Massage is the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques, to enhance function, aid in the healing process, decrease muscle reflex activity, inhibit motor-neuron excitability, promote relaxation and well-being, and as a recreational activity.
The word comes from the French massage “friction of kneading”, or from Arabic massa meaning “to touch, feel or handle” or from Latin massa meaning “mass, dough”,cf. Greek verb “to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough”. In distinction the ancient Greek word for massage was anatripsis, and the Latin was frictio.
Massage involves working and acting on the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, or feet.
In professional settings massage involves the client being treated while lying on a massage table, sitting in a massage chair, or lying on a mat on the floor, while in amateur settings a general purpose surface like a bed or floor is more common. The massage subject may be fully or partially clothed or unclothed.
Swedish Massage, San Diego, California, US.
San Diego is the eighth-largest city in the United States and second-largest city in California. The city is located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, immediately adjacent to the Mexican border. The birthplace of California, San Diego is known for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, long association with the U.S. Navy, and recent emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology development center. The population was 1,322,553 based on latest population estimates for 2012.
Historically home to the Kumeyaay people, San Diego was the first site visited by Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Upon landing in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Cabrillo claimed the entire area for Spain, forming the basis for the settlement of Alta California 200 years later. The Presidio and Mission of San Diego, founded in 1769, were the first European settlement in what is now California. In 1821, San Diego became part of newly independent Mexico, and in 1850, became part of the United States following the Mexican-American War and the admission of California to the union.
The city is the county seat of San Diego County and is the economic center of the San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos metropolitan area as well as the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. San Diego’s main economic engines are military and defense-related activities, tourism, international trade, and manufacturing. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center, has helped make the area a center of research in biotechnology.
Tourism is a major industry owing to the city’s climate, its beaches, and numerous tourist attractions such as Balboa Park, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego. San Diego’s Spanish and Mexican heritage is reflected in the many historic sites across the city, such as Mission San Diego de Alcala and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Annual events in San Diego include Comic-Con, the Farmers Insurance Open golf tournament, San Diego Pride, the San Diego Black Film Festival, and Street Scene Music Festival. Also, the local craft brewing industry attracts an increasing number of visitors for “beer tours” and the annual San Diego Beer Week in November; San Diego has been called “America’s Craft Beer Capital.”
Swedish massage uses five styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) 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 Johan Georg Mezger adopted the French names to denote 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”.
Swedish massage is the most common and best-known type of massage in the West. If it’s your first time at the spa or you don’t get massage very often, Swedish massage is the perfect massage for you. If you want deeper work and can tolerate more pressure, even momentary discomfort, to get relief from muscle pain, it’s better to book a deep tissue massage, which is another form of Swedish massage.
Swedish massage and other types of therapeutic massage are performed by trained, licensed massage therapists. A Swedish massage can be slow and gentle, or vigorous and bracing, depending on the therapist’s personal style and what he or she wants to achieve. Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, as opposed to energy work on “meridiens” or sen lines in Asian massage systems. Most people get a 50 or 60-minute Swedish or deep tissue massage, but 75 or 90-minutes gives the therapist more time to work the muscle tissue and achieve results.
In all Swedish massage, the therapist lubricates the skin with massage oil and performs various massage strokes. These movements warm up the muscle tissue, releasing tension and gradually breaking up muscle “knots” or adhered tissues, called adhesions. Swedish massage promotes relaxation, among other health benefits. Before the massage, the therapist should ask you about any injuries or other conditions that he or she should know about. Things you would want tell a therapist include areas of tightness or pain, allergies, and conditions like pregnancy. You can also tell them up front if you have a preference for light or firm pressure. It’s best not to get a massage if you are ill.
After the consultation, the therapist instructs you how to lie on the table — face up or face down, and underneath the sheet or towel — and then leaves the room. He or she will knock or ask if you are ready before entering. During a Swedish massage you are generally nude underneath a towel or sheet. The therapist uncovers only the part of the body he/she is working on, a technique called draping. If the nudity gets you out of your comfort zone, you can keep your underwear on, and many newcomers do.
You usually start by laying face down with your head in a u-shaped face cradle so your spine stays neutral. The therapist generally starts by works your back, using various massage strokes that include effleurage, kneading, friction, stretching and tapping.
When he’s finished with the back, he or she works the back of each leg. When done with the back side, he or she holds the sheet or towel up and looks away while you turn over onto your back and scoot down; then he or she quickly covers you again. The therapist then massages the front of each leg, both arms, and generally finishes with your neck and shoulders.
Some therapists work in a different order, and all have their own style and techniques. If you only have 50 minutes, you can also ask them to spend more time on a certain area. If the pressure is too light or too firm, you should speak up and ask the therapist to adjust it. Swedish massage usually includes some deeper work on areas of specific muscle tension, but if you truly want deepter, more intensive work and firmer pressure, book a deep tissue massage.
The cost of a Swedish massage will vary, depending on whether you go to a day spa, resort spa, destination spa, a chain like Massage Envy or go to a massage therapist. Swedish massage pricing will also depend on what part of the country you live and how luxurious the spa is.
Swedish massage is based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology as opposed to energy work that is more common in Asian-style massage. Both Swedish massage and physical therapy were pioneered by a Swedish physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839)at the University of Stockholm.
In the early 19th century he developed a system called “Medical Gymnastics” which included movements performed by a therapist. These became the known as “Swedish movements” in Europe and “the Swedish Movement Cure” when they came to the U.S. in 1858. Today it is simply known as Swedish massage.
Swedish massage is the foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports massage, deep tissue massage and aromatherapy massage.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity (such as athletes), and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is not uncommon for receivers of deep tissue massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two.
The term “deep tissue” is often misused to identify a massage that is performed with sustained deep pressure. Deep tissue massage is a separate category of massage therapy, used to treat particular muscular-skeletal disorders and complaints and employs a dedicated set of techniques and strokes to achieve a measure of relief. It should not be confused with “deep pressure” massage, which is one that is performed with sustained strong, occasionally intense pressure throughout an entire full-body session, and that is not performed to address a specific complaint. Deep tissue massage is applied to both the superficial and deep layers of muscles, fascia, and other structures. The sessions are often quite intense as a result of the deliberate, focused work. When a client asks for a massage and uses the term “deep tissue”, more often than not he or she is seeking to receive a full-body session with sustained deep pressure throughout. If a practitioner employs deep tissue techniques on the entire body in one session, it would be next to impossible to perform; it might lead to injury or localized muscle and nerve trauma, thereby rendering the session counterproductive.
Deep tissue massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders.
Some of the same strokes are used as classic massage therapy, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain.
When there is chronic muscle tension or injury, there are usually adhesions (bands of painful, rigid tissue) in muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Adhesions can block circulation and cause pain, limited movement, and inflammation.
Deep tissue massage works by physically breaking down these adhesions to relieve pain and restore normal movement. To do this, the massage therapist often uses direct deep pressure or friction applied across the grain of the muscles.
At certain points during the massage, most people find there is usually some discomfort and pain.
It is important to tell the massage therapist when things hurt and if any soreness or pain you ecperience is outside your comfort range.
There is usually some stiffness or pain after a deep tissue massage, but it should subside within a day or so. The massage therapist may recommend applying ice to the area after the massage.
Benefits of Deep Tissue Massage
Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Limited mobility
- Recovery from injuries (e.g. whiplash, falls, sports injury)
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Postural problems
- Ostearthritis pain
- Muscle tension or spasm
According to the August 2005 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, 34,000 people ranked deep tissue massage more effective in relieving osteoarthritis pain than physical therapy, exercise, prescription medications, chiropractic, acupuncture, diet, glucosamine and over-the-counter drugs.
Deep tissue massage also received a top ranking for fibromyalgia pain. People often notice improved range of motion immediately after a deep tissue massage.
Massage therapists may use fingertips, knuckles, hands, elbows, and forearms during the deep tissue massage.
You may be asked to breathe deeply as the massage therapist works on certain tense areas.
It is important to drink plenty of water as you can after the massage to flush metabolic waste from the tissues.
Massage is not recommended for certain people:
- Infectious skin disease, rash, or open wounds
- Immediately after surgery
- Immediately after chemotherapy or radiation, unless recommended by your doctor
- People with osteoporosis should consult their doctor before getting a massage
- Prone to blood clots. There is a risk of blood clots being dislodged. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before having a massage
- Pregnant women should check with their doctor first if they are considering getting a massage. Massage in pregnant women should be done by massage therapists who are certified in pregnancy massage.
- Massage should not be done directly over bruises, inflamed skin, unhealed wounds, tumors, abdominal hernia, or areas of recent fractures.
Don’t eat a heavy meal before the massage
If it’s your first time at the clinic or spa, arrive at least 10 minutes early to complete the necessary forms. Otherwise, arrive 5 minutes early so you can have a few minutes to rest and relax before starting the massage.