Activate Your Immune System
A new study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, suggests that massage therapy can do more than just relax your muscles and help you feel better. It might also benefit your immune system since they found that people who get a massage show changes in their body’s immune and endocrine response.
According to the results of the study, massage may have caused a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and an increased number of lymphocytes, one of the three types of white blood cells. White blood cells are important in helping the body fight off infections and sickness. They play a large role in our immune system and keeping us healthy.
Lymphatic Drainage and its Benefits
Getting a lymphatic drainage helps:
· Activate the immune system: by stimulating the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system, invasive toxins in the body are pushed towards the lymph nodes where they can be analyzed and destroyed.
These are benefits that affect not only the body, but also the mind. A lymphatic drainage treatment along with other healthy habits, helps you against seasonal viruses and allows you to feel more relaxed and healthier. That’s why it’s so important to keep your lymph system healthy.
Massage therapy is a growing industry with research on its benefits continuously being conducted. It’s a craft that people need to be trained in so they can help improve the lives of others.
American Massage Therapy Association. (2018) Massage Therapy Industry Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.amtamassage.org/infocenter/economic_industry-fact-sheet.html
Mark Hyman Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee. (2010) The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 1079-1088.
Cupping Therapy: An Ancient Healing Technique Still Present in the Modern Day
The Suction Cups (Bá Guàn 拔罐 in Chinese), is an ancient technique that comes from traditional Chinese medicine, cupping therapy basically consists in using suction cups that adhere to the skin at specific points by the vacuum that is created within them.
There is evidence that not only the Chinese used it but also the Egyptians, Arabs, Greeks and in Europe during the Middle Ages, they were built of bamboo, glass, clay, bronze. Today they are usually made of glass or plastic.
Suction cup massage and other application methods
Although formerly cupping suckers could be ceramic, clay or bamboo, nowadays they are made of glass or plastic (with or without valve). In glass, this vacuum is obtained following the traditional method: by lighting a piece of cotton inside it to perform the combustion of oxygen and thus generate the vacuum once the suction cup is placed on the skin. The professional can resort to different methods of application with their manipulation, according to the objectives of the treatment:
- To free the body of toxins that circulate in the blood and lymph. This type of massage requires previously applying oil on the skin to easily slide the suction cup, which is usually plastic.
- Application and rapid extraction or flash cupping: this method is usually done with glass suction cups and is recommended to apply specifically on the back, for purposes of pulmonary decongestion. It is based on the placement of a suction cup for 2 or 3 seconds on a specific point and its withdrawal with a rapid movement. The process is repeated until the tour of the entire area to be treated is completed.
- Fixed suction cup or retained cupping: This technique is recommended to treat organic reflex areas at their reflex points in the back and also for the treatment of the points of maximum pain, the so-called trigger points, usually caused by severe contractures and structural blockages. It consists of leaving the suction cups on the skin for a few minutes, at specific points determined.
- Suction cup bleeding or needing cupping: it is a recommended method to reduce tension in highly inflamed or congested areas of the body through a slight blood draw. The skin is gently punctured to then place the fixed suction cup until the body releases the necessary amount.(Al-Bedah, 2019)
Muscle, energy and circulatory benefits
The experience of professionals who apply cupping and that of the patients themselves who undergo it allows us to say that the application of this therapy entails numerous health benefits of various kinds, sometimes in a preventive and another rehabilitative manner. Among them, the following:
- Increased blood and lymphatic circulation.
- Decreased pain.
- Detoxification of impurities.
- Work on contractures.
- Work at the energy level.
- Stimulation of metabolism and defenses.
- Relaxing, analgesic and anti-inflammatory.
- Debugging and myofascial release.
- Strengthening tendons.
- Improvement in disorders of the digestive system.
- Reduction of allergy symptoms and chronic fatigue.
- Evacuation of retained liquids.
- Improvement in the absorption of edema. (Castro, 2018)
Role in sport and scientific evidence of cupping
After a cupping session, also known as cupping therapy, it is possible to reduce muscle pain and fatigue, reduce inflammation and accelerate recovery. Hence, many high-performance athletes, such as athletes and Olympic swimmers, often use this technique to recover their physical condition quickly when they are in competition. In addition to resorting to it to eliminate contractures and prevent injuries.
A recent study on cupping, New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine ensures that there is initial scientific evidence on its effectiveness in reducing musculoskeletal pain. There are also works that underpin the validity of cupping therapy for back pain by stopping inflammatory processes. And postulates that recommend it when it comes to the autonomic nervous system and reduces pain. Now, it is true that new scientific papers are needed that provide more light on their real clinical and therapeutic effects. (Rozenfeld & Kalichman, 2015)
From the point of view of Western medicine, it is necessary to continue researching about this therapy and its scientific evidence. In this sense, professionals of Traditional Chinese Medicine recommend research aimed at standardizing protocols, types of suction cups, number of sessions and frequencies, etc. On the other hand, as it is an alternative therapy, the placebo effect may be at the origin of its benefits, since there are not enough studies to verify the number of benefits attributed to it.
What risks can the application of Cupping or suction cups have?
In the hands of an expert professional, the use of suction cups is a simple and meticulous job, without risk to the patient, who in turn will begin to feel the improvements he was looking for. However, it is advisable to convey security and confidence at all times, explain slightly what will be the method to be applied, tell you that you may feel some discomfort and warn you about the reddish appearance of the skin after the session. Normally, it shows circular welts or purple spots, the product of suction and blood flow congestion. But in a few days, these bruises disappear naturally.
Al-Bedah. (2019). The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine.
Castro. (2018). Cupping therapy and chronic back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Elsevier.
Rozenfeld & Kalichman. (2015). New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine. Beër Sjeva: Elsevier.
Which Type of Massage Best Suits Your Needs?
There are over 80 types of massage and each one of them with its own unique characteristics and benefits. Being aware of the different kinds of massage techniques is important to help you choose the right massage technique for your body.
From helping with stress relief, injury recovery, to pain management, here are the main types of massage you can probably find near you:
1- Swedish massage
Swedish massage is a gentle type of full-body massage that’s ideal for people who:
are new to massage
have a lot of tension
are sensitive to touch
It can help release knots in the muscles, and it is a great choice for people who want to fully relax. The massage therapist moves the sheet properly to uncover only areas that they actively work on, like feet, back, legs, arms and head.
The massage therapist will use a combination of:
long, flowing strokes in the direction of the heart
vibration and tapping
passive joint movement techniques
deep circular motions
2- Hot stone massage
If you have muscle pain and tension or who simply want to relax, this type of therapeutic massage is very similar to Swedish massage, but the massage therapist uses heated stones instead of or in addition to their hands. Hot stone massage:
Eases muscle tension
improves blood flow
During a hot stone massage, heated stones are placed on different areas around your whole body. Your therapist may hold a stone as they massage different parts of your body using Swedish massage techniques using gentle pressure. Sometimes cold stones are used as well.
Aromatherapy massages are good for people who want to have an emotional healing component to their massage. This kind of massage can help:
boost your mood
reduce stress and anxiety
reduce symptoms of depression
relieve muscle tension
Aromatherapy massages combine soft, gentle pressure with the use of essential oils. The massage therapist will usually decide which essential oils to use, but you can let them know if you have a preference. Essential oils are diluted before being applied to the skin.
4. Deep tissue massage
Deep tissue massage uses more pressure than a Swedish massage. It’s good for chronic muscle problems, like soreness, injury, or imbalance. It can help relieve tight muscles, chronic muscle pain, and anxiety.
The massage therapist uses slow strokes and deep finger pressure during the massage to relieve tension from the deepest layers of muscles and connective tissues. This technique is a little bit more intense, but shouldn’t feel painful.
5. Sports massage
Sports massage is used to treat repetitive use injury to a muscle, that people normally get from playing sports. It also helps with the prevention of sports injuries. You may also use sports massage to increase flexibility and performance. Additionally, sports massage can be used to relieve pain, anxiety, and muscle tension.
A sports massage can be done as a full-body massage or the massage therapist may focus on the specific parts of the body that need the most attention. Deep pressure massage may be alternated with soothing strokes.
6. Cupping Therapy
Cupping is an alternative therapy that originated in China. It involves placing cups on the skin to create suction and increase blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This technique helps relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue. The cups can be manipulated to help release fascial restrictions in the soft tissue.
7. Trigger point massage
Trigger point massages are suited for people with injuries, chronic pain, or a specific issue or condition. Sometimes areas of tightness in the muscle tissues, known as trigger points, can cause pain in other parts of the body. By focusing on relieving trigger points, this kind of massage can help reduce pain.
Trigger point massage uses broader, flowing strokes that are gentle and relaxing combined with stronger, deeper pressure. The massage includes work on the entire body, however, the therapist may focus on specific areas of the body that may need release.
8. Prenatal massage
Prenatal massage helps reduce pregnancy body aches, reduce stress, and ease muscle tension. It can be done at any time during pregnancy, however, women are advised not to have them in the first three months due to the risk of miscarriage.
Prenatal massage uses mild pressure and the therapist focuses on areas such as lower back, hips, and legs. During the massage, women lie on their side with pillows placed around them for support and comfort. If women report pain in their calves or other parts of the legs, they should see a doctor before getting a massage.
If you’re interested in a career in massage therapy, click here to find out more.
Craniosacral therapy is a revolutionary therapy that can help
In the past fifty to sixty years, the professional massage industry has expanded tremendously, widening its reach with the development of unique new therapies and other forms of alternative treatment.
One such innovative therapy is known as Craniosacral therapy, and it was developed in the 1970s by an osteopath by the name of John E. Upledger. After many years of research and clinical testing at Michigan State University, the therapy was more or less solidified and pioneered.
While the effectiveness of Craniosacral therapy has been largely debated over the past couple of decades, there are many who have benefited tremendously through its practice, and for this reason, it is still conducted by a multitude of certified professional massage therapists.
In this article, we will focus on explaining what Craniosacral therapy is all about, in addition to its considered benefits. This hopefully can serve as a resource for those interested in potentially getting certified as Craniosacral therapists, or for someone who would like to either integrate the practice into their life or into their career.
While we don’t specifically offer courses to get certified as a practitioner of Craniosacral therapy at ICOHS College, we do have a Professional Massage Therapist program, designed to provide students with hands-on training and the advanced skills needed to pursue a career in this highly rewarding and giving field.
What Is Craniosacral Therapy?
Typically utilized by chiropractors, osteopaths, and certified massage practitioners, Craniosacral therapy is an alternative massage practice and a form of cranial osteopathy that involves the use of gentle touch. These gentle movements manipulate various parts of the skull or cranium, spine, and pelvis, primarily adjusting the joints.
These light manipulations are said by some practitioners to help manage a variety of diseases and medical conditions. However, as with many alternative practices, Craniosacral therapy is susceptible to much criticism and skepticism, hence why there are plenty of people who do not believe in its benefits.
For those who do support Craniosacral therapy’s uses, it is an ideal form of management for the process is non-invasive and treats the body very delicately, making it suitable for even those with extreme pain or discomfort.
The Upledger Institute describes the touch of Craniosacral therapy as “a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel”.
Considered more of a preventative health measure that helps increase the body’s ability to manage and deal with disease and various ailments, these mild manipulations function in the sense that they improve the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid, along with freeing restrictions throughout the central nervous system, predominantly throughout the soft tissues that surround it.
Since the craniosacral system heavily influences the central nervous system, both of these connect closely and influence one another. The gentle manipulations of these regions encourage equilibrium around the spinal cord and brain, which in turn helps the body to naturally correct itself and prevent the furthering of a variety of dysfunctions and ailments.
Osteopaths often will prescribe treatments of CST (Craniosacral therapy) alongside other forms of therapies, but sometimes Craniosacral therapy is also used in a stand-alone way depending on the individual needs of the patient.
Craniosacral Therapy: The Benefits
Practitioners of CST have utilized the therapy for a number of ailments and conditions. While few studies have been conducted to prove Craniosacral therapy’s efficacy for illness, the Upledger Institute does list a number of conditions that CST has addressed including:
● Chronic fatigue
● Spinal cord and brain injuries
● TMJ syndrome
● Headaches and migraines
● Traumatic brain injury and concussion
● Chronic pain, especially throughout the back and neck regions
● CNS disorders
● Orthopedic conditions
While this list is fairly comprehensive, if you are considering receiving CST, be sure to speak with a qualified, trained Craniosacral therapy professional who can devise a course of action for the specific needs of your circumstances.
Understanding Craniosacral Therapy: Final Thoughts
Now that the practice of Craniosacral therapy has been presented, you can hopefully decide better if this is the right therapy or even career choice for you. As with all things in life, Craniosacral therapy is not a one shoe fits all solution.
For some, Craniosacral therapy is immensely helpful, healing, and restorative. Yet, there is not an extensive amount of comprehensive research available to strongly scientifically back up claims made of its effectiveness.
In all reality, CST is not a practice that is of benefit to everyone, so it is important to decide for yourself how you feel about it and commit to further in-depth research on the topic. The advantage here is that there is very low risk involved in receiving Craniosacral therapy, so the positive effects could far outweigh the negatives or any potential hazards.
If you are located in the San Diego area and are interested in studying to become a Professional Massage Therapist, at ICOHS College we offer this exact program designed for prospective students to learn the advanced skills and gain the practical training needed to pursue this career path.
Our Professional Massage Therapist program goes far beyond the standards set by the California Massage Therapy Council. While we don’t offer training on Craniosacral therapy specifically, we do have a number of other educational and exciting classes available, including:
● Energy Channels & Acupoints – Tui Na
● Shiatsu – Zen Touch
● Client Assessment
● Business Practices
● Special Populations
● Communications, Ethics and Career Prep
● MBLEx Preparation
● Practicum – Clinic & Community Outreach
● Fundamentals of Holistic Health
● Anatomy and Massage
● Strategies for Success
● Touch Anatomy
● Circulatory Massage
● Deep Tissue Massage
● Passive Joint Mobilization
● Anatomy with Manikins
● Eastern Perspectives
● Chi Integrated Exercises
These courses prepare students to pursue careers as entrepreneurs and massage business owners, along with careers in settings such as doctor’s offices, chiropractor’s offices, nursing homes, hospitals, holistic health clinics, cruise ships, spas and resorts, massage therapy clinics, and health clubs/fitness centers.
Our dedicated educators are passionate about seeing their students succeed and fully pursue their professional goals.
Does this sound like the right next step for you in your education path? Reach out to us today and request more information about our Professional Massage Therapist program.
What are massage oils for?
Benefits of massage oils
They facilitate the movements
The oils relieve pain and tensions
Great benefits at low prices
The oils care and nourish the skin
What oils can be used for a massage?
Aloe Vera massage oil
Orchid oil for massages
Lavender essential oil for muscle aches
Almond oil massages
Foot massages with mint
A glance at this unique ancient massage technique
In this fast-moving world, everything is always changing – and what seems like lightning speed. This is especially true for trends. Spa trends are no different, however, some seem to latch on for longer periods of time than others.
One steadily increasing trend in the bodywork field is known as therapeutic herbal poultice treatments. These treatments complement massage practices, and while they have only started trending over the course of the past few years, this technique actually originates from ancient times hailing from the practices of various indigenous groups.
One of the best-known origins is 14th century Thailand, where a similar hot pack was applied to war-soldiers that were coming back from battle. The combination of the heat, along with medicinal herbs, made it a promising solution for those in pain and discomfort, and also caused its more modern version, the herbal poultice treatment, to become an integral part of Thai medicine.
What Are Therapeutic Herbal Poultice Treatments?
At ICOHS College, we offer a comprehensive Professional Massage Therapist program that is crafted with each student’s goals and intentions in mind. For those who are passionate about massage and are interested in becoming licensed massage therapists, learning more about the therapeutic herbal poultice treatment is potentially useful information.
These steamed pouches are then stamped, rocked, and kneaded along the body utilizing a specialized technique that is designed to optimize the therapeutic benefits of the practice.
The ingredients that fill these poultice sacks can vary from region to region and are dependent upon where the treatment is conducted, but it is common for lemongrass, turmeric, camphor, ginger, and Kaffir lime to be a part of the mix. In some places, rice or sand are also added for additional stimulation and further impac