Western massage therapy includes some of the better known and more popular massage techniques available. As a category, Western massage relies upon various strokes used to manipulate soft tissue. Many massage types are basic to the Western massage family but four – Swedish, deep tissue, sports and neuromuscular therapy – are the most common.
Swedish massage forms the initial set of practice techniques massage therapists learn – it’s also a great head-to-toe experience for first time massage recipients. During a basic Swedish massage, oil or lotion is typically used to facilitate long, smooth strokes called effleurage. Other types of strokes, including kneading, friction, stretching and tapping are also used to facilitate relaxation and circulation.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep tissue massage uses movements similar to Swedish massage but is aimed at the deeper structures of muscles and fascia. With this Western massage technique, the therapist works on underlying tissues by applying pressure and focused strokes to release chronic tension and knots. This type of massage can be useful in easing pain caused by tight muscles.
Sports massage techniques are named for their use with athletes to assist in their performance and recovery. The focus of the sports massage techniques, sometimes used in tandem with other treatments such as electrical muscle stimulation, cold laser and hydrotherapy, aims at rehabilitation of injury, relieving chronic pain or easing restricted range of motion.
Neuromuscular therapy, also known as trigger point massage, “triggers” points that cause a painful response. A trigger point is located in a taut band of muscle fibers and is the most tender point in the band. Massage therapists locate and deactivate trigger points using finger pressure. Neuromuscular therapy can also be used along with other types of massage techniques to promote relaxation and pain relief.
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