Touch as a means to healing is one of those few things that we all agree on. If you look to western civilization, you will find that you have laying on of hands as part of the healing ministry in Christianity. When your attention moves to the Romans and the Greeks you will find the same thing in their spas. Massage is an important part of restoring health. Far eastern Civilization certainly is no exception to this rule. Massage is a critical element of health in China, Japan and India. Almost all indigenous people from around the globe use massage as part of their health enhancement programs. We have been told in extensive medical studies that children who are lovingly touched and nurtured thrive at a whole different level than those in some third world orphanages who are rarely touched. Let’s not forget our own common sense. What is natural when you fall and hurt yourself? Don’t you tend to want to rub whatever you hurt?
This is why for the last 22 years as I have embarked on my own journey toward maximum health and fitness, massage therapy has been a critical element in my own personal programs as well as the programs that I provide for the people that I am privileged to serve! Below I will give you some pertinent information on different massage therapy methods and what my personal experience is with their benefit. We will also have information on self-massage devices that you can employ when properly coached, if you are too far away to avail our onsite services.
If you need more information you can always contact us. firstname.lastname@example.org
Step #1 – Get Checked Out By Your Doctor
Massage Therapy is generally an extremely safe and effective method of improving health but even the safest health and fitness systems can be contraindicated for certain health conditions. Health conditions that we unfortunately can’t see. So we strongly encourage you to see your primary medical doctor before beginning any fitness program including any massage therapy program. Your primary medical doctor should be somebody who is located close by. This health professional should be available to you in case of a health emergency and be someone that you look to as the quarterback of your health and fitness team. We encourage everyone to develop this important relationship first not because these type of health programs are dangerous put to protect against the unknown in those rare cases that they apply. I’ve seen those rare cases and in many cases they were completely unexpected. The person was only protected by proper procedures!
Step #2 – Decide What Type of Massage Therapy Is For You
Onsite vs. Home Training – Your first decision is to decide whether you prefer onsite or home training. If you live quite a distance away from our facility in Hazleton, Pa., then you will need to work with us from a distance you will be referred to an affiliated site that sells excellent self-massage devices and videos that allow you to get many of these same results at home. Now if you are able to get in for some onsite massage, you will soon find that while the former process is good and will eventually move you toward your goals. There is no substitute for a hands on massage by a trained professional with many years of experience. Often you can employ a combination of both strategies to reach your personal goals!
3 Types of Massage Therapy
There are many different kinds of massage therapy and I would like to tell you right now that this explanation is a gross simplification. This simplification serves us for our purposes today, so bear with me as I proceed.
I mention reflexology first because it is easily the least invasive of all touch therapies. There are very few if any contraindications to this fabulous, time tested method. In other words almost everyone can seek this method from a trained professional 100% safely. When we are dealing with complex conditions that have not responded well to conventional therapy (like we often do) reflexology is a wonderful first step to begin to help the individual to find balance. As they grow stronger and healthier, we will then often be able to employ other massage, movement and even nutritional modalities to optimize this person’s health.
We began our talk on reflexology by praising it’s safety. This is in no way to take away from it’s effectiveness. Plenty of people have had solid and long standing results from using reflexology alone. We are just describing why we find it to be indispensable in our arsenal. We consider it to be part of our first aid program of methods known for their safety as well as being extremely suitable to use when a person is in the initial or acute stages of a crisis. Of course, this goes hand in hand with them first seeing their doctor!
Reflexology is the science which deals with the principle that there are reflex areas in the feet and hands which correspond to all of the glands, organs and parts of the body. Stimulating these reflexes properly can help by reducing stress and tension in these areas. 75% of all health challenges have been found to have a stress component!
- Mechanical or Deep Tissue Massage
There are many methods in this category but they all have this in common. they are focused on releasing excess tension in the soft tissues of the body in such a way as to bring about balanced and effecient body mechanics as the body opposes gravity. This eliminates perhaps the greatest reason for the body to maintain hyper-tone and that is because of inefficient posture. This brings me to one of the foundational modalities that we employ at Pastorella Health & Fitness. I believe it to be the Grand father of most similar modalities in this category.
- Neuromuscular Massage Therapy (The St. John Method)
This method is more modernly known as Integrative Neurosomatic Therapy. This is Paul St. John’s current work and not to take anything away from the other fine therapists in this field but in my opinion Paul’s the man! No one has put more of their life into this work. The man is driven to say the least and also driven to serve. Neuromuscular Therapy is a comprehensive program of soft tissue manipulation designed to bring about a balnce between the musculoskeletal and the nervous systems. It seeks to improve the following:
- Postural Distortion – Like all mechanical massage systems it comprehensively addresses inefficient posture.
- Dysfunctional Biomechanics – NMT seeks to balance and improve the effeciency of the person’s walking gait.
- Ischemia – ischemia are areas of soft tissue tension that cause a slow down of circulation to those tissues causing them to become tender, sore and restricted. The beginning of muscular pain.
- Nerve Entrapment/ Compression – NMT seeks to relieve areas of entrapment when tight muscles impinge nerves as well as when bones or osseous structures compress nerve roots. many of these impingements are caused by excess muscular tension.
- Trigger Points – When an area of ischemia has referred sensations such as pain, numbness, tingling etc. to other areas of the body.
5 Stages of Rehabilitation
- Restore Correct Biomechanics – Simply put if a person walks around with their right arm swinging in a dysfunctional, tense pattern 10,000 times per day, you aren’t going to work on it once per week and win. You must retrain how they are moving so that they don’t keep re-facilitating the same pattern. See Tai-Chi Program.
- Relieve Ischemia – Before you begin stretching someone you should relieve the areas of hypertonicity. We use massage and Tai-Chi to accomplish this.
- Restore Flexibility – Proper stretching to restore full Range of Motion.
- Restore Strength – Proper functional strength training to restore the strength and functional integrity to these weakened areas.
- Restore Endurance – Simply put, any muscle that has been in pain will not be used to much, so it loses its conditioning. Proper conditioning (See Our Personal Training Program) should be accomplished before any individual returns to full activity.
It is our experience that these stages should be initiated in order. Violating this step by step process often causes people to regress and become disheartened. They give up and become the walking wounded with a diminished if not destroyed life. This is why I believe that this is my vocation. I hate to see this and I don’t believe in giving up on someone. So as long as they fight on and maintain a positive attitude, I will do my best to help them.
Oriental or Energy Modalities
This is another big category. It covers everything from Reiki where you never touch the person and affect them energetically (I personally am cautious with these more subtle modalities) to time tested methods very similar to acupuncture such as AMMA or Shiatsu (Japanese finger Pressure). All of these methods have in common the desire to balance and regulate the body’s Chi or vital life force. This bioelectric force inside the human body has been universally recognized by most ancient civilizations as part of natural law. Unfortunately, it often gets rapped up in eastern mysticism and frankly some irrational beliefs. That being said, I really don’t believe that it could be recognized by such a wide variety of geographically separated people without it truly existing in one form or another. It should also be said that this type of work has stood the test of time and done more good than many other health modalities.
Shiatsu (Japanese Finger Pressure)
Shiatsu is an ancient method of Holistic Health that seeks to analyze the human being through three methods. These methods are sometimes called the four Shin
- Bo Shin – This is literally “to see” The art of receiving visual observations.
- Bun-Shin – “To Listen” this is the art of interpreting auditory feedback from the individual.
- Mon –Shin – “To interrogate. the art of inteligently questioning someone to find imbalances according to natural law.
- Setsu –Shin – “To Touch” This is the subtle art of palpating according to the principles of oriental medicine. This goes hand in hand with our next step.
- Hara Diagnosis – Palpating the Hara or abdominal cavity Based on the 5 Elements and the principles of Oriental diagnosis.
- Kyo- Jutsu points – This principle is palpating the Hara and all of the meridians of the body to find areas that are Kyo or low energy where it feels like the point is hollow and just lets you fall in or Jutsu (too much energy) where the point will feel like it resists you or is hard. The goal is to use this technique to balance the soft tissues of the body and the bio energetics according to these principles.
Shiatsu was my original training along with the Okinawan Martial arts. It is time tested and a very complete method of therapy. I will employ this art if i see that the person may need to bolster their overall vitality. It is a funny thing though, once you begin to see the human being according to these principles, they will provide more information for you in any interaction that you have.