Massage Therapy and other Bodywork


You may think, "Massage??! That word can bring up an unsavory image!"

Well, the ancient and effective medical use did lose some of its value and prestige because of the parlors, however this image is fading, as awareness of these therapeutic properties grow. Thank goodness!

You may want to do some research on the many different bodywork and massage treatments available. The Internet has lots of material on these bodywork therapies. Read all you can to find the one or ones that you would feel comfortable trying. We have provided brief descriptions of a few of them on this page.

It could, very definitely, be beneficial to you to explore the various bodywork modalities. Parkinson's sufferers like yourself have experienced improved daily functioning, increased quality of sleep, better circulation and decreased stress with these types of physical therapies.

Types of Bodywork

There are many kinds of bodywork, only one of which is massage. Some are named for a group of specific movements such as Classical, Swedish, Shiatsu, and Myofascial Release.

Some are named for the specific demographic group it benefits such as Sports, Geriatrics, Pregnancy, and Chronic Pain.

Last but not least, some are named for the individuals who discovered, implemented or marketed the type of massage or bodywork: The Alexander Technique, The Trager Approach, and the Feldenkrais Method.

Some therapists are competent and certified in several modalities, so you could try several different ones with one therapist.

We will give you a brief description of a number of these modalities further down on this page. But first, let's get clear on what they are, starting with Massage...

Definition of Bodywork and Massage Therapy

Have you ever had a professional massage? If so, you may already know what a wonderful experience it can be. But, if you haven't... this will give you a pretty good idea what to expect, and what how it may help you:

In therapeutic massage, the soft tissue structures of your body are manipulated by holding, causing movement and/or applying pressure to the body. Usually the hands are used and sometimes the elbow for added pressure.

Sometimes, bodywork involves deep-muscle massage, which stretches the connective tissue around tight muscles, ridding them of cramping and allowing greater freedom of movement. Massage can also improve motion in your joints, soften hardened muscle tissue, and stimulate your lymphatic system.

The purpose of Therapeutic Massage is to prevent and alleviate pain, discomfort, muscle spasm, and stress. It is also used to promote health and wellness by improving the functioning of your circulatory, lymphatic, muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems.

Classical massage can help to invigorate you. It can also ease your muscular and perhaps emotional tension. You will love it for relaxation.

If you're like some people, however, you may find it hard to tolerate the close physical contact that bodywork involves. You may be sensitive to manual stimuli. Using only a qualified practitioner could help to put you at ease.

The benefits could very well out-weigh your discomfort. And over time, as you experience the benefits, and you come to trust your practitioner(s), you may just learn to look forward to you next massage!

Okay, now that we understand a little more about what bodywork is, let's take a look at a few of the different types... Swedish Massage

A gentle, relaxing massage that uses long strokes, kneading, friction, tapping, percussion, vibration, effleurage, and shaking motions. Usually, your Swedish massage would include the following sequence of techniques:

1. Effleurage: gliding strokes with the palms, thumbs and/or fingertips

2. Petrissage: kneading movements with the hands, thumbs and/or fingers

3. Friction: circular pressures with the palms of hands, thumbs and/or fingers

4. Vibration: oscillatory movements that shake or vibrate the body

5. Percussion: brisk hacking or tapping

6. Passive and active movements: bending and stretching

Swedish massage feels good, is relaxing and invigorating.

Trigger-point Therapy

Focuses on specific complaints, such as neck stiffness, back pain, frozen shoulder, or muscles spasms. Trigger points occur in muscles, tendons, and the connective tissue (fascia) around nerves, muscles, and bones. These points often radiate pain to other parts of the body.

The therapist applies deep, continuous pressure to the irritated point. The area is first prepared with massage before deep pressure is applied with hand or elbow. After the tension in the point has been released, the muscles around it are stretched and stroked. A session lasts about one hour.

Bowen Technique

Involves the therapist employing a "plucking" technique (similar to playing a guitar) on the tendons, fascia and nerves, which sets up a vibration from the nerves to the muscles. This reflex helps to relax muscles, free joints, improve lymph and blood circulation.

Unlike massage, there is no force or deep pressure applied.

Conditions that are benefited by this approach include problems in the back, such as sciatica, abdominal and diaphragmatic pain, chest and sternal pain. These issues can also be helped: carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, headaches, digestive and respiratory conditions.

Alexander Technique

Using guided movements and verbal directions, practitioners of the Alexander Technique re-educate the musculoskeletal system to improve mobility, balance, and posture. After poor habits are identified, new patterns of movement are introduced, with particular attention to the alignment of the head, neck, and spine.

An Alexander session may begin with the practitioner aligning your body while you lie on a massage table. Then, you will be guided through practice in standing, walking, sitting, and bending.

The goal is to make you aware of conscious patterns that create poor posture and muscle tension. With awareness of these patterns, you are then encouraged to inhibit them.

The Alexander neuromuscular re-education is beneficial in correcting spinal deformities, relieving chronic neck and back pain, and improving balance and movement.

The Trager Approach

This is a system of re-education that replaces restrictive patterns of motion with free physical movements. The Trager Approach is based on the belief that physical tension originates in the unconscious mind.

The Trager practitioner imparts a feeling of pleasant sensations and effortless movements through gentle rocking motions. The essence of this technique contains gracefulness in every movement.

While you, as the patient, lies on a massage table, the Trager practitioner works from a meditative state, called "hook-up," before touching you -- a state of connection.

Normally, you would probably experience a shimmering, rhythmic wave-like motion, that penetrates to the core, and that the body can remember as effortless and playful. The practitioner uses the weight of your own body, allowing gravity to guide it through motion.

With each touch, the practitioner communicates the suggestion, "How can it be lighter? How can it be softer?" These effortless and graceful movements touch your tissue, but penetrate your unconscious mind.

Your sessions may last up to 90 minutes. You would be instructed how to perform home exercises called Mentastics that recall and reinforce the free movements experienced in Trager sessions.

Mentastics, a term coined by Dr. Milton Trager and his wife Emily, means mental gymnastics -- movement directed by our minds by asking questions such as: What is Lighter? What is Freer? What is Softer? Pause and listen -- your body and mind will find the way.

The Trager approach is not a technique or a method. It is an individualized experience, which is tailored to the client's need and rhythm. The practitioner transmits to the client what it is like to be effortless and freer in movement and in mind.

The benefits are increased mental clarity, deep relaxation, improved physical mobility, and relief from chronic pain. The Trager Approach has also been very effective for those with neurological conditions including Parkinson's, polio, and sciatica.

The Feldenkrais Method

The Feldenkrais Method,consists of a large number of exercises performed either in group classes or solo with a practitioner. The technique aims at improving autonomic motor responses.

While lying down, you are guided through a series of light, slow movements designed to support your neuromuscular system, and alter habitual patterns of movement.

The idea is to increase neuromuscular awareness, followed by movement re-education. You are taught to recognize habitual patterns of movement and discover how to move with more ease and flexibility.

"Awareness through Movement" is the essential ingredient for re-education of our mind and body. It is a learning process through movement. New habits and postures are integrated in your nervous system that translates into movements.

You may actually experience increased flexibility, energy, improved digestion and respiration, and a decrease in pain.

Feldenkrais exercises can enhance physical performance, relieve chronic and acute pain, and help recover from neurological dysfunctions such as brain injuries.

And now, continue your research of Alternative and Complementary Treatments by exploring the massage link for some energy healing therapies.

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