Health and Fitness

Massage For Strains and Sprains

Strains and Sprains Very gentle massage can be used to ease the pain and swelling caused by both sprains and strains. A sprain is caused by the abnormal wrenching and twisting of a joint. A strain is a torn or stretched muscle. At the first opportunity, place a cold compress, such as an ice pack or a packet of frozen peas (wrapped in a towel or piece of clothing), on the injured area to reduce inflammation. The ankle is the most commonly sprained part of the body. If the ankle is very swollen and painful, consult a doctor before massaging to rule out the possibility of a dislocation or fracture. Very gentle massage can help reduce swelling and relieve pain. Massage for at least 10 minutes, and repeat several times a day. Continue this treatment for about a week or until the injury is healed. Start by gently stroking up the thigh toward the lymph nodes in the groin. Stroke up the sides of the calf to the knee, and glide gently back down to the ankle. Stroke extremely gently with short upward movements all around the ankle using your thumbs.

Massage - This Sporting Life

Massage has a long history as a way of enhancing athletes' performances and preventing sports injuries. Regular massage helps athletes as diverse as football players and dancers keep physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy. It improves performance by keeping muscles at the peak of their flexibility and strength, and reduces stiffness and muscle soreness. Sports massage also eases anxiety, keeping the athlete alert, yet calm. Regular sports massage provides improved speed, strength, flexibility, and quicker post-event recovery. Sports massage can be used both before and after an event. Ready, steady, go Massage can be extremely beneficial for athletes, or in fact anyone involved in athletic activity. Two to three days before a sporting (or other) event, give your partner a massage to help him or her feel relaxed and supple. A full body massage is ideal but, if you are short of time, massage the main muscles your partner will be using. Use rocking and kneading movements and, instead of finishing your massage with soporific stroking, use a stimulating movement, like pummeling, to increase blood supply.

The Mystique of Massage

On the one hand, massage is simplicity itself - what could be simpler and more rewarding than touching someone to make them feel better? On the other hand, it is a highly developed skill that has evolved over many centuries into one of the most popular complementary therapies. The good news is that you don't have to be a qualified massage therapist to give a good massage; all you need is someone to practise on and a willingness to learn. Before I go into how you do it, I would like to start with some background information on the history and development of massage as a healing and relaxing therapy. What is massage? Probably one of the oldest healing therapies known to man, massage is an extension of a basic instinct seen in animals and humans alike: apes groom each other, animals lick their wounds, humans rub away their aches and pains. The basis of massage is touch - the most fundamental of human needs; in fact, touch is so important that if it is absent or withdrawn it can lead to all sorts of problems, ranging from failure to thrive in babies, irritability and bad behavior in children, and depression in adults.

Massage - Touching on History

Throughout history and all over the world we have used our hands to promote healing. Although it is safe to say that the use of massage preceded written history, it is more difficult to say when it was first mentioned. Ancient Egypt and Greece The Ancient Egyptians used massage extensively for health and beauty that can be seen in tomb paintings dating back to 3, 000 BC. Recorded comments about massage were made by the Greek physician, Hippocrates, who noted in the 5th century BC that "rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid.. . hard rubbing binds, much rubbing causes parts to waste, and moderate rubbing makes them grow." Early written evidence One of the earliest references to massage in a written form can be found in a book on traditional Chinese medicine dating from the 3rd century BC, The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. It tells us that massage as a form of medical treatment was used for patients with "complete paralysis, chills and fevers, most fittingly treated with breathing exercises, and massage of the skin and flesh.

The Rise and Fall of Massage

After the fall of the Roman Empire the love of physical beauty was frowned upon and the use of massage was suppressed, although the use of the baths was retained in Turkey and brought back to Europe. Massage was kept alive in Western regions of Europe and became part of folk medicine, but practitioners were often persecuted by the Church who thought their healing powers came from the Devil. During the Renaissance, the ancient knowledge of the Greeks and Romans was reintroduced to Europe, and with it came a renewed interest in massage as a medical treatment. The French surgeon, Ambrose Pare (1517-1590), who was the personal physician to four kings, promoted the use of massage. In the 18th and 19th centuries, massage grew in popularity in Europe under the influence of Per Henrik Ling, whose system of Swedish massage spread from Stockholm and could be found as far away as Russia, France, and the US. A mixed reputation At the end of the 19th century, massage was a popular medical treatment, performed by physicians and surgeons, but "houses of ill repute" also used the word "massage" as a cloak for their own activities.

Types of Massage

Massage can be roughly divided into two kinds- one that emanates from the east and one from the west. Eastern massage Eastern massage is based on the premise in traditional Chinese medicine that the body is made up of vertical lines or meridians though which life energy flows. Disease is the manifestation of a disrupted or blocked flow of energy, and massage works by restoring the movement and thus relieves symptoms. Many varieties of massage follow this basic principle, for example Chinese massage, reflexology, and shiatsu. Western massage The type a massage used in the West das its roots in anatomy and physiology, and is usually based loosely on Swedish massage. Simply speaking, the theory is that stroking, pressing, and squeezing the flesh stimulates the circulation, therefore supplying more blood to the muscles and removing waste products of metabolism more effectively to prevent or remove a buildup. What the experts say Here is an explanation of what happens to us during a massage from Dr Candace Pert, a neurochemist from the US: "When people feel pleasure, as they usually do during a massage, they focus on the present moment rather than staying involved with worries and preoccupations.

Quick-Cure Shiatsu

In Addition to the well established cures for minor ailments as described in the previous section, there are a number of really quick, on-the spot, shiatsu relievers for other minor ailments that can hit anyone literally at any time. You can perform most of these pressures very discreetly, wherever you happen to be when the problem develops. When using Shiatsu quick cures, remember that you are treating the symptom and not the cause of the problem. If the symptom returns, you should consult a doctor or a shiatsu practitioner. Common cold Press on the web of skin between your thumb and forefinger. Press on the indentations at the base of your skull. Press at the base of your neck, on either side of the vertebrae and about three finger widths below. Stomachache Press three finger widths below your navel. Press in the groove on the outside of your shin bone, four finger widths below your knee. Toothache Press on the web of skin between your thumb and forefinger. Menstrual pain Squeeze on either side of your ankle just behind the bony prominence, and on the inside of your leg about four finger widths above the prominence.

The Japanese Art of Shiatsu

Shiatsu is an oriental therapy, also known as acupressure, in which various disorders are treated by pressing on the skin at precisely located points. Although considered a Japanese type of massage, shiatsu actually has its origins in traditional Chinese medicine. It is based on the Eastern principle that the energy of life flows though longitudinal meridians in the body. The aim of treatment is to apply pressure at certain points along these meridians to maintain harmony and good health. Look back in time Shiatsu, Literally translated as "finger pressure, " was introduced into Japan about 1, 500 years ago. It has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine and, like Chinese massage, is based on the theory that energy flows through meridians in the body. Humble beginnings For hundreds of years, the most common form of Japanese massage was anma, which was used as a form of relaxation. At the beginning of the 20th century; however, the therapeutic potential of shiatsu was rediscovered, and it enjoyed a renaissance as a result of Tamai Tempaku's work and inspiration.

The Japanese Art of Shiatsu - Key Principles

Shiatsu is based on the same principles as traditional Chinese medicine, according to which the life energy (ki in Japanese, qi in Chinese) circulates around the body through meridians. There are 14 meridians, each of which is associated with a major organ. Some practitioners work on whole meridians, while others focus on specific shiatsu points. There are about 600 points arranged symmetrically on the meridians on the body. Stimulating the acupoints externally by finger pressure and massage is said to influence the flow of ki, dispersing energy from where there is an excess (jitsu) and replenishing areas that are depleted (kyo). This is said to re-establish balance and restore health. Practice makes perfect The most important thing about shiatsu is using your body weight correctly to apply pressure. As you can imagine, to get this right requires considerable practice. In the courses I teach, the students spend their first 5 minutes crawling around the room on all fours. This is a simple way of teaching them how to relax their weight onto their hands, which is a key to applying pressure correctly in shiatsu.

Japanese Art of Shiatsu - Understanding Meridians

If you are having trouble with the concept of meridians, you can discover the appropriate places to apply pressure by exploring your partner's body with your hands. Meridians are usually longitudinal lines, so glide your thumb along the limbs, abdomen and back, and feel for indentations, or points, that seem to "want" to be pressed. Most points give a radiating sensation when pressed, rather like a dull, but pleasurable, ache. As you practice, work systematically moving from one acupoint to the next. Apply the pressure on the point as your partner breathes out. Release the pressure as your partner breathes in, and move on. Practicing shiatsu pressure techniques Different parts of the body require different degrees of pressure, which can be achieved using the following techniques: Ball of thumb: use the ball of your thumb and rest your fingers on the skin to help give a steady, even pressure. Do not use the tip of your thumb, because your nail, however short, will gouge the skin Elbow or forearm: make sure that your arm and hand are relaxed so that you apply a gentle pressure, not a hard prod.

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