We have found that the more our clients understand about the styles of massage and techniques available, the better they are able to understand which modalities will provide the best treatment. Our spa menu descriptions include references to many of these techniques and our Massage Therapists’ Bios also refer to their expertise and chosen specialties.
The use of essential oils (extracted from herbs, flowers, resin, woods, and roots) in body and skin care treatments is known as aromatherapy. Used as a healing technique for thousands of years by the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, essential oils aid in relaxation, improve circulation, and help the healing of wounds. Aromatherapy diffusers are utilized to fill the massage room with the scent of the oils. Specific essential oils are blended by the aromatherapist and added to a carrier oil. Each oil has its own unique characteristics and benefits.
ASHIATSU ORIENTAL BAR THERAPY
This barefoot massage technique uses deep compression effleurage strokes that glide over the body. The resulting movement may help relieve pain resulting from chronic soft-tissue damage. Correct application will provide deep relaxation while stretching chronic shortened muscles of the body. Bars are used above the head for leverage, and lubricant is essential for its application. [This therapy was developed by massage therapist Ruthie Piper Hardee in 1995 as a result of her own scoliosis and disk pain associated with bending over the table to deliver deep-tissue massage.] Correct application of two-footed strokes near the spine creates a “push, pull, pumping” effect on the intervertebral disc space and can relieve irritation on the spinal nerve. No anxiety should result from this application, and client range of comfort is maintained at all times.
An Ayurvedic massage is one part of the traditional detoxification and rejuvenation program of India called panchakarma, in which the entire body is vigorously massaged with large amounts of warm oil and herbs to remove toxins from the system. With the client’s permission, oil is also poured into the ears, between the eyebrows, and at specific energy points, techniques known respectively as karana purana, shirodhara, and marma chikitsa. These treatments have been modified to meet the needs of the West and have been powerful in their effects on the mind and nervous system-calming, balancing, and bringing both a heightened sense of awareness and deep inner peace. The techniques can be done either as stand-alone treatments or in conjunction with the Ayurvedic body massage. The basis for effectively performing all of the various Ayurvedic massage techniques is a thorough understanding of the primordial energies of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth) and of vata, pitta, and kapha the three basic constitutional types (similar to the ancient Greek method of mind/body classification). This knowledge allows the therapist to determine both which Ayurvedic massage techniques to use and also how to customize treatments by selecting the proper oils and herbs and the rate and pressure of massage strokes to maximize the benefits for each individual.
Known also as seated massage, chair massage involves the use of a specially designed massage chair in which the client sits comfortably. The modern chair massage was originally developed David Palmer, but the technique is centuries-old, with some Japanese block prints illustrating people having just emerged from a nearby bath, receiving massage while seated on a low stool. Seated massage includes bodywork and somatic techniques, such as shiatsu, amma, and Swedish massage, provided to the fully clothed client. Vitality therapists provide Chair Massage at the Spa, at your business or your sports event.
Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, noninvasive method of evaluating and enhancing the function of the body through the craniosacral system which includes the sacrum, the spine, and head. Developed by John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, this manual therapy enhances the body’s natural healing processes and has proven effective in treating a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction. The roots of this therapy are in cranial osteopathy, developed by Dr. William G. Sutherland. The craniosacral system consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face, and mouth–which make up the cranium–down to the sacrum or tailbone. Since this system influences the development and function of the brain and spinal cord, any imbalance or dysfunction in the craniosacral system could cause sensory, motor, or neurological disabilities. These problems may include chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system. Craniosacral therapy encourages the body’s natural healing mechanisms to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, and enhance health and resistance to disease. The craniosacral therapy practitioner uses a light touch to assist the natural movement of fluid within the craniosacral system. Therapists generally use only five grams of pressure, roughly the weight of a nickel, to test for restrictions in various parts of the craniosacral system. It’s often possible for the evaluation alone to remove the restriction and allow the system to correct itself.
DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Techniques that utilize deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. These techniques require advanced training and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the practitioner from reaching deeper musculature. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis. It is generally integrated with other massage techniques.
INFANT MASSAGE INSTRUCTION
Our Qualified Instructors teach parents how to properly massage their infants. Infant massage is also utilized in hospital neonatal care units. This specialized form of touch is successful, not only in the critical weight gain of premature infants, but also in creating a strong bond between parent and infant and exposing a young child to the benefits and pleasures of touch.
MANUAL LYMPH DRAINAGE
The strokes applied in manual lymph drainage are intended to stimulate the movement of the lymphatic fluids in order to assist the body in cleansing. This is a gentle, rhythmical technique that cleanses the connective tissue of inflammatory materials and toxins, enhances the activity of the immune system, reduces pain, and lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. The most widely taught and generally accepted form of this technique was created by Dr. Vodder of Austria and requires advanced training and precise movements.
Performing medical massage requires a firm background in pathology and utilizes specific treatments appropriate to working with disease, pain, and recovery from injury. The therapist may work from a physician’s prescription or as an adjunct healer within a hospital or physical therapy setting.
Myofascial release is the three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions and facilitate the emergence of emotional patterns and belief systems that are no longer relevant or are impeding progress. First, an assessment is made by visually analyzing the human frame, followed by the palpation of the tissue texture of various fascial layers. Upon locating an area of fascial tension, gentle pressure is applied in the direction of the restriction. Myofascial release is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches.
Performed by a trained perinatal specialist, many methods of massage and somatic therapies are both effective and safe prenatally and during labor and postpartum periods of women’s pregnancies. Prenatally, specific techniques can reduce pregnancy discomforts and concerns and enhance the physiological and emotional well-being of both mother and fetus. Skilled, appropriate touch facilitates labor, shortening labor times and easing pain and anxiety. In the postpartum period, specialized techniques rebalance structure, physiology, and emotions of the new mother and may help her to bond with and care for her infant. Specialized, advanced training in the anatomy, physiology, complications, precautions, and contraindications is highly recommended, and many practitioners require referrals from physicians prior to therapy.
Sports massage is designed to enhance athletic performance and recovery. There are three contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, and injury treatment. Pre-event massage is delivered at the performance site, usually with the athlete fully clothed. Fast-paced and stimulating, it helps to establish blood flow and to warm up muscles. During the massage, the athlete generally focuses on visualizing the upcoming event. Post-event massage is also delivered on site, through the clothes. The intent here is to calm the nervous system and begin the process of flushing toxins and waste products out of the body. Post-event massage can reduce recovery time, enabling an athlete to resume training much sooner than rest alone would allow. When an athlete sustains an injury, skillful massage therapy can often speed and improve the quality of healing.
One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, are used to manipulate the soft tissues of the body. The disrobed client is covered by a sheet, with only the area being worked on exposed. Therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping movements, with the application of oil, to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury.
Also called nuad bo rarn, Thai massage has been taught and practiced in Thailand for approximately twenty-five hundred years. Although the origins are somewhat vague, credit for Thai massage is given to a famous Indian doctor, Shivago Komarpaj, who was the personal physician of the Buddha and Magadha king. Historically, manipulation was one of four major branches composing traditional Thai ceremonies or magical practices. This is based on the theory the body is made up of seventy-two thousand sen, or energy lines, of which ten hold top priority. Thai massage also involves peripheral stimulating, meaning it acts as an external stimulant to produce specific internal effects. This point serves as the main division between Thai and Western massage. Thai massage is practiced on a firm mat on the floor instead of on a table, instrumental in the effective use of the practitioner’s body weight. Except for the feet, the client remains fully clothed, so draping is not necessary.
TRIGGER POINT MYOTHERAPY
Trigger point myotherapy is a noninvasive therapeutic modality for the relief and control of myofascial pain and dysfunction. The goal of treatment is the client’s recovery from or a significant reduction in myofascial pain. The treatment goal is achieved through a systematized approach. Treatment consists of trigger point compression, myomassage, passive stretching, and a regime of corrective exercises. Success may be measured subjectively by the level of pain reduction experienced by the client and objectively through increased range of motion, strength, endurance, and other measures of improved function. Trigger point myotherapy relies heavily on client-therapist interaction, including verbal and nonverbal elements. The myotherapist encourages the client to be personally responsible for their improvement, with attention to such factors as nutritional intake, stress, proper exercises, mechanical abnormalities, and other physical components. These elements protect the client from delayed diagnosis, delayed treatment, or contraindicated treatment, which are the concerns of first order. Trigger point myotherapy is an integrating approach to myofascial pain and dysfunction.