Massage therapists have enjoyed successful careers throughout human history; but it was not until modern times that comprehensive training programs in the field existed. With professional training, massage therapists can help clients work towards healthier, more relaxed bodies that are spiritually, emotionally, and physically balanced. Massage therapy certification is provided by reputable schools across the U.S.; classes cover new and old massage techniques. Schools teach massage techniques from around the world. Swedish massage is the most popular, but classes in acupressure, chair massage, and deep tissue massage also instruct students in techniques for helping to heal the body and correct chronic conditions and injuries. How did ancient massage therapy develop into modern techniques? 1500-3000 BCE The Chinese produced some of the earliest texts used to treat illness with massage. Doctors combined their knowledge of medicine with methods of martial arts to produce techniques that coincided with the spiritual nature of Buddhism and Taoism.
I am always surprised by the number of people who carry tension in their chests. Bad posture; sitting cramped over a desk; hunching over a steering wheel; certain sports, such as golf; and illnesses such as asthma, can all cause strain and tension in chest muscles. The chest muscles shorten and contract, causing the muscles in the upper back to become overstretched. This results in rounded shoulders and tight, inflexible muscles in the neck and shoulders. Massage can really help to stretch and relax the chest muscles, and thus alleviate aching in the upper back and neck. Working on the muscles between the ribs can help to straighten out the shoulders. Get it off your chest The ideal time to do a chest massage is before you massage the face but it also fits in naturally after a back or stomach massage, or after massage, or after massaging one arm, and before the other. Your partner should lie on his or her back and you should stand or kneel behind the head. Some people like to put a small cushion or a thick book, such as a phone book (thick but not too hard);
Continue the chest and shoulder massage with gentle stroking movements. This will gentle stroking movement. This will disperse the oil and soothe the area at the same time. Spread the oil by stroking the whole chest and shoulder area with firm, flowing movements. Start with your hands next to each other, just below the clavicle at the base of her neck. Stroke down the chest toward the breast or nipple, keeping the pressure smooth but firm. Then fan out your hands and, keeping them relaxed, glide out across the chest toward the shoulders. Making sure your hands mold to the contours of your partner's body, stroke over the shoulders. Cup your hands over the shoulders and gently press the shoulders toward the feet or down onto the floor. Swing your fingers around to the back of the shoulders. Stroke behind them, and bring your fingers slowly up the back of the neck. Then glide your hands very lightly down the sides of the neck to the collarbone. Repeat the sequence at least four times.
Although massage has been around for centuries in Eastern cultures, it didn't really take off in the West until the 19th century. Under the influence of a Swedish physiologist and fencing master, Pir Henrik Ling (1776-1839), a system was developed that combined massage with physical exercise. This became known as Swedish massage, and is still the basis for most massage practiced in the West today. Ling gave French terms to many of the movements he devised, and they are still in use today: effleurage (stroking); petrissage (kneading); frictions (circular pressures); and tapotement (percussion). In order to keep everything simple I will use the translations as these are the words I have used throughout the book. Key principles A sequence of Swedish massage usually starts with stroking, followed by kneading, friction, vibrations, percussion, stroking again, and then passive movements. It traditionally takes place on a massage couch, since it is essential for the masseur to keep a straight back.
Massage is practiced all over the world by many different cultures. Simply speaking, it can be divided into two main types, or systems, depending on whether it originates in the West or the East. Most of the massage done in developed countries is based on so-called Swedish massage, which started as a form of physiotherapy in the early 19th century. A different system that involves softly palpating the skin is known as manual lymphatic drainage. Passive movements Clasp the toes with one hand and give the ankle some support with the other. Slowly rotate the foot a few times, then flex the toes gently backward and forward. Holding the ankle with one hand, raise the leg and bend the knee forward, supporting the thigh with your other hand. Straighten the leg and repeat the movement several times. Arms and hands Follow the sequence for legs and feet, adapting the movements for the smaller surface area of the arms, working down toward the hands. Chest Place your hands side by side, just below the collar bone, and stroke (effleurage) firmly down the chest.
The type of massage you use depends on the intensity of the headache and what your partner prefers. You can use very gentle feather stroking or deep firm pressure. It is generally best to start with slow, superficial stroking and then as the pain subsides and your partner relaxes and feels confident of your touch, you can apply firm pressures to key points. Although every headache is different, I find that I get the best results by following this general pattern. Always use smooth, rhythmic, and compassionate movements. Stroke up the forehead very gently and slowly, then rhythmically stroke the chest and shoulders, and up the back of the neck. Apply circular pressures behind the shoulders, up the back of the neck on either side of the spine, at the base of the skull, and on the scalp. Gently stroke the whole face from the center out to the sides. Press the bridge of the nose, then pinch the eyebrows, and press on the temples. Press in the middle of the cheek, directly under the cheekbone, and then apply a line of pressures up the center of the forehead, from between the eyebrows to the hairline.
Good face massage can soothe away anxiety, headaches, and exhaustion, and replace them with a feeling of serenity and well-being. It can leave people looking and feeling years younger. By stimulating circulation, a face massage gives a healthy, vibrant glow to the complexion, and by relaxing taut muscles, it rids the face of weariness. Head massage is the perfect complement to face massage, and the result is relaxation in every part of the body. A thin layer of muscle covers the skull, which tightens when we are tense, leading to headaches and stress. A head massage can relax this muscle and generally ease tension and anxiety throughout the body. Stroke away your worries A face massage can literally stroke away tension. For the best effect your hands must be relaxed, and the movements should feel flowing and confident. Remember that the face is particularly sensitive, so be sure to use enough lubrication that you avoid dragging the skin. Also check that your hands are completely free of rough skin and that your nails are short so that they don't scratch your partner's face.
As you approach the end of the face massage, you should go back to stroking. Place one of your hands across the forehead and stroke up toward the hairline, molding your hand around the forehead. Lift your hand away and begin stroking with your other hand, returning the first hand to start again. For the final touch, cup your hands over the forehead. Hold them still for a couple of seconds, then slowly and gently press down. Hold the pressure for a moment then release it very gradually so that your hands lift slowly away from the forehead. This simple technique seems to consolidate the whole face massage, and it feels as though you are pulling out the last vestiges of tension from the body. Quick checklist for face massage Use this list to remind yourself of the steps in a face massage. Stroking, then cupping the face Stroking the neck and jaw Patting and slapping the chin Circular movements around the mouth and chin Stroking the cheeks Stroking and circular movements on the forehead Circular pressures around the eyes;
Now move down to pay attention to the neck and jawline. Working with both of your hands on one side, stroke with one hand firmly up the neck from the shoulder to the ear. Then, lift your hand away and start stroking with your other hand on the same side. Repeat this move six times on each side. Continue stimulating the jawline by patting and slapping under the chin. Use the ring and middle fingers of each of your hands to slap under the jaw. This is a bouncy percussion movement, which should stimulate but not sting. A cheeky little massage Now move up the face slightly to the cheeks. Make small, upward circular movements around the mouth with the tips of your middle fingers. Work with both hands, crossing your thumbs to equalize the pressure of your hands. Then make these circles around the chin and on the mandible, paying particular attention to the mandibular joint (just in front of the ears) since this area is often very tense. Ask your partner to clench his or her teeth to locate the area.
Being one of the greatest sources of tension in the whole body, the neck can benefit hugely from a good massage. Bad posture, stress, drafts, and poor working conditions can all cause neck pain, but even the sheer weight of your head can often cause your neck to ache. As with chest and shoulder massage, work standing or kneeling behind your partners head. Side stroking Your partner should be lying on his or her back. Using both of your hands together, stroke one side of the base of your partner's neck. Lean slightly toward the side you are working on, and stroke with one hand from the shoulder up the neck to the base of the skull. As your hand reaches the ear, follow the movement with your other hand. Lift off your first hand and return it to the shoulder as your other hand strokes up your partner's neck. Try to keep the return movement smooth, so that the whole sequence feels flowing and your partner cannot tell when one stroke finishes and the next begins. Repeat the strokes several times on one side of the body, then copy the sequence on the other side.