For this message, I want to talk a bit about the difference between Relaxation and Therapeutic (or Deep Tissue, or Medical) Bodywork. First, I want to state, that Relaxation is, by itself, quite therapeutic. Helping to alleviate stress is a HUGE step in the right direction towards achieving wellbeing. The benefit of touch in and of itself is extremely important. Most people, on some level, want to be touched and can sometimes have a difficult time finding “acceptable” situations to get those needs met in a safe manner. For the purpose of description, however, I will separate Relaxation massage from Therapeutic Bodywork.
Relaxation massage is what most people think of when they hear the word “Massage.” It usually incorporates various strokes from the Swedish style of body work such as effleurage, (Long gliding strokes, usually with lotion or oil) petrissage, (kneading strokes) tapotement, (think karate chops) and compression (pressing the muscles into a hard surface such as the bone underneath.) This style of massage is usually performed with oil or lotion and soft music to encourage a state of deep relaxation. Sometimes Aromatherapy is also used to deepen this relaxed state.
Therapeutic Bodywork (or Deep Tissue or Medical Massage) is all about getting to the cause of pain and alleviating it. This work can be done with draping or in comfortable clothing. It can also, at times, feel deep and intense. It is important to remember, however, that you are the one in charge of the session and must communicate with the therapist regarding level of pain. This work is not about suffering in silence or suffering at all. It is about communication and targeting sore spots. Sometimes muscles get strained, over-tightened, over-lengthened or stuck together. Sometimes parts of the muscle get ischemic (lack of blood flow) and create tender spots or trigger points (which refer pain to other areas) and need to be worked out and loosened. This work can be extremely difficult to do on your own and sometimes a detailed knowledge of anatomy is necessary so you are not stretching already over-lengthened muscles. A qualified bodyworker can really help alleviate pain and suffering to the point of eliminating the need of prescription pain killers in some instances. Another point to consider…deep work is not the same as deep pressure. Some people come in to get a massage and say they want deep tissue work when what they really want is deep pressure. Therapeutic Bodywork can also be very gentle. Myofascial work can feel very light and still be extremely effective at relieving chronic pain. A good bodyworker will listen and respond to the needs of your body in that day. Sometimes lighter work is needed, sometimes a little firmer pressure is needed. Again, the key is good communication between client and therapist.
Here are some things you can do for yourself to assist you in your wellness goals…Get plenty of sleep, drink tons of water, stretch and elevate your heart rate every day.
We at Avalon Holistic Therapies are passionate about the work we do. Check out our website and contact us today to see what we can do to help enhance your state of wellness.
In health and healing,
Ann-Marie Hall, LMT #17372