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Learn about different massage types at ICOHS College

6 Popular Massage Therapy Techniques

By Health, Massage Therapy No Comments
Massage therapy can help people of all types depending on the type of massage technique. Massage therapists word in hotels, spas, resorts, clinics and more. Massage therapy can be used to help those that are dealing with injuries, those that need stress-relief, and those that just want to experience the benefits of massage.
There is a variety of massage techniques that massage therapists can learn and practice. Each one can help with different types of issues ranging from muscle pain, back pain, and more.
Deep Tissue Massage
This technique focuses on treating musculoskeletal issues, like strains and sports injuries. As the name suggests, it involves applying a lot of pressure in slow and deep strokes. This helps target the inner layers of your muscles and tissues in order to reduce tension and break down any scar tissue that tries to form following an injury.
Deep tissue massage can help alleviate the pain that stems from deep in the muscles. After receiving a deep tissue massage, you might feel sore due to the amount of pressure that is used. But, the long-term benefits are worth the temporary pain.
Shiatsu
Shiatsu originated from Japan. It focuses on the acupressure points in the body in order to relieve stress and pain. The goal is to stimulate the acupressure points to improve the flow of energy within the body. This can help relieve stress, treat pain, and contributes to overall health.
Unlike other types of massage, there is no oil or lotion that is used. Massage therapists that do shiatsu massage therapy rely on their fingers, thumbs, and palms to apply pressure to parts of the body. It can regulate nervous system activity and promote good circulatory and lymphatic health.
Swedish Massage
Swedish massage is actually the standard type of massage that is offered in most spas, clinics, and more. Therapists will start with lotion or oil paired with broad general strokes to start the massage. Then, they transition into focusing more on your problem areas.
This the type of massage you might be most familiar with, especially if you’ve gotten a massage before. There are a handful of strokes that Swedish massage therapy uses regularly. It helps provide full-body relaxation for those looking for pain and stress relief.
Reflexology
Reflexology focuses on applying different levels of pressure to the feet, hands, and ears. Unlike other types of massage, it is only focused on these parts of the body. Those that practice this technique are known as reflexologists.
Reflexology is based on the idea that areas of the foot are linked to organs and systems of the body. This means that when pressure it applied to these areas, it is believed to bring relaxation or healing to the linked area of the body. There are foot charts that indicate which specific parts are linked to each part of the body.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot stone massages are quite common in spas. This type of massage is done by placing smooth, black stones are that slightly hot on the shoulders and back. The warmth of the stones can make people feel more relaxed. Heat relaxes the muscles which allows the massage therapist to work deeper into the muscles while applying less pressure.
This technique shouldn’t be painful at all. Even though the stones are heated, they shouldn’t be heated to the point of causing the patient pain. If you ever feel pain during a massage therapy session, please be sure to tell your massage therapist.
Aromatherapy Massage
An aromatherapy massage is actually a subset of Swedish massage therapy, but they use oils and lotions that contain essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant oils that usually have a relaxing aroma. When you inhale the essential oil scent or absorb them in your skin, it is thought to affect your emotions in a positive way.
Essential oils are used for aromatherapy
Some examples of essential oils used are lavender, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, and chamomile oil. There are more that have different properties that range from calming to energizing. Essential oils may cause an allergic reaction, so you should be cautious and aware before getting an aromatherapy massage.
If you’re interested in becoming a massage therapist and learning some of these techniques, check out our massage therapist program: https://icohs.edu/programs/professional-massage-therapist/
Hot Stone Massage at ICOHS College

8 Types of Massage

By Health, Massage Therapy No Comments

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:

kneading
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
alleviates pain
promotes relaxation
relieves stress

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.

3.Aromatherapy massage

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
relieve pain

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.

Hot Stone Massage Therapy

Hot Stone Therapy: Understanding This Massage Practice

By Fitness, Health No Comments

A Quintessential Complement to a Relaxing Massage

There are many known benefits of massage therapy, from improved circulation and reduced stress to stimulation of the lymphatic system and increased joint flexibility. Many medical resources encourage readers to get massages, including Mayo Clinic and WebMD, and the major reason why is because people seem to be noticing a difference.

As the practice of massage continues to expand throughout the Western world, many variations of the treatment have come to light. From deep tissue and sports massage to Swedish and Thai massage to craniosacral therapy, there is an extensive number of techniques along with qualified specialists who are skilled at their respective styles of bodywork.

One form of massage therapy, known as hot stone therapy, has become a restorative, relaxing, and rejuvenating favorite. In order to encourage a better understanding of this massage practice, in this article we discuss hot stone therapy, explaining what exactly it consists of, along with the potential benefits of this treatment.

What Is Hot Stone Therapy?

Hot stone therapy is the practice of using heat-retaining flat rocks, typically basalt, on specific regions of the body (often referred to as acupressure points.) Hot stone therapy often begins with deep tissue massage (such as Swedish massage) to loosen tight areas of the body. Then, flat river stones that have been warmed between 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit are aligned along the spine, palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, and close to the toes. Your massage therapist may place them in other regions of the body as well, but usually, the spine is the most common region of application.

The stones are warmed in a specialized stone heater, which looks much like a crockpot. This is done to better control the temperature of the rocks in order to prevent any chances of burns or scalding.

Massage professionals do not use hot plates, microwaves, or ovens to warm the rocks, so to avoid injury, be sure to look out for any mispractice that might take place amongst inexperienced massage therapists.

Hot Stone Therapy: The Benefits

Due to the immensely relaxing nature of hot stone therapy, it possesses a number of benefits. The primary way in which this treatment helps is by loosening muscles, which is ideal for those who have aches and pains on the body.

Although many do receive hot stone therapy because of the benefits it might provide, their accounts of success are more so personal for research is seriously lacking. That is not to say, however, that it does not exist.

Moderate-pressure massage, which hot stone therapy does qualify as has been said to assist with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. A 2013 study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice reported that participants with arthritis felt less pain after a mere month of medium pressure massage.

In addition to physical pain, hot stone massage is also at times linked to potentially reduced stress, and in turn, reduced anxiety and an overall better mood. A study published Bowling Green State University in 1997 found that those who received a 15-minute chair massage during a break were reportedly less stressed than those who did not and merely rested on their break.

Although related specifically to the broad description of massage, a 2014 study published in the journal Sleep Science found that postmenopausal women who were dealing with difficult insomnia slept better after receiving a massage, expressing it is a promising solution for such applications.

In addition to potentially reducing stress or anxiety, improving insomnia, and lessening various aches and pains, receiving a hot stone massage is a pleasant experience, particularly for those who enjoy receiving rejuvenating bodywork and find it to be effective.

While these studies mentioned are all a start, they do not fully confirm that hot stone therapy is a treatment for any of the above referenced medical conditions. As always, communicate with your doctor first if you determine that massage or hot stone therapy is the right option for your medical needs.

 

How to Practice Hot Stone Therapy

The process of application throughout a hot stone therapy appointment is fairly straight forward and normally unfolds in the following steps:

You will arrive at your appointment and the receptionist will have you fill out a health questionnaire if you are a first-time client.

Someone will guide you into a dressing room where you can prepare for your massage by removing your garments. Begin to relax already, the massage will be soon.

Your massage therapist will greet you and have you get situated comfortably on the massage table.

The massage therapist will have heated basalt or smooth stones in a specialized stone warmer which will heat the rocks to 120-130 degrees Fahrenheit typically.

Your massage therapist will likely begin the massage by performing some type of deep tissue technique, for instance, Swedish massage. They may then refer to an anatomy chart for stone placement or simply place the stones on the acupressure points along the body that are most tailored to you.

Your massage therapist will likely ask you how you are feeling throughout the massage, but you should always remember to speak up and ask for any adjustments as desired.

The hot stones will be placed along the body and then rubbed into the tissues and muscles of the body to further stimulate healing, recovery, and rejuvenation. Because of the oils and application, the smooth rocks will slide with ease and the experience is often said to be comforting.

Some things to note:

Consider arriving a bit earlier to your appointment. Allow sufficient time to speak with the receptionist if need be, as well as prepare mentally and physically for such a relaxing experience. Spas often require you to fill out a questionnaire if you are a first time client, so you do not want to feel rushed or in a hurry right before your treatment. Arriving well in advance (10 minutes is plenty) will save yourself from any extra stress.

Communicate clearly with your massage therapist. Are you experiencing pain? Are the stones too hot? Speak up and let your specialist know right away! Hot stone therapy, although at times a little intense, should not be painful or uncomfortable. Although sometimes deep tissue massage can feel overwhelming, it should not leave you suffering. Your massage therapist wants your experience to be as pleasant as possible and this can be further achieved with a straightforward transmission of how you are feeling.

Drink plenty of water after your treatment! The heat from the stones can be at times dehydrating, and in general, it is important for the body to rehydrate after any form of bodywork. Opting for an herbal, caffeine-free tea is also a delightful and health-inducing way to unwind after a massage.

Use Your Discretion with Hot Stone Therapy

Hot stone therapy is not right for everyone. In fact, those who have heart disease, migraines, arthritis, decreased pain sensitivity, metal implants, tumors, diabetes, or high blood pressure should not agree to receive hot stone therapy. Please consult your doctor beforehand if you intend to get hot stone therapy and have a medical condition.

Understanding Hot Stone Therapy: Final Words

Overall, many clients experience hot stone therapy as a pleasant and refreshing body treatment that helps knots, aches, and pains release because of deeper applied pressure and increased heat. Although not the right option for everyone, those who are fond of deep tissue massage and intense application of pressure generally really enjoy hot stone therapy, and some claim the heat from the rocks is comforting and soothing.

Interested in becoming a licensed massage therapist? Searching for massage schools or career colleges in San Diego? ICOHS College is a non-profit vocational school offering a Professional Massage Therapist program. Our dedicated educators are passionate about supporting students on their journey towards reaching their career goals.

Reach out today and request more information to learn more about the Professional Massage Therapist program.

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