What is massage therapy?
Massage therapy is among the most ancient methods of healing known. There are hundreds of forms of massage around the world.
• The most common massage therapy method involves using the hands to massage, knead, or work the muscles, fascia, and connective tissue in the body (soft tissue manipulation).
• The objective is to remove tension and improve blood and nerve supply, flexibility, and range of motion.
• The aim is to achieve, increase, or maintain health and wellness.
Forms frequently employed at The Stone Institute are deep tissue, reflexology, relaxation, shiatsu, sports, therapeutic/medical. Services provides descriptions and prices.
What is energy work?
Energy work deals with the body’s bioelectrical field. Many types of energy work are anatomically and scientifically based. Scientific studies in hospitals attest to the effectiveness of dominant forms of energy work, including shiatsu and healing touch. Some practitioners classify reflexology as a form of energy work. Aspects of reflexology affect the bioelectrical field of the receiver (client), as well as producing clearly identified anatomical and physiological effects. (To learn more, read Therapeutic Reflexology, Chapter 2.)
What is reflexology?
Reflexology is a form of reflexive therapy. All reflexive therapies – such as reflexology, zone therapy, auriculotherapy, iridology, sclerology – are distinct and separate from massage therapy. They are not a form of massage therapy. Foot and hand reflexology are popular forms of reflexive therapies. Auriculotherapy (pressure applied to acupressure points in the ears) is another growing reflexive therapy discipline. (To learn more, read Therapeutic Reflexology, Chapters 3 and 4.)
Reflexology training, intent, and techniques differ from massage therapy training, intent, and techniques – and are not to be confused with foot massage.
I’ve had surgery. How long do I need to wait before massage? Before reflexology?
Your doctor determines when to have massage, reflexology, and other forms of bodywork.
Some hospitals initiate foot reflexology immediately following surgery to reduce post-operative pain; and reduce the requirement and quantity of painkilling drugs. To learn more, read Therapeutic Reflexology, p. 139.
How can massage help me?
The benefits of massage by medical doctors and research is undisputed. To learn more, visit http://www.massagetherapyfoundation.org. A summary follows:
Benefits of Massage
1. Assists venous blood flow (circulatory system)
2. Promotes lymphatic flow (circulatory system)
3. Reduces certain types of edema (circulatory system)
4. Provides gentle stretching of tissue (integumentary, skeletal, muscular)
5. Relieves subcutaneous scar tissue (i.e., adhesions) (integumentary, skeletal, muscular)
Physiological Effects of Massage on the Circulatory System
(a) Stimulates circulation of blood through the muscles by an increase of three times faster than normal
(b) Decreases the workload of the heart
(c) Lowers blood pressure by assisting venous flow
(d) Increases red blood cell production
(e) Increases supply of oxygen and nutrients to the skin, organs, glands, and brain
(f) Reduces edema when present
(g) Increases the elimination of waste
2. Lymphatic System
(a) Increases circulation of the blood increasing the number of white blood cells in circulation
(b) Increases circulation of lymph, which stimulates the immune system by circulating white blood cells
(c) Massage can increase the number of white blood cells by as much as 85%
(d) Empathetic touch enhances the immune system overall
Physiological Effects of Massage on the Muscular System
1. Increases tone
2. Increases flexibility
3. Prevents atrophy resulting from inactivity
4. Relieves fatigue from overexertion
5. Promotes rapid disposal of metabolic wastes
6. Replenishs nutritive elements
7. Reduces spasm, tension
8. Interrupts the tension-spasm-pain cycle
Physiological Effects of Massage on the Integumentary System (skin, hair, nails)
1. Helps exfoliate skin, which assists its function as the largest organ of elimination and respiration
2. Improves suppleness (smoother, finer, and better nourished)
3. Lessens over-sensitivity
4. Enhances the activity of sweat and oil glands
5. Improves the tropic state of the skin
Psychological Effects of Massage
“Massage is recognized as an effective tool for anxiety reduction by anyone who has ever received one . . . . Increasing attention is being given to this potential application of massage therapy, particularly for cancer patients, psychiatric patients, the mentally handicapped, and the elderly.” Dr. Yates, Physicians Guide to Therapeutic Massage
How can reflexology help me?
Reflexology works the reflexes of the feet and hands. Relaxing and stretching techniques thoroughly work the muscles, ligaments and tendons improving flexibility and range of motion. Working the reflexes is known to:
• Relax unhealthy tension in target muscles, tissue, and other parts of the body
• Improve blood and nerve supply
• Normalize body functions
• Help the body achieve homeostasis (balanced function)
People say that tension and pain melts away leaving them feeling refreshed and relaxed.
“My feet felt so tired before I came. Now they are a light as a feather.”
“My feet haven’t felt this good in years.”
“My reflexology treatments keep me pain-free.”
“I didn’t know I could feel so good and relaxed.”
What is a massage or reflexology session like? What do I wear? What do I do afterwards?
Allow extra time for your first visit. You will complete a client information form. This provides basic health information to discuss your bodywork needs.
Dress comfortably. Be prepared to change clothing based on the bodywork selected.
• Foot reflexology – come prepared to slip off shoes and socks. We work to the knee.
• Hand reflexology – we work bare hands up to the elbow.
• Sports, athletic, or stretching massage – bring gym shorts, if possible.
• Relaxing, therapeutic, deep tissue – most people prefer to undress, although you may choose to retain undergarments. You will have privacy to change. You are covered except for the area being massaged (back, leg, arm, etc.).
I’m ticklish and I don’t want anyone to touch my feet.
Reflexology is not foot massage. The therapist uses specific techniques using the fingers and hands (and sometimes tools) to apply firm pressure to stretch the feet and work the reflexes in the feet. We have worked with people claiming to be ticklish and skeptical before the treatment. Most find it extremely relaxing and beneficial.
What are essential oils? What is aromatherapy? Does it work?
Essential oils are the aromatic oils distilled from plants. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy (“therapy using aroma or scent”). The practice of aromatherapy is at least 5,000 years old with time-honored traditions in medical and cosmetic applications in China, Egypt, Indian, and Persia. Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of certain essential oils for relaxation, inflammation, and pain relief.
This is how it works: Aroma or scent is comprised of airborne particles that plants and other materials emit. We inhale these particles into the nose (olfactory system) where the olfactory nerves process the odors in the brain. As such, pure and natural scents (such as a blossom) or an essential oil extracted from that blossom affect the body and mind in predictable ways. The mints (peppermint and spearmint) are stimulating. Lavender is calming. And so forth.
In our country, we are most familiar with the cosmetic applications, and the majority of products employ artificial chemicals to emulate scents. These lack the specific and complex constituents that give the scent its therapeutic effect.
We use 100% natural and pure essential oils. Most are certified organic. No artificial ingredients. These are mixed into the massage oils and lotions. Diffusion disperses the aroma into the air.
To learn more, read Therapeutic Reflexology, Appendix D (pp. A-15 to A-21). This appendix includes answers to 15 common questions about essential oils, plus three quick-at-a-glance tables: Aromatic Oil Yields from Plants, Essential Oil Substitutions, and Quick Reference to Common Essential Oils.
What if I am allergic to oils and fragrances?
Tell us and products will not be used or suitable substitutions made. Peanut oil, for example, is not used with people allergic to peanuts. Many people allergic to the artificial chemical scents have no adverse reaction to the natural essential oils.
What is the value of natural and organic oils and lotions?
The skin is the largest organ of the body. Whatever is placed on the skin is absorbed into the body. We like to think of it this way: Only place on your skin what you are willing to eat.
We use the purest ingredients available in aromatherapy and to create our massage oils, lotions and blends. We diligently search the market to locate 100% organic products and use these whenever possible. Our products contain 100% natural and pure essential oils, organic and non-hydrogenated oils, and wholesome ingredients that are rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients to nourish the skin.
Should I drink lots of water following a bodywork session?
Bodywork, including reflexology and massage therapy, improves all metabolic functions. Water flushes the body to speed elimination of toxins, lactic acid, and other substances. Sometimes doctors advise patients with medical issues (kidney conditions, for example) to control water intake. Health authorities encourage healthy people to drink more water, especially following exercise and bodywork. See Recipes for an idea of water quantities. To learn more, read Therapeutic Reflexology, p. 135.
I’ve read about the benefits of a foot soak or bath following reflexology and massage. Are details available?
Epsom salt and apple cider vinegar provide an easy, effective, and inexpensive foot and body soak. As a home remedy, each has stood the test of time.