ARTICLES  ABOUT  MASSAGE
The following is a summary of an article written for the Daily Herald on 12 October 2012 by Dr Patrick Massey.
Massage and Arthritis
The topic of the article is whether an ancient therapy like massage can reduce arthritic pain better than orthodox medical care. According to a recent medical study, massage significantly reduced pain and loss of function in arthritic patients compared with medical care.
Massage is one of the most commonly used non-traditional therapies today.
As we live longer, our chance of contracting osteoarthritis increases. As well as that, obesity, sedentary lifestyles and chronic inflammation are contributory factors.
Conventional medicine for osteoarthritis includes anti-inflammatories, physical therapy, rest, heat, ice and moderate activity. Anti-inflammatory medications can have significant side effects.
Compared with that, massage is safe, when given by a fully qualifies therapist.
Research on Massage and Neck Pain
A new research shows that massage can relieve neck pain if given 2-3 times a week, for an hour each time, by a professional therapist.
The research was conducted by Karen Sherman, senior scientific investigator at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. This study is published in the March/April 2014 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.
Orthodox medicine offers anti-inflammatories, which often do not relieve the pain sufficiently. So people look for other possibilities.
On a previous study Karen found out that the benefits of massage were evident after four weeks of treatment. So this time, the study was conducted over that length of time. 228 men and women, aged 20 to 64 participated. They were assigned to one of three groups. One group did not receive any massage. One group received massage for 30 minutes 2-3 times weekly and one group received massage for one hour 2-3 times weekly. Assessment was conducted a week after the end of the study.
The result showed that receiving massage for one hour 3 times weekly for four weeks gained most benefits. Furthermore, it was pointed out that the massage must be given by a professional therapist. Incorrect massage could potentially cause muscle tightening and spasm.
The following are notes I have written for my massage students.
Contra Indications to Massage
Do not massage at all in the case of: Contagious illness (e.g., flu) or fever, or if the GP does not give permission.
Avoid massaging the specific body area in the case of: Inflamed body parts, recently broken bones, recent operations, new scar tissue, contagious skin disorders like athletes foot, warts, shingles, cold sores, severe eczema or psoriasis (only if the skin is broken and weepy), the first 6 weeks of pregnancy (avoid the abdomen), during menstruation (again avoid the abdomen), unidentified lumps, bumps and moles and open cuts (cover open cuts with a plaster to prevent cross contamination or the risk of HIV), thrombosis, phlebitis (inflammation of the wall of a vein).
Massage the affected area gently (with no pressure) in the case of:
Bone disorders (e.g., slipped disc, and arthritis), varicose veins (gentle soft light caress up towards the heart).
If your client has extremely tight muscles, you need to approach him or her more gently. Start more softly and gradually increase the pressure. Do not work beyond your client's tolerance to pain.
Ask for GPs permission to massage in the case of heart disease, cancer or, if your client suffers from any other serious condition.
Benefits of Massage
Massage benefits all the body systems. It reduces anxiety, stress, insomnia, back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, relaxes tight muscles, and promotes comfort and sound sleep. It stimulates the circulation, helps detoxification, calms the nerves, relaxes muscles, stimulates digestion, improves the skin, and eases aches and pains.
It was found that massage leads to a significant reduction in health complaints.
Psychologically, massage is nurturing, through the quality of touch and the feeling of being cared for. Massage improves body awareness, wellbeing and helps to prevent illness.
Quality of Massage
Massage can be meditative and intuitive, needs to be flowing, rhythmical and sensitive (to be able to respond to the needs of the client). The therapist needs to be relaxed, grounded and self-aware.
If your partner has tight muscles or back ache or shoulder pain then the massage needs to be deeper and more functional.
If your partner suffers from anxiety, stress, insomnia or just want to relax, then the massage needs to be slow and sedative.
Massage and Lactic Acid
Lactic acid is a chemical structure made out of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen in a chain-like form, found in tight muscles. It is also known as milk acid. The related substance lactate is produced in the body during a chemical reaction, but lactic acid doesnt form under such simple conditions. However, the question remains, where does lactic acid come from?
Lactic acid is produced as a result of hard work by the muscles. When your body is working hard, the muscles tighten up, and the body produces high levels of lactate in the tight muscles. When youre running or sprinting, your body produces so much lactate that it cant remove it from the tight muscles quickly enough.
However, when the lactate levels get too high, a chemical reaction occurs with other chemicals in the body, creating lactic acid. What you should know is that it is not the rise in lactate levels that leads to that burning feeling in your muscles, but rather it seems that it is the reaction that forms lactic acid that is the cause of the pain. But some scientists are still debating about the source of the pain.
Once the lactic acid is formed in the muscle, the muscle is tight from overwork, circulation is blocked and "knots" are formed. They cause discomfort and pain.
The best solution for this pain from the formation of lactic acid is massage. It encourages blood circulation through the muscles. The circulation helps to push the lactic acid and remove it from the body, thus easing pain.
Massage and Varicose veins
What are varicose veins?
They look bluish, protruding, thick, bulbous, distended superficial veins, usually in the legs. They can be the result of standing for long hours, or hereditary.
Veins are basically tubes through which the blood flows to the heart. The blood is pumped from the veins to the heart by means of pressure from the heart and muscles surrounding the veins. The latter contract to exert pressure on the veins so that the blood is pushed towards the heart. Inside the veins there are valves that allow blood to flow towards the heart. If the blood attempts to flow backwards, the valves close and the blood cannot pass.
However, extensive pressure due to prolonged standing can cause the veins to enlarge and stretch to the point that the valves become incompetent. The weight of the blood and gravity cause the blood to flow backwards, and the valves are then unable to stop this flow.
For this reason, when giving massage, you should either avoid areas of varicose veins, or just massage with a gentle caress (no pressure) upwards towards the heart. This encourages blood flow towards the heart (opposite to gravity).
If in doubt, don't.
Relaxing massage for stress, anxiety and insomnia
When giving massage to someone who suffers from stress, anxiety or insomnia, it is best to create a pleasant calm atmosphere that will invite relaxation. Have low lights, a candle, essential oil such as lavender in the oil burner, soft gentle music and peaceful environment.
Work slowly and gently over the head, shoulders and back, releasing tension in the shoulders if you find some, legs. Pay particular attention to the feet, they help release tension, stress and anxiety. Continue working on the face and arms.
You may find that your client has fallen asleep and that is good. It means that you have succeeded in relaxing him or her.
You may find that this person has tight muscles resulting from stress and anxiety. Some work on the muscles to relax them is desirable.
Anatomy of the arm and hand for Massage
The muscles of the arm are used a great deal in our daily activities and therefore are in need of massage. The muscles of the upper arm bend the elbow and bring the hand to the front of the body (for example, during eating). The forearm contains the muscles that support movement of the wrist and help gripping with the hand. The palm contains the muscles that help gripping with the fingers.
When massaging the arm, work upwards towards the heart to assist the return of blood to the heart and to avoid damaging the veins (the valves inside them).
Over the shoulder joint, we have the Deltoid muscle which supports movement of the arm. Below are the biceps (front of upper arm) and triceps (back). These also support the arms movements and are used in weight training, which result in tight muscles. The muscles of the forearm are concerned with movement of the wrist, thumb and fingers, opening or closing the hand.
The hand consists of bones, tendons and muscles between the bones, which help to spread and bring together the fingers. The fleshy part of the palm likes firm massage as a hard working part of our body. The back of the hand is less fleshy and will benefit from a more gentle massage.
Preparations for Giving Massage
Warm up the room for comfort.
Soft quiet music, dim light, candles, flowers, oil burner or incense will enhance the atmosphere.
Massage table and electric equipment should be safe.
Check clients health and contra indications before starting.
Wash your hands and keep your nails short.
Ensure that your client is comfortable and warm at all times.
Keep client covered for warmth and modesty.
Dip your fingers in the oil and rub them together over the saucer so as not to drip oil all over the place.
Apply oil to your partners hand, front and back, gently, slowly and rhythmically.
Support your partners hand with your fingers, and move your thumbs in small gentle circles over the wrist bones and then the back of the hand.
In the case of anxiety or stress, massage slowly and gently
Massage along the tendons and bones/joints
Feel the texture and warmth of the skin, bones and tendons
Massage each finger and pull.
Turn your partners hand over.
Support your partners hand with your fingers.
Use your thumbs to massage over the palm in small circles. You can use some pressure with this massage stroke.
Turn your partners hand over and caress gently.
Hold (repeat for the second hand).
Arm and Hand Massage
Apply oil to arm and hand, gentle caressing rhythmical movements.
Circles around the shoulder joint.
Knead the muscles in the upper arm.
In the case of shoulder ache, work deeper into the muscles to release deep tension.
Massage elbow in circles.
Hand massage as above
Caress the whole arm.
Feather strokes on the whole arm and hand
Sandwich hand between your hands and hold.
Apply oil to foot.
In the case of anxiety or stress work slowly and gently to sedate.
Circle around the ankle bones.
Circle around the ankles.
Holding the foot with both hands do fanning with the thumbs.
Massage the top of the foot with the whole of one hand whilst supporting with the other.
Draining between the tendons.
Massage gently around the bones.
Rub the sole of the foot (apply pressure) with a fist or the heel of the hand.
Pressure work on the sole of the foot using thumbs, whilst the fingers support the foot.
Massage each toe, pull.
Caress the foot & hold.
Apply oil to leg and foot
Effleurage (initial massage stroke) leg and foot
If your client suffers from stress or anxiety work slowly and gently to sedate, calm and relax
Knead the thigh
Wringing the thigh
Pummelling the thigh
Effleurage the thigh
Define the knees using one finger
Effleurage the calf
Knead the calf muscles
Effleurage the calf
Massage the feet
Massage gently the whole leg and foot.
Hold feet for a moment.
Neck & Shoulder Massage
Good for neck, and shoulder pain and for tight muscles.
Get your partner to sit on a chair, top off, wrapped up in a towel for modesty and warmth
Mix oils & apply to shoulders and neck
Massage neck and shoulders using effleurage (caress)
Kneading the neck
Kneading the shoulders
Hacking on shoulders
Lay your forearms on shoulders
Lean your weight onto the forearms slowly and gently
Separate forearms from centre outwards, using pressure
Effleurage neck and shoulders
Hold hands on shoulders to end.
Good for back pain
Hold your hands over your partner's back over the towel.
Uncover the back.
Tuck towel into pants
Mix oils & apply
Effleurage (a gentle caressing massage) from shoulders down to waist.
Effleurage (from waist to shoulders)
Feathering (very light touch massage stroke).
Cover the back
Hold to end the massage.
Check with your client if you can use oil
If client agrees, apply oil to face, avoiding area around the eyes, including ears
If your client suffers from stress or anxiety work slowly and gently to sedate, calm and relax
Using thumbs, massage in strips from centre of forehead to temples
Massage in circles around temples, using finger tips
Using index finger tip, massage in circles around eyes (avoid area immediately around eyes)
Gentle pinch on eye brows
Massage strokes on cheeks from centre towards ears
Massage strokes on chin likewise
Gently pinch chin
Gentle massage strokes on the whole face
Cup hands over eyes. Hold to end.
Head & Face Massage
Good for headache, or tight muscles in the scalp
If your client suffers from stress or anxiety work slowly to sedate, relax and calm
Comb hair with your fingers (be careful not to pull hair)
Gently shampoo scalp, all over
Massage scalp using pressure, moving scalp tissue with fingers tips
Apply oil to face, if client agrees
Lay your hands on forehead. Hold
Separate hands, stroking forehead from centre to temples
Stroke cheeks likewise
Stroke chin likewise
Hold forehead to end.