A massage is the systematic manipulation of soft tissues of the body, to heal it from any pain. Thai massage and shiatsu have an increasing popularity in the west, as people are expressing more interest in yoga, Pilates, and other holistic forms of meditation and exercise. Different physical methods are used to apply fixed or movable pressure to the body. Therapists generally use their hands for therapy. However, they may also use the feet, elbows, or forearms.
Types of Massage
» Thai Massage
Thai massage evolved around 2000 years ago in Thailand. It uses guided stretching and Meridian pressure point therapy, combined with an ancient breathing method called pranayama. In this type, breathing methods are used to relax and cleanse the body, and simultaneously strengthen the nervous system. The sessions end with relaxation rituals that provide total rest to the body. They focus on two things - energy channels of the body (sen), and the different body muscles.
Different yoga elements make the massage flexible and enjoyable. This helps in improving focus, concentration, and more efficient oxidation of the blood. Pranayama is useful for cleansing the body, and strengthening the nervous system. It also helps in boosting the immune system.
» Chinese Massage
Chinese acupressure or tui na includes applying pressure to certain points of the body. This is rather a tough technique. The acupressure therapist enables the body to activate its self-healing abilities. This method is being used since 5000 years to treat back pain, migraines, headaches, anxiety, and stress. It provides intense relief, and has the added benefit of weight management.
» Japanese Shiatsu
The word 'shiatsu' is derived from the Japanese words shi meaning finger, and atsu meaning pressure. This massage is done using the palms, thumbs, and fingers. The pressure is applied to certain parts of the body. This is more effective in handling the emotional and psychological issues, than the physical ones. It helps in energy re-balance, and results in physical well-being.
Shiatsu includes pressure application, joint rotations, and stretches. It re-balances the bone system, maintains balance of the nervous system, enhances circulatory function, and improves muscle flexibility. Although it is widely practiced in China, the roots of this technique lie in the Japanese philosophy. This method focuses on the hara, the energy center of the body.
Acupressure is similar to acupuncture, but includes using hands instead of needles. In this technique, pressure is applied on various energy centers or meridians of the body. Due to this, different symptoms concerning different body parts are relieved. It also helps in improving the blood circulation.
» Indonesian massage
This therapy includes the use of special oils. The elements of the traditional Thai massage are executed. However, the span of this one is shorter than Thai massage. Spinal twists and some other techniques are utilized in this technique. Different problems concerning abdomen like indigestion, heartburn, bloating, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome can be treated.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
The main aim of massage therapy is to assist the body to heal itself, and enhance the health and well-being. Touch is the important aspect of this therapy. The sense of touch is used to determine the correct amount of pressure to apply to different individuals, and find out areas of tension and different soft-tissue problems. When muscles are overworked, waste products like lactic acid collect in the muscle and cause soreness, muscle spasms, and stiffness.
Massage enhances the circulation due to which blood flow is increased, and the body tissues are supplies with fresh oxygen. Therapeutic massage boosts the circulatory system and immune system, so that the blood pressure, muscle tone, circulation, digestion, and skin tone can be benefited.