(Part 3 of 1 l 2 l 3 )
Massage and More
by Michael Braunstein
Licensed massage therapists, (LMT's,) now offer more than just massage to their clients. With interest growing toward traditional therapies and other alternatives to Western techno/pharmaceutical medicine, many massage therapists have responded by adding dozens of related modalities to the ways they can help their clients.
Many of the adjuncts that LMT's now offer are variations on the hands-on work of massage. Difference in touch, stroke, intensity and philosophy define the techniques. Other modalities focus on the energy involved in healing and balance and can more accurately be described by the term "energywork." Some combine touch and energywork.
Indeed, there are so many different areas that contribute to our healthy balance, even the attention to the physical layout of the massage suite can have influence. Music therapy, aromatherapy, feng shui, color therapy and thermal therapy are often considerations made in providing for clients. Some massage therapists use crystals and gems, others use techniques for chakra balancing. Our interest at this time is more on the direct massage-oriented therapies.
- Reichian Therapy - Wilhelm Reich, M.D. was an Austrian psychoanalyst who worked with Sigmund Freud. He employed many Freudian concepts in his work but the main difference he developed with Freud is that he applied body work and breathing techniques in his therapies. Reichian therapy is considered the original body-oriented psychotherapy. Reich described the tendency of the body to hold on to emotional and psychological stress as "armoring." By using breathing work, deep tissue massage and client/therapist dialogue, emotional release resulted. Reich had a notion of the life energy often called chi in Eastern cultures. In his technique, he called it orgone. Some of his ideas were considered radical by the conventional medical doctors who viewed his work and he was often at odds with the American Medical Association. Though Reichian Therapy per se is not commonly offered by LMT's, many of the more psychotherapeutic work has its basis in it.
- Reiki - Reiki (pronounced ray - key) seems to be a fairly common adjunct to the LMT's repertoire. It requires three levels of study for complete proficiency and is offered in classes by various teachers qualified to certify others in its use. The origins of reiki are believed to be based in ancient Tibet. However, reiki is a Japanese word literally translated to universal - energy. This is because it was rediscovered by a Japanese scholar, Dr. Mikao Usui in the 1800s. Reiki is energywork, not really massage. Hands are usually just touching the body or very close to it. Clothing remains on and the focus is on tuning the flow of life energy through the body. It is considered very powerful and effective by those who have used it and received it as therapy. A couple of Western-oriented adaptations very similar in nature are therapeutic touch and healing touch. In its most traditional Usui form, reiki also utilizes archetypal symbols to facilitate healing. Judeo-Christian traditions might have used the term "laying-on of hands" to describe such techniques.
- Radiance Technique - A specific adaptation of reiki, Radiance Technique was developed by a student of Hawayo Takata named Dr. Barbara Ray. Takata was the fourth generation of lineage from Dr. Usui who rediscovered reiki. The Radiance technique seems to have more of a focus on teaching the client the means to enhance their own healing energy.
- Rolfing - Also known as Structural Integration, rolfing is perhaps the best-known of the deep-tissue and myofascial forms of bodywork. It is named for its innovator, Dr. Ida Rolf. It is a precise and specific means of manipulating the fascia (the connective sheath of tissue, ligaments and tendons throughout the body) and the muscles the fascia connect. Rolfing considers the relationship of the body to the force of gravity and how it affects us. Rolf realized that a body out of structural balance is literally in a war against gravity. Like the extreme efforts required to keep the out-of-balance Tower of Pisa from toppling, extraordinary effort is required to counteract gravity when our body is out of balance. Rolf also became aware of the structural integrity of the body when she realized something like a foot injury had related effect on other parts of the body. Rolfing is not a general form; it is very organized in its approach. The body is seen in segments and work is done on each section to establish balance. Aligning or stacking these segments in relation to each balances the body resulting in less strain. The deep pressure massage of the muscles and fascia returns flexibility to the connective tissues. The results of rolfing vary in those who seek to use it. Since all of the body, including organs like the heart and kidneys, is connected by the sheath of fascia, work on the fascial system relates throughout the body. A case that brought Rolf a great deal of attention is when Fritz Perls, a co-founder of the Esalen Institute and progenitor of Gestalt therapy, had Rolf help him. He found his serious heart condition was relieved by rolfing therapy.
- Shiatsu - Shiatsu is a Japanese form of acupressure massage. The word literally means "finger pressure" in Japanese. Shiatsu defines 660 specific trigger points for pressure that result in opening the channels of healing energy known as ki. This is, of course, very similar to acupuncture. Though shiatsu works with pressure points, it is traditionally a gentle form of massage.
- Sports Massage - Sports massage is a specialty within the field of massage therapy that is geared toward the muscles used in athletic performance. It is designed to relieve the pain of athletic activity and to enhance the flexibility necessary to maintain healthy activity. Many modalities are used and sports massage defines a focus rather than one specific kind.
- Trigger Point Therapy - One of the best-known early practitioners of trigger point was President John F. Kennedy's personal physician, Dr. Janet Travel. Trigger point therapy is another approach that recognizes the connection between the fascia of the body. Travel did much work mapping out the various points on the connective tissues that reference to other points on the body, including soft tissue. For example, a trigger point on the back of the neck, can alleviate the condition of a sore throat. Travel began using a conventional medical approach and injected novocaine to numb the trigger point. This allowed deep massage of the point and relieved conditions in other parts of the body. Bonnie Prudden adapted the concept of trigger point therapy for lay persons who do not give injections.
- Zero Balancing - ZB is a combined form of bodywork and energy work designed to balance the innate healing power of a person. (See separate article.)
There are several modalities available through your massage therapist or care person. Not all have been listed here. If you have questions about a therapy, we may have an answer. If you are a practitioner and want to remind us of a therapy, do likewise. Here is how to contact us.
Bodywork Article 3 of: 1 l 2 3