Swedish massage uses five styles of strokes. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber or with the fibers) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks. The development of Swedish massage is often inaccurately credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johann Georg Mezger applied the French terms to name the basic strokes. The term “Swedish” massage is actually only recognized in English and Dutch speaking countries, and in Hungary. Elsewhere (including Sweden) the style is referred to as “classic massage”.
Cranial Sacral Therapy
Life and motion
Life expresses itself as motion. At a deep level of our physiological functioning all healthy, living tissues subtly “breathe” with the motion of life – a phenomenon that produces rhythmic impulses which can be palpated by sensitive hands. The presence of these subtle rhythms in the body was discovered by osteopath Dr William Sutherland over 100 years ago, after he had a remarkable insight while examining the specialized articulations of cranial bones. Contrary to popular belief Dr Sutherland realized that cranial sutures were, in fact, designed to express small degrees of motion. He undertook many years of research during which he demonstrated the existence of this motion and eventually concluded it is essentially produced by the body’s inherent life force, which he referred to as the “Breath of Life.” Furthermore, Dr Sutherland discovered that the motion of cranial bones he first discovered is closely connected to subtle movements that involve a network of interrelated tissues and fluids at the core of the body; including cerebrospinal fluid (the ‘sap in the tree’), the central nervous system, the membranes that surround the central nervous system and the sacrum.
The “Breath of Life”
The Breath of Life produces a series of subtle rhythms that may be palpated in the body and which make up an integrated physiological system. At least three subtle rhythms have been identified in this “primary respiratory system”, each having a different rate and producing rhythms within rhythms. These three “tides” are referred to as:
the cranial rhythmic impulse; a more superficial rhythm expressed at an average rate of 8-12 cycles per minute,
the mid-tide; a tidal rhythm that carries ordering forces into the body expressed at a slower rate of approximately 2.5 cycles per minute and
the long tide; a deep and slow rhythmic impulse expressed about once every 100 seconds. The long tide is considered to be the first stirring of life and motion as the Breath of Life emerges from a deeper ground of stillness at the center of our being.
Essential ordering principle
In the biodynamic approach of craniosacral work the subtle rhythms produced by the Breath of Life are regarded as expressions of health that carry an essential ordering principle for both body and mind. Dr Sutherland realized the important role played by the fluids in the body (particularly cerebrospinal fluid) in helping to disseminate these ordering forces throughout the body.
The essential ordering principle carried in the rhythms of the Breath of Life acts as a blueprint for health which is present from the time of our early embryological development and is the fundamental factor that maintains balance in our form and function. Thus, the ability of cells and tissues to express their primary respiratory motion is a critical factor in determining our state of health – when these rhythms are expressed in fullness and balance, health and well-being naturally follow.
During the course of our lives our bodies become patterned, shaped and conditioned according to how we¹re able to deal with any stresses or traumas. If stresses or traumas are overwhelming, they become locked in the body as sites of inertia – until such a time as we are able to access resources that allow them to be processed and released. These sites of inertia effect the natural rhythmical movements of the Breath of Life and so hinder the ability of our essential blueprint for health to manifest at a cellular level.
Common causes of inertia are physical injuries, emotional and psychological stresses, birth trauma and toxicity. Due to an accumulation of these stresses, tissues can become imprinted with the memory of unresolved experiences and so act like video tape which may keep replaying whenever stimulated.
A gentle facilitation
The emphasis in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy is to help resolve the trapped forces that underlie and govern patterns of disease and fragmentation in both body and mind. This involves the practitioner “listening through the hands” to the body’s subtle rhythms and any patterns of inertia or congestion. Through the development of subtle palpatory skills the practitioner can read the story of the body, identify places where issues are held and then follow the natural priorities for healing as directed by the patient¹s own physiology.
The intention of treatment is to facilitate the expression of the Breath of Life and so enhance the body’s own self-healing and self-regulating capabilities. This is done in a non-invasive way as the practitioner subtly and gently encourages the conditions that allow for the reemergence of primary respiratory motion. Furthermore, the practitioner’s deep and clear quality of presence can become a reflective mirror for the patient and an invaluable cue for their potential for change.
A holistic approach
Craniosacral Therapy takes a whole-person approach to healing and the inter-connections of mind, body and spirit are deeply acknowledged. It is an effective form of treatment for a wide range of illnesses helping to create the optimal conditions for health, encouraging vitality and facilitating a sense of well-being. It is suitable for people of all ages including babies, children and the elderly, and can be effective in acute or chronic cases.
A safe and very effective hands-on technique that involves applying gentle sustained pressure into the Myofascial connective tissue restrictions to eliminate pain and restore motion. This essential “time element” has to do with the viscous flow and the piezoelectric phenomenon: a low load (gentle pressure) applied slowly will allow a viscoelastic medium (fascia) to elongate.
Trauma, inflammatory responses, and/or surgical procedures create Myofascial restrictions that can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain sensitive structures that do not show up in many of the standard tests (x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, electromyography, etc.)
The use of Myofascial Release allows us to look at each patient as a unique individual. Our one-on-one therapy sessions are hands-on treatments during which our therapists use a multitude of Myofascial Release techniques and movement therapy. We promote independence through education in proper body mechanics and movement, self treatment instruction, enhancement of strength, improved flexibility, and postural and movement awareness.
Each Myofascial Release Treatment session is performed directly on skin without oils, creams or machinery. This enables the therapist to accurately detect fascial restrictions and apply the appropriate amount of sustained pressure to facilitate release of the fascia.
Sports massage is the specific application of massage techniques, hydrotherapy protocols, range of motion/flexibility protocol and strength-training principles utilized to achieve a specific goal when treating an athlete. Notice my use of the phrase, “specific application … to achieve a specific goal.” So, how do you decide what application and goal is appropriate for a particular treatment?
Three Key Principles of Sports Massage
Three specific principles are vital to understanding what type of sports massage to apply to an athlete at any given time. Timing, Technique and Intent.
Timing refers to when the massage is given: pre-event or post-event; during recovery; during a maintenance period; or when an athlete suffers an injury that requires rehabilitation. Technique refers to what application you utilize, and can include a number of different techniques: effleurage; friction; pettrisage; vibration; shaking; compression; broadening strokes; direct pressure; cross-fiber friction; range of motion; and stretching. Intent refers to your reason(s) for treatment: as warm-up; to increase blood flow; stimulate neurological pathways; aid recovery from exertion; increase flexibility; improve strength; or improve posture.
Let’s look at a few examples of how timing, technique and intent work. If you need to provide a pre-event massage, and the intent is to warm-up and increase blood flow, I would use techniques such as friction, compression, shaking and stretching. If you need to provide a post-event massage, and the intent is to aid recovery from exertion, using effleurage, pettrisage, compression, broadening strokes and range of motion. If you are working with an injured athlete, and your intent is to assist proper formation of scar tissue, using effleurage, compression and cross-fiber friction, followed by ice treatment and movement.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger Point pain is one of the more common ailments that affect the muscles in the human body. It is also one of the most painful considering the pain does not occur in just one area, but can cause tingling, numbness, and various other discomforts in areas at a distance from the source of the trigger point itself. To know if Trigger Point Therapy is required, you as the guest need to understand exactly what a trigger point is! A trigger point (also referred to as trigger site or a muscles knot) is a very tender spot in the body, often an isolated area within a particular muscle group – which will cause shooting pain in other areas of the body when stimulated. Trigger points can make themselves apparent in visible knots or in tight bands of muscle fibers. Due to the tenderness of these sites, people often fell that the long lasting benefits of Trigger Point Therapy are worth the temporary pain they feel as a result of treatment. Considering that an untreated trigger point is likely to cause increased, spreading pain and future problems with balance and correct posture, the long-term benefit of the therapy outweighs the short-term pain associated with Trigger Point Therapy.
One of the advantages of Trigger Point Therapy when compared to other massage therapies that are used to manage and treat pain is that it identifies and works very specific points of the body…specifically, those locations where the pain occurs to provide the best method of treatment for the pain.
Depending on where the pain is, and it usually occurs in the shoulders, back, or hips; the therapist will have the guest lie down in a way which is both comfortable for the guest, in the sense that other trigger points are not aggravated, and easy for the therapist to work the area. The therapist will then canvass the body in order to locate the exact area of where the trigger point is located. Location of the trigger point can be uncomfortable for many, especially if they have more than one. After locating the trigger point or points, the therapist will use several different finger techniques of varying pressure on and around the points in order to break down the build-up of the knot. Because of the direct pressure applied to the area which is affecting the guest the most, this can be uncomfortable. Depending on the size of the trigger point, it may take several visits to the therapist in order to be assured that the entire trigger point has been deactivated.
Post-Trigger Point Treatment
Once the trigger point has been effectively treated or removed, no matter how many visits it has taken, it is important for the guest to remain hydrated. The breaking down of the trigger point takes all of the toxins that have built up in these areas and releases them into the blood stream. Without proper hydration, it is likely that the toxins will make the guest sick. Drinking plenty of water and other healthy beverages allows for the toxins to wash out of the blood stream in a short period of time, allowing the guest to continue their lives both toxin and trigger point free. Additionally, many therapists will recommend that you take an Epsom salt bath to assist with removing toxins and muscle soreness.
Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
Essential oils are one of natures best kept secrets. I have personally use single oils and blends for different things. And every new oil or blend of oils comes with a different experience that may help you make a better choice to change your life for the better.
Oils can be used for reducing stress, increasing focus, soothing muscles, purifying my body, emotional balance and to support my immune system.
Need a specific example?
Lavender can help you relax and minimize stress at work, improve concentration and wind down before bedtime. Peppermint to cool skin during hot days, soothe digestion, and keep mentally sharp at the end of a long day.
All of us are looking to use a product that:
Is easy (and fun) to use, and works!
Is non-toxic to our body, our kids and our pets
Is friendly to our environment and the planet
Promotes emotional and physical well being
Improves the quality of our lives
Gives us an alternative solution
Has more benefits rather than side effects
But also remember that essential oils do not substitute for professional medical advice and treatment. If you are pregnant, taking medicine or under a doctor’s care, please do consult your physician.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The inhaled aroma from these “essential” oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Essential oils can also be absorbed through the skin, where they travel through the bloodstream and can promote whole-body healing.
A form of alternative medicine, aromatherapy is gaining momentum. It is used for a variety of applications, including pain relief, mood enhancement and increased cognitive function. There are a wide number of essential oils available, each with its own healing properties.
Reflexology is the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears. Reflexologists believe that these areas and reflex points correspond to different body organs and systems, and that pressing them has a beneficial effect on the organs and person’s general health.
Although reflexology is not used to diagnose or cure health disorders, millions of people around the world use it to complement other treatments when addressing conditions like anxiety, asthma, cancer treatment, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, headaches, kidney function, PMS, and sinusitis.
Prenatal and Pediatric Sessions
Prenatal massage is a wonderful way to ease the aches and pains that occur with the changes a woman’s body experiences during pregnancy and helps keep you balanced for labor and delivery. Massage and Craniosacral therapy help give your baby a healthy start in life.