Whether young or old, most of us are aware of toll taken on our health and well being by stress of everyday living. We begin to realize that illness and pain seem to be associated with lack of self-awareness and neglect of our emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

There remains within us all a need to balance our knowledge and success with and the world in which we live. We all desire to wake up full of life, looking forward to a new day.
The art and science of therapeutic massage can help us to somatically experience who we really are – from the inside out. It helps us evaluate our level of stress and connect to the messages our bodies send us long before illness and pain occur, but which we are sometimes too busy to listen to.
Massage has been demonstrated to:

  • Reduce levels of stress hormones
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Release muscular tension
  • Increase levels of hormones in the brain associated with peak metal functioning and positive mood
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Lower heart rate and blood pressure
  • Improve circulation
  • Promote healing and rehabilitation of soft tissues injuries (to muscle, tendon, etc.)
  • Balance energy
  • Support optimal physical and athletic performance
  • Enhance awareness of one’s health and ability to cope with stress

Physical and Physiological Benefits

Massage in this category affects the body primarily physiologically and/or structurally. Physiological benefits include relaxation, increased circulation, enhancement of the immune system and overall health. Structural benefits include release of tight tissue and trigger points, greater joint range of motion and easing of pain – used to prevent and help recover from injuries. Most types of massage also affect the energy of the client and bring greater self-awareness.

  • Deep tissue massage is often misused to mean a firm massage, using strong pressure. To be accurate, deep tissue refers to a system of securing the superficial (surface) layers of muscle to work on the deeper layers of muscle and tendon. Applied properly, deep tissue work can be relatively light and gentle. Whether it is applied with a strong or soft touch, it should always be gentle enough to relax into the pressure as the tissue releases.
  • Esalen massage – uses slow gentle strokes to enhance self-awareness and promote deep relaxation. Pressure is usually light to moderate.
  • Relaxation massage – can be any type of massage applied in a soothing manner to facilitate the release of stress. Pressure can be light to very deep.
  • Sports massage – again, can be any techniques applied for the purpose of optimizing physical well-being and athletic performance, reducing incidence of, and assisting recovery from injury. Sports massage is often appropriate for active seniors who are concerned with maximizing function while reducing likelihood of injury. Sports massage administered during an event, like a marathon, is different – either short, warm-up techniques prior to the event, or stretching, cool-down afterwards.
  • Reflexology – sometimes not considered massage, reflexology tries to improve health by stimulating points on the feet, hands and sometimes ears.
  • Trigger point (also sometimes called Neuromuscular therapy)– works to release areas of adhesions in muscle and fascia (connective tissue). Generally involves strong pressure to localized points of sensitivity.
  • Orthopedic (sometimes called medical or clinical massage) – usually massage intended to achieve goals of prevention and rehabilitation of injury, maximizing efficient body use. Can use any techniques, and usually involves more systemized problem solving than general massage.
  • Medical massage – when used to mean massage done in a medical setting, such as a medical office or hospital, can range from orthopedic massage to palliative, soothing massage for critically ill patients or those in recovery from illness and surgery.
  • Aston-Patterning® uses postural analysis, massage, deep tissue work and movement education to release unnecessary tensions and teach more effective ways of using the body.
  • Hot stone massage – any style of massage using hot rocks as tools to help relax the muscles and provide more pressure
  • Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy® – deep tissue massage using the feet as tools with the massage therapist holding onto bars on the ceiling. While it is strong, it is generally quite soothing– the feet apply a gentle pressure that feels like giant soft hands.

Energetic benefits

This category includes energy systems of bodywork including such styles as shiatsu, acupressure, Thai, tuina, polarity and ayurvedic. Mostly originating in Asia, these approaches all intend to maintain and restore health by stimulating points and meridians along which the life force is believed to flow. Most of these approaches are done without oil on a fully clothed client. Some, like shiatsu and Thai, involve stretching and moving of the body. In fact, Thai is called “the lazy man’s yoga.” Some styles involve finger, elbow or foot pressure held on specific points. Western applications of energy work include Therapeutic Touch and Touch for Health to promote healing by affecting the person at an energetic level. Zero-balancing works with energy using the bones as fulcrums. Cranio-sacral Therapy uses the motion of the bones of the skull and rhythm of the cranio-sacral fluid to restore well-being. While addressing the “energy” of the body, these systems almost all affect overall health and muscular tension.

Somatic approaches

The techniques of either Asian systems or western Swedish based massages can all be adapted to meet the needs of numerous special populations such as athletes, the elderly, or woman in the childbearing year.

Of the approaches named above, only the educational component of Aston-Patterning® is generally considered to be a somatic system. Others include the Feldenkrais Method®, Alexander Technique®, Rosen Method® and Rubenfeld Synergy®, all of which focus on education with touch used only incidentally. Trager® work involves gentle rocking and shaking to re-educate the nervous system to greater ease of movement.
At Redwood Massage & Sauna, all of us are highly trained and skilled. Most of us will incorporate numerous techniques and styles into a general massage designed to meet the needs and goals of the individual client. Feel free to let us know when you book your appointment if there is a particular concern or type of work you are interested in.