More About Modalities:
You might be asking:
Why so many types of massage?
What are the differences and uses for these
Everybody and every Body are unique; every massage technique is as well. In order to best serve your express individual needs as a person--body, mind and spirit--various techniques of muscular and energetic manipulation are utilized in specific, therapeutic, scientific and intuitive ways.
Below are descriptions of each massage technique and modality that Gabrielle can and may use during a bodywork session with you, as well as, what conditions are benefited by these modalities.
Swedish Massage: Consisting of various forms of hand contact and paired with either a massage oil or lotion, Swedish Massage is an umbrella modality. A practitioner will often use effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibration--friction or rocking--during a typical relaxing Swedish Massage.
Effleurage is a long massage stroke that utilizes the entire surface of the hand(s). It is often used to make initial contact with a client during treatment. It is also a soothing and slow way to apply the oil or lotion lubricant to a body area, therefore effleurage is responsible for overall revitalization of the skin's moisture reserves. Effleurage warms soft tissue and prepares the nervous system for deeper and more specific bodywork.
Petrissage is a form of kneading or lifting used to pull and soften muscles and their connective tissue or fascia. It pulls blood to the specific area being kneaded and stretches muscles and fascia.
Tapotement is "tapping", either with light fists or the sides of the hands--like a karate chop. It is used to draw fresh blood to stressed muscles and to fatigue those muscles until they relax.
Vibrationcan be Friction or Rocking as described below.
Friction is quick shaking movements done most often with fingers, knuckles or a massage tool. Friction is applied to stiff areas of muscle tissue (knots) circularly or perpendicular to the muscle's grain. This rapid action on tissue breaks up adhesions and facilitates relaxation and blood flow.
Rocking is a form of vibration that jostles larger and more non-specific areas of the body. Think of the way that the parents of a new baby gently shake, bounce or sway the infant to calm the child. Rocking relaxes the body through such nurturing movement and allows unhealthy postural patterns in the muscle groups to "reboot".
Specific and Deep Tissue: Techniques used to release adhesions and disburse toxins from sore areas in the body. Specific and Deep Tissue massage can include the use of slow deep forms of effleurage strokes in short distances. Fingers, elbows or tools can also be used to perform trigger point therapy.
Myofascial Release can also be categorized under Specific and Deep Tissue bodywork.
Trigger Point Therapy: A type of Specific and Deep Tissue massage that uses stillness and pressure on a fixed point along the body of the muscle to essentially pin down the muscle until it relaxes. Pressure is applied to the point, which can often, but
not always, be sore or painful. Muscles don't think. But when they are in danger of acquiring an injury from overuse or fatigue, then they will lock parts of their muscle fibers into place, creating what we call knots in the muscle. In order for the muscle to maintain this protective grip, it sends and receives messages from the brain, kind of
like a nervous system S.O.S. "Mayday, mayday, danger, send help!" The pressure (called ischemic pressure) that is applied to these points in need lets the muscle and the brain know that help has arrived. During trigger point therapy, the muscle is held still for anywhere from 10 - 90 seconds and sometimes up to three times in a row before the muscle will relax. But after, movement and comfort in that area of the body is restored. And oftenchronic pain that was felt in that area or that was being
relayed to other neighboring muscles will cease.
Myofascial Release: A dry massage technique in which the skin, muscles and the protective sheath around muscles--the fascia--are stretched and pulled to release adhesions, relieve pain and improve postural distortions. Myofascial work can feel like gentle pulling or like an "indian burn". Myofascial release helps realign muscles after injuries that have left body parts immobilized for healing--broken bones in casts, surgical sites. This technique can also help to break up scar tissue.
Elder Massage: Not actually a modality, but more a collection of massage skills, as well as, an awareness of the special needs of older populations based on mobility, skin health, and chronic or acute medical conditions. Elder Massage may be offered in a setting and with tools and techniques that are best suited to the individual, whether in hospital, home, long-term care or hospice.
Prenatal, Birthing and Postpartum Massage: Massage is highly advantageous for expecting mothers, women giving birth, or those recovering from the birthing process. Gentle Swedish Massage, special props to keep moms comfortable and a knowledge of common discomforts and conditions with pregnancy are used to create a unique treatment for each woman (and often the fetus) in order to prepare the body for birth or to support healing. Women with low back pain, swollen legs, fatigue and shoulder pain can benefit from this nurturing work. So can any woman learning to love her new and changing body as it grows to meet her baby's needs and as it heals after her new bundle of joy and activity has been born.
Medical: A type of massage used to address specific injuries or ailments that have been diagnosed and documented by medical professionals. Medical massage uses the usual bodywork techniques, but also adheres to compulsory documentation of the pre and post treatment observations in order to work in collaboration with other members of the patient's medical team. Medical massage is often performed in a hospital or other medical setting, including outpatient rehabilitation and therapy clinics or chiropractic offices. Medical massage has been used to treat rotator cuff injuries,
carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, migraines, pregnancy complaints, etc.
Sports Massage: Massage performed as a complimentary treatment for athletes--professional and amateur. Sports massage can be used to warm up (pre-treatment) or to cool down (post-treatment) an athlete to prevent injury or to treat injury in conjunction with other members of a sport team's medical staff--doctors, trainers, physical therapists, etc. This type of massage integrates various kinds of stretches into the bodywork treatments.
Lymphatic Drainage: A dry technique, performed on the superficial and also deep areas of the body where lymphatic fluid is processed and stored. Lymph carries waste products and cells vital to a person's immune system. Lymphatic massage helps to flush out this waste and excess fluid, allowing healing and diminishing swelling in limbs as well. Often after surgeries to remove cancerous growths, lymphatic massage helps to alleviate fluids that become trapped and stagnant near the surgical site. Lymphatic massage can be performed with fingertips, palms of the hand or often with gently abrasive brushes or loofahs to push liquid into circulation to be processed out of the body. The practitioner gently brushes--with hands or tools--the lymph towards the center of the body: toes to belly, fingers to armpits, head to neck. It feels like feathers and can tickle or tingle. Sometimes the body will release some of the lymph to the surface of the skin, during this work, in the form of sticky clear to yellowish moisture.
Craniosacral: A still type of bodywork that focuses on bodily changes by affecting the movements of bones and muscles through the electromagnetic currents of the body, specifically in the spinal column and head. The practitioner's hands are held on specific sites of the body in order to release muscle tension and softly align and lengthen jammed joints. This is a very calming technique and can be incorporated into any massage treatment or given as a complete treatment. It is performed with the client clothed, if it is a separate treatment. Craniosacral is used often to treat tempromandibular joint dysfunction (TMJD), migraines, and acute injuries such as whiplash.
Shiatsu: A Japanese technique of "finger pressure" used as a form of massage and energy work combined. It is based on the idea that the body has channels of energy or meridians that correspond to each organ and that when out of balance cause disease. Shiatsu is performed on clothed clients, usually on a thick mat on the floor. Fingers and palms are used to press on specific points on the body, along the meridians in order to increase or release energy as needed. Shiatsu can also be incorporated into other massage treatments.
Thai: Thai Yoga Bodywork is an oriental energy tradition that combines energetic line-work with yoga-like stretches to tone joints, release energetic blockages and increase muscle mobility, lymphatic and cardiovascular health. In this style of bodywork, the treatment is practiced on the floor on a thick cotton mat and the client is clothed in comfortable attire to promote easy movement by the practitioner. Repetitive palming and finger pressure is applied to the receiver in tandem with 360 degree range of motion. This style of bodywork is very effective in communicating to the client where areas of stiffness or weakness may reside. The rhythmic element of the treatment sets a speed and tone like music and allows the recipient to sink deeply into a rag doll-like state of relaxation as arms, legs, neck, hands, feet and back are moved and stretched within comfortable limits.
In addition to offering full Thai Massage Treatments, I also incorporate many of the benefits of Thai Massage into my traditional table routines, based on the client's needs in the moment and what techniques they respond to most effectively.
Hot/Cold Stones: Stone massages are practiced with basalt or lava stones that have been tumbled either naturally or in lapidary machines to create smoothness in the rock. Extra oil is used to create a slick surface, so no friction is felt during the treatment. In hot stone massage, the stones are heated in hot water between 110 - 150 degrees to the client's tolerance. Hot stones are then held in the practitioner's hands and rolled and flipped quickly along the client's body. The moist heat quickly penetrates muscle tissue to soften and relax it. Hot stones work great for relaxation or to suffuse injured areas with fresh blood and warmth for healing. Cold stones are often made of marble and are prepared by chilling them in ice or a freezer. They can be used for sports related hot and cold therapies for injuries. They are also excellent to use for relieving pain associated with headaches and migraines.
In my practice specifically, I use Himalayan Salt Crystals as hot stones. These stones not only seep therapeutic heat into the client, but also transfer trace essential minerals to the skin and muscles through the oil. I also use semi-precious stones, such as moonstone and labradorite to instill certain intentions into a treatment.
Aromatherapy: The use of essential plant oils to promote and support healing, relaxation, and rejuvenation of energy. Specific oils have properties and chemical compositions that benefit the human body during illness and times of stress. For example, Thyme has antibacterial uses. Lavender promotes sleep and relaxation. Tea Tree reduces skin inflammation and fungus. Eucalyptus clears clogged sinus passages and keeps flying insects at bay.
Hydrotherapy: The use of water, often coupled with herbs and other tools, to promote healing, detoxification and stress relief. Hydrotherapy can be used in a hot or cold capacity depending on the desired outcome and the health of the patient. Hot compresses can be placed on sprained limbs. Hot foot baths can be used to help flush out chest colds.