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Massage Terms and definitions

Massage Terminology

Active Stretching - Stretching techniques where the therapist and client work together to produce a desired change. Active stretching differs from passive stretching in that the client active participate in moving, gently resisting or engaging muscles as directed by the therapist.

Ayurvedic Healing -. Ayurveda is derived from two words in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India,"Ayus" means life and "Veda" means knowledge it is thus the knowledge of life and longevity. Ayurveda is more than Just Healing it’s a way of life.

Biomechanical DysfunctionThis refers to the abnormal or impaired functioning of the mechanics of the body, specifically the forces exerted by gravity on the muscles and skeletal structure.

Breath Awareness or Breath work - A general term used to describe consciously altering breathing in coordination with your massage. Can be used to affect the diaphragm.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome - A condition caused by compression of the nerves in the carpal tunnel, characterized especially by weakness, pain, and tingling numb sensations in the hand and fingers.

Cranial Sacral TherapyCranial sacral therapy is a holistic healing practice that uses very light touching to balance the cranial sacral system in the body, which includes the bones, nerves, fluids, and connective tissues of the cranium and spinal area. It is very subtle but can have a profound effect.

Cross-Fiber Friction - Friction technique is applied across the "grain" of muscle fibers to create a stretching and broadening effect in muscle, adhesion or connective tissue.  Application of deep transverse friction can reduce adhesions and scar tissue during the healing process, and help promote strong, flexible tissue development.   (Should be used in conjunction with stretching).

Deep Tissue Massage - A technique that releases chronic patterns of tension in the body through slow strokes and deep finger pressure on contracted areas, either following or going across the grains of muscles, tendons and fascia in the direction of the heart.

Direct Pressure - Direct holding of a muscle or area to release tight tissue. This works by pushing deoxygenated blood out of the area making room for new blood full of oxygen and nutrients into the area.

Energy WorkEnergy Work is based upon the belief that changes in the "life force" of the body, including the electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields, affect human health and can promote healing. (This is not a part of Medical Massage )

Fascia - A layer or sheet of connective tissue that connects the various structures and organs of the body. Some fascias are simple "sheets" of connective tissue. Others are complex and multi-layered.

Gait Dysfunction - Abnormal or impaired functioning of walking or running.   A limp is one example. 

Homeopathy - A system that treats a disease by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in healthy persons produce symptoms similar to those of the disease. This works by causing the body to work harder at returning to its normal state.

Injury Rehabilitation - Treatment or treatments designed to facilitate the process of recovery from an injury to as normal a condition as possible.

Massage - A manual soft tissue manipulation, which includes holding, squeezing, compression, causing movement, and/or applying pressure to the body.

Massage Therapy - A profession in which the practitioner applies manual techniques, and may apply adjunctive therapies, with the intention of positively affecting the health and well being of the client.

Medical Massage Therapy - Medical massage is outcome-based massage, primarily the application of specific treatment protocols targeted to the specific problem(s) the patient presents with physician's diagnosis and administered after a thorough assessment/evaluation by the medical massage therapist with specific outcomes being the basis for treatment.

Therapeutic massage increasingly is being prescribed by physicians to complement traditional medical treatment for illness, injury rehabilitation and pain reduction.

Muscle Energy Techniques (MET) - A combination of active, direct techniques that promote muscle relaxation by activating nerve cells embedded in the muscle belly and/or tendon. There are several distinct techniques, which may be called Muscle Energy Techniques including Reciprocal Inhibition (RI), Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR) and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF). Their purpose is to gain motion that is limited by restrictions of neuromuscular structures.

Muscular Imbalances - A lack of balance, often caused by poor posture, improper gait/movement or incorrect training and strengthening

Myofascial Release - A form of bodywork using long stretching strokes that seek to rebalance the body by releasing tension in the fascia/connective tissue. Myofascial Release is a highly specialized stretching technique used by therapists to treat patients with a variety of soft tissue problems. Myofascial release refers to the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia and muscles with the goal of eliminating pain and increasing range of motion.

Neuromuscular - Massage techniques that work with the nervous system to release muscular holding patterns. (NMT) is a form of massage. It is distinguished from other types of massage in that a quasi-static pressure is applied to the skin with the aim of stimulating specific areas of skeletal muscle. Often these areas of muscle are myofascial trigger points.

Orthopedic Massage - A massage modality which focuses on a deformity, disorder, or injury of the musculo-skeletal system.

Post-Isometric Relaxation (PIR)is an active stretching technique where the patient is asked to gently resist a stretch position for and held followed by an exhale upon relaxation. Then the practitioner waits to feel the muscle fully relax before stretching the patient further.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)

A technique, which uses a combination of passive stretching and isometric contractions.  (gentle resistance)  PNF is used to supplement daily stretching and is employed to make quick gains in range of motion to help athletes improve performance.

Reciprocal Inhibition (RI) - Uses the body's antagonist-inhibition reflex to induce relaxation of a "tight" muscle. For example, when the biceps (in this case the agonist) is flexed, a reflexive inhibition of the triceps (here the antagonist) is induced. Thus loss of range of motion in the triceps can be incrementally restored by flexion of the biceps.

ReikiA particular variety of energy medicine, known sometimes called biofield energy healing. Healing by contact healing, distant healing, and therapuetic touch. Note - Almost all clinical trials indicate that distant healing is no better than a placebo according to Wikipedia.

Russian Massage - Russian massage is a system of therapeutic and sports massage developed in the former Soviet Union. It uses a variety of manipulations of the body's soft tissues to achieve benefits, including stress reduction and relief from muscle aches.

Scoliosis - A lateral (side-to-side) curvature of the spine.

Shiatsu - Developed in Japan and incorporating techniques of Japanese traditional massage, acupressure (finger pressure), stretching, and Western massage. Shiatsu involves applying pressure to special points or areas on the body in order to maintain physical and mental well being, treat disease, or alleviate discomfort.  Some refer to it as Acupressure.

Sports Massage - A kind of massage therapy that focuses on muscle systems relevant to sports. It involves different massage approaches while an athlete is in training, during sports activity and after a sport event. Uses compression and stretching techniques.

Strain Counterstrain - This technique works to rebalance the nervous system with the structure of the musculoskeletal system (skeleton and muscles of the body). Strain Counterstrain works to inhibit hyperactivity of the spasm reflex, allowing the muscle to relax by improving oxygenation and eliminating pain. 

Swedish Massage - A system of long strokes, kneading and friction techniques on the more superficial layers of the muscles, combined with active and passive movements of the joints. The four strokes of Swedish massage are effleurage, petrissage, friction and tapotement. Swedish massage is used as a warm up for most other techniques.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders Usually accompanied by symptoms that may include pain or tenderness in the temporomandibular  joint or surrounding muscles, headache, earache, neck, back, or shoulder pain, limited jaw movement, or a clicking or popping sound in the jaw.

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) - The thoracic outlet is an area at the top of the rib cage, between the neck and the chest. Thoracic outlet syndrome is a disorder that causes pain and abnormal nerve sensations in the neck, shoulder, arm, and/or hand. This is often the real cause of tingling and numbness in the wrist and hand but is often called Carpal Tunnel.

Trigger Point - Irritated area in muscle fibers that when compressed elicit pain or a twitching response in local or distal regions. It is a hyperirritable tender spot in an abused muscle that refers pain to other muscles.

Trigger Point Therapy

This method applies concentrated finger pressure, and breath work, to trigger points to break cycles of spasm and pain. 

The list of health benefits from massage just keeps growing.
More massage benefits are found every day.
Massage is shown to be effective by Group Health study!
Even Group Health can't disprove that Massage is effective.
Benefits of Sports Massage
Is it really Fybromyalgia?
Why is Fibromyalgia so hard to diagnosis.
When does massage become "Medical Massage"?
Massage doesn't become medical massage until a specific symptom is treated with a specific set of procedures to bring about a specific outcome until then massage is not "medical massage"!
Cedar River Medical Massage Succesfully treats Cervical trauma, (Whiplash), while using deep tissue techniques.
How to Treat Whiplash Trauma successfully while using Deep-Tissue Techniques.
What to do and not do after an Auto Accident
Ten things to do or not to do after an auto accident, car crash or smash.
Will Health Care Reform hurt the massage industry and massage patients?
Will health care reform hurt the massage industry and massage patients?
A whiplash guide for massage
Whiplash - how and when to treat.
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