A good massage therapist will never force pressure into the muscle. They will continue to apply pressure until the muscle pushes back against them. The muscle will then slowly begin to release and allow the therapist to move along it. The pressure used should not be painful, but should walk a fine line between pleasurable release of tension and a pain-blocking response from the body (tensing up).
In the United Kingdom, reflexology is coordinated on a voluntary basis by the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Registrants are required to meet Standards of Proficiency outlined by Profession Specific Boards, but since CNHC is voluntary anyone practicing can describe themselves as a reflexologist. When the CNHC began admitting reflexologists, a skeptic searched for, and found, 14 of them who were claiming efficacy on illnesses. Once pointed out, the CNHC had the claims retracted as it conflicted with the UK's Advertising Standards Authority code.
A large, three-year study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management examined how massage affected pain, fatigue, stress and anxiety, nausea, and depression in 1,290 people with cancer. The study showed massage, especially Swedish massage, improved cancer symptoms, even in those with substantial symptoms. Researchers believe the comforting use of human touch played a role.
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Sports massage was developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training. However, contrary to what the name suggests, you don't have to be an athlete to benefit from sports massage. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons and can be beneficial for people with injuries, chronic pain or restricted range of motion.
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The stones themselves are volcanic basalt often sourced from beaches in Mexico or Chile. When you walk into your therapist’s massage room, he or she will already have heated between 48 and 56 stones of varying sizes to between 130 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit in a specially designed water heater. It is important that the temperature of these stones be at this level, so that they will be neither too cold nor too hot. If the water is too cold, harmful bacteria may form; too hot, and the client will complain loudly. In most cases, you will see that the therapist has already placed eight flat stones in pairs on the massage table that will neatly align with your spine when you lie down. A linen cloth or towel will be placed between you and the stones. There will also be a range of many massage oils available. Grapeseed, lavender, olive, and rose oils are favorites.
Prenatal massage uses mild pressure similar to Swedish massage. The therapist will focus on areas such as your lower back, hips, and legs. You can be fully or partially undressed depending on your comfort level. During the massage, you’ll either lie on your side or on a specially designed table with a cutout for your belly. If you’ve had pain in your calves or other parts of your leg, see a doctor before you have a massage.
States require between 500 and 1,000 hours of massage therapy education. Programs include substantial science (anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology) as well as theory and technique. The basic license-qualifying massage therapy program will generally include no more than a short introduction to stone massage therapy. It may be enough only to intrigue!