengthening routine to help me recover.
Therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping movements, with the application of oil, lotion, or cream, to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury.

Find the right massage therapist. Look for a therapist who specifically identifies the massage type you’re interested in as part of their practice and background. If necessary, look for someone trained to treat a particular condition, such as sports injuries, fibromyalgia, arthritis, or pregnancy. Also check if the therapist is licensed or certified according to state requirements.

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Quick muscle knot orientation: Muscle knots — myofascial “trigger points” — are a factor in most of the world’s aches and pains. Their biology is still mostly mysterious: conventional wisdom says they are tiny spasms, but they might also be a more pure neurological problem. Regardless, they can cause strong pain that often spreads in confusing patterns, and they grow like weeds around other painful problems and injuries, making them quite interesting and tricky. Although they are well known to many specialists and researchers, most doctors and therapists know little about them, so misdiagnosis is epidemic. For more information about how trigger points might be involved in your own medical history, see PainScience.com’s best-selling tutorial:
The day-to-day weight we carry in the form of stress, tension, or physical injury impacts our mind, body, and spirit, often in profound ways. Massagetique was created to help lift those burdens and encourage people to relax, feel good, and heal. By connecting those in need of healing with a massage provider, we hope to contribute to a healthier, happier, and more peaceful world. Learn More About Massagetique
For starters, you bear in mind the things described above that tend to cause ugly pain, and you avoid that kind of therapy like the plague. Then you look for some clues that painful pressure is okay. Here are at least three reasons why unpleasantly intense pressure might be therapeutic — “bad pain,” but not ugly. In each of these situations, it might be acceptable to tolerate sensations so intense and painful that the only thing about them that is pleasant is the part where it stops.
Español: leer un gráfico de reflexología podal, Italiano: Leggere una Mappa di Riflessologia Plantare, Português: Ler um Diagrama de Reflexologia Podal, Deutsch: Eine Tafel der Fußreflexzonen lesen, Русский: читать диаграмму рефлексологии стопы, Français: lire une planche de réflexologie plantaire, Nederlands: Een voetreflexologie kaart leren lezen, العربية: قراءة خرائط تدليك القدم, Bahasa Indonesia: Membaca Tabel Pijat Refleksi Kaki 

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A 2004 systematic review found single applications of massage therapy "reduced state anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate but not negative mood, immediate assessment of pain, and cortisol level", while "multiple applications reduced delayed assessment of pain", and found improvements in anxiety and depression similar to effects of psychotherapy.[54] A subsequent systematic review published in 2008 found that there is little evidence supporting the use of massage therapy for depression in high quality studies from randomized controlled trials.[55]


Sports massage has antecedents in earlier periods of history. The ancient Greeks and Romans combined massage and exercise in their athletic training. Various Asian cultures also developed forms of massage for dancers and for students of martial arts . As a formal practice, however, sports massage began in the Soviet Union and Communist bloc countries in the 1960s. Soviet teams were the first to have a massage therapist travel with them and work on their athletes on a regular and ongoing basis. Through sports and cultural exchanges, the concept of sports massage moved to Europe and the United States in the 1970s. Over time the benefits of sports massage became accepted, and sports massage became a part of the training regimen, first of professional athletes, then of college and amateur athletes. Today sports massage is recognized as a specialty by the American Massage Therapy Association.
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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