In Thailand, Thai massage is officially listed as one of the branches of traditional Thai medicine, recognized and regulated by the government. It is considered to be a medical discipline in its own right and is used for the treatment of a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Massage schools, centers, therapists, and practitioners are increasingly regulated by the Ministries of Education and Public Health in Thailand.
The pressure from Swedish massage is ideal for relieving muscle tension, like the kind that builds up from hunching over a computer all day. This tension can sometimes result in knots: trigger points of extremely tense muscle fibers that form tiny nodules. Massage therapists are trained to feel for these knots, and Swedish-massage techniques are ideal for gently coaxing them away.
As for the commonly held belief that extra liquids are needed post-massage: that’s a myth, explains Gammal. “Massage does not release or flush out any toxins from the body, which means it won’t dehydrate you. Massage helps with recovery from lactic acid but doesn’t get rid of lactic acid.” Post-massage, you can just resume your normal hydration habits.
Massage has a multifaceted effect on the body and evokes complex reactions involving all the tissues, organs, and systems. It improves the movement of lymph and blood in the vessels and tones the vascular system, facilitating the work of the heart. The hemoglobin content of the blood and the erythrocyte and leukocyte counts are raised. Massage increases gas exchange and the excretion of mineral salts, urea, and uric acid. Changing the character, force, and duration of the massage can affect the functional state of the cerebral cortex by lowering or raising general excitability, intensifying attenuated reflexes and reviving lost ones, improving the function of conduction tracts, and reinforcing the reflex links of the cerebral cortex with the muscles, vessels, and internal organs. Massage can accelerate the regeneration of a nerve after injury and relieve or stop pain.
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Swedish and deep tissue massages are very similar. The primary difference is the level of pressure involved. If you’re looking for relaxation and relief from tense, tight muscles, Swedish massage is probably right for you. If you’re recovering from an injury, deep tissue massage can be a helpful part of your treatment plan. Feel free to ask questions before you book a massage and to communicate feedback to your therapist during a massage.
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In general massage the whole body is massaged, and in localized massage, the face, extremities, abdomen, and so forth. The principal techniques are stroking, rubbing, kneading, and vibration. Stroking—slow rhythmic massage with one or both hands in the direction of the blood flow—begins and ends the massage and is used after each of the other techniques. Rubbing, a more energetic procedure than stroking, is performed with the fingers, the whole palm, or the base or edge of the palm of one or both hands, moving longitudinally, transversely, circularly, or in zigzags or spirals. Kneading, in which one or both hands move longitudinally, transversely, semicircularly, or spirally, is used primarily on muscle tissue. Vibration includes intermittent pummeling or chopping and vibration proper (oscillatory movements made without removing the hands from the working area). It may also be done with equipment, such as the vibrating chair and the Velotrab (for general vibration) and a portable apparatus with a set of Vibratods or an apparatus for pulsating massage (for localized treatment).
Sometimes confused with pressure point massage, this involves deactivating trigger points that may cause local pain or refer pain and other sensations, such as headaches, in other parts of the body. Manual pressure, vibration, injection, or other treatment is applied to these points to relieve myofascial pain. Trigger points were first discovered and mapped by Janet G. Travell (President Kennedy's physician) and David Simons. Trigger points have been photomicrographed and measured electrically and in 2007 a paper was presented showing images of Trigger Points using MRI. These points relate to dysfunction in the myoneural junction, also called neuromuscular junction (NMJ), in muscle, and therefore this technique is different from reflexology, acupressure and pressure point massage.
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Before you go, check with the spa about what you should wear: the spa may provide disposable underwear. If the thought of removing all your clothes makes you blush, don't worry: your therapist will be an artist of professional draping techniques. The oils and lotions used in massage can stain fabrics, so it's a good idea to opt for something old if you're wearing your own clothes.
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Deep tissue massage is best for giving attention to certain painful, stiff "trouble spots" in your body. The massage therapist uses slow, deliberate strokes that focus pressure on layers of muscles, tendons, or other tissues deep under your skin. Though less rhythmic than other types of massage, deep tissue massage may be therapeutic -- relieving chronic patterns of tension and helping with muscle injuries, such as back sprain.
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Connective tissue stimulation. A lot of therapists are keen on stretching connective tissues — tendons, ligaments, and layers of Saran wrap-like tissue called “fascia.” I’m not a huge fan of this style, but certainly it’s a way of generating many potent and novel sensations, which may be inherently valuable to us — another form of touch. Although “improving” the fascia itself is implausible and unproven, perhaps fascial manipulations affect bodies indirectly, just as a sailboat is affected by pulling on its rigging. People have written whole books full of speculation along these lines. So, as long as the sensations are not like skin tearing (that’s an ugly pain for sure), you might choose to tolerate this kind of massage if it seems to be helping you.
Massage has been shown to reduce neuromuscular excitability by measuring changes in the Hoffman's reflex (H-reflex) amplitude. A decrease in peak-to-peak H-reflex amplitude suggests a decrease in motoneuron excitability. Others explain, "H-reflex is considered to be the electrical analogue of the stretch reflex...and the reduction" is due to a decrease in spinal reflex excitability. Field (2007) confirms that the inhibitory effects are due to deep tissue receptors and not superficial cutaneous receptors, as there was no decrease in H-reflex when looking at light fingertip pressure massage. It has been noted that "the receptors activated during massage are specific to the muscle being massaged", as other muscles did not produce a decrease in H-reflex amplitude.