Massage around the world

25/01/2014 10:35

Source: Tourismembassy

Massage around the world

Massages Around The World

Massages were used as a natural remedy for pains and soreness since the hunting and gathering days of human civilization. It is based on the basic instinct of rubbing the part that hurts, similar to the instinct of drinking for thirst. In ancient times, massages were a powerful healer and there were even people who were believed to have the 'spiritual power' to heal pains. Since then, this knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. Depending on the geographical region in which massage was used, the techniques handed down vary differently.

Today, massage continues to be a powerful healing technique and is practiced extensively around the world. In fact, there are many different massaging techniques available today and the choice of a particular technique depends to a large extent on what a person is looking to get out of a massage session.

Swedish Massage

Swedish massage is a popular massaging technique for relaxing the entire body and to increase the flow of oxygen in the blood. It also helps to remove toxins from the muscles and enhances flexibility. It was developed by Henri Peter Ling, a Swedish professor in 1812 at the University of Stockholm.

In this technique, masseurs use five different strokes and they are effluerage or stroking the muscle in long directions, petrissage where the muscles are grabbed lightly and lifted, friction where the thumbs and fingers are moved in a circular direction to reach different parts of the muscles, tapotement that involves chopping, beating and tapping strokes and vibration in which the fingers are pressed against a specific muscle and the entire area is shaken for a few seconds. The masseur uses the entire hand including the palm area to move through the body doing the different strokes.

Deep Tissue Shiatsu

Deep tissue shiatsu, as the name implies, is the massage to target the deep muscles in the body. For example, the back region alone has five layers of muscles and the Swedish Massage can get to only the first two layers at the most. As a result, the strokes involved are also different. Deep Tissue masseurs use slow strokes with heavy pressure and they use their thumbs, fingers and even elbows to generate this pressure. This particular massage technique requires a lot of effort from the masseur as he or she has to reach the deepest layers with their bare hands.

Craniosacral Massage

Craniosacral massage focuses on the brain and spinal column of the body. Unlike other types of massage, this is gentle with minimal pressure on the muscles. In this kind of massage, the bones, membranes, muscles and fluids present in the head and spinal regions are relaxed to relieve tension and pain. It also helps to restore the original position of bones that were disturbed in a chronic injury. It is the right kind of massage for those suffering from migraines and sleep-related disorders as well. The person who is doing this massage should be knowledgeable about the cranial and spinal muscles because one wrong move can even incapacitate the customer.

Hot Stone Massage

In hot stone massage, the masseur places heated, smooth and flat basalt stones on certain key points on the body. These stones are heated to a certain temperature in electrical heating devices before they are placed on the body. The idea behind this technique is that the heat from the stones reach the deepest layers of a muscle to relax it. This technique is similar to deep pressure massage, minus the heavy pressure applied by the masseurs. This massage helps to relieve pain associated with fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel and other muscle-related chronic conditions. It is also well-suited for people who want to reduce muscle spasms, relieve stress, improve blood and oxygen circulation, calm the nervous system and increase flexibility in joints.

Thai Massage

Thai massage is believed to be one of the oldest massage techniques used today. Developed by Jivaka Kumar Baccha, Buddha's physician, the Thai massage originated in India and spread to other Eastern countries. Even today, it is an integral part of Ayurveda and traditional Thai and Chinese medicine.

A unique aspect of this massage is that it is rigorous as opposed to the relaxing feel of the other techniques. At the end of it, a person feels energetic and ready to take on the world! Therefore, the techniques used in Thai massage are also different. The masseur uses hands, elbows, feet and even knees to help a person move through different yoga-like positions and this is why, many people confuse this kind of massage with yoga. Along with the yoga-like poses, comes acupressure and joint mobilization techniques that are used to relieve pain in specific muscles.

Due to the vigorous nature of this massage, it is not ideal for anyone who is pregnant, has an injury, open sore, is prone to blood clots and has undergone surgery or chemotherapy.

Reflexology Massage

Reflexology massage was developed in China along with acupuncture, so the basic principles of the Eastern religions is evident in this massage. Taoism, an ancient religion of China, believes that cosmic vibrations filter into everything and energizes the world. Akin to this principle, there are reflex areas in the feet that correspond to specific organs and glands in the body. Therefore, the pressure applied on these reflex areas, in turn, will have a positive impact on the specific organ as well. Besides applying pressure, the masseur will perform a variety of stretches that are helpful for the calf, heel and foot areas. Reflexology massage is applied to the feet and is particularly helpful for those suffering from plantar fascitis and ankle injuries.

The masseurs who offer these different massaging techniques are experts in their field. It takes a lot of strength, stamina and endurance to apply the right amounts of pressure for an hour. Moreover, masseurs need to know the proper alignment of muscles to ensure that clients do not get injured during a massage session. Therefore, the masseur is the king or queen in a massage session and this is why, it is important to choose the right person. Travelers can check with locals or can scour the Internet for the right massage centers as this will make a difference in the quality of massage. Moreover, masseurs in some countries are well-known for a particular technique, so it helps to know what technique is best in each country.

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