New Trends in Massage Therapy

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There is no doubt that the popularity of massage therapy has continued to climb over the past few years. Many more people consider massage to be part of mainstream life. They also access its use as part of a system of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Instead of totally relying on traditional medical practices, consumers now mix and match.
Yet, massage is also about enjoyment and pleasure. It helps heal the body but it also relaxes the mind. An experience with a message therapist can be holistic in its approach and effects. It depends upon the type of therapeutic massage, the training, the philosophy and the techniques. The new trends in massage therapy tend to reflect this mixed combination of the sensual, the physical, the emotional and the spiritual.
At the top of the list is Watsu. Watsu is a form of Shiatsu Massage Therapy. It is the development of Harold Dull in Harbin in the 1980s in Hot Springs, Middleton, California. Only recently has it begun to gain increased popularity among spas.
Watsu is actually short for Water Shiatsu. It combines the therapeutic massage techniques of traditional Japanese Shiatsu with the element of water. A client floats in a warm pool of water. The practitioner supports them while massaging and stretching the body to clear the channels, free the Ki and restore a sense of well-being. Like many non-touch massage therapies, Watsu creates a bond and energy exchange between the client and the practitioner. Watsu is beneficial for people with chronic pain. It is also helpful in the easing of arthritic pain.
Another new trend in massage therapy is Five-Element Massage. It combines Shiatsu, Swedish and Energy work massage with Traditional Chinese Medicine law of the 5 elements. These laws perceive a world of wood, water, fire, metal and air. The system also perceives each person as a microcosm of the universal energy force. Within the body, emotions and energy wax and wane. They flow along specific channels or meridians. When the channels become blocked, health, mental and emotional problems occur. A practitioner utilizes pressure to remove the blockages and to restore balance so the cyclical flow of energy may continue. In many spas, the practitioner utilizes various elements of the system. In addition, the client may receive their treatment in an element of their choice e.g. water.
Aromatherapy is another popular trend in therapeutic massage treatments. Using the essential oils derived from the various parts of plants, Aromatherapy aims to treat both the senses and the body. In theory, the scents and oils of specific plants help in sensory and curative measures to restore the body to health. The absorption through the skin through the massage transfers the properties of the plant to the specific body functions. This helps improve health and raise spirits.
Shiatsu remains one of the most popular forms of massage therapy. Together with Reiki, it continues to attract practitioners and cliental. Shiatsu is essentially a type of Japanese Acupressure. Deep finger pressure to specific body points or the placement of hands on wider areas for several seconds helps promote circulation of the blood and lymphatic fluids. It is the only form of massage CAM officially recognized and encouraged in Japan. Shiatsu has spawned several other new trends in massage therapy. These include Wiatsu mentioned above.
Reiki is an energetic healing practice. It uses the traditional Chinese concept of elemental energy forces to work its healing. A practitioner of Reiki rarely touches the physical body. Energy work is done by balancing and/or amplifying through creating a link and exchange between the client’s and the practitioner’s energy fields. The result is both an amplification and balancing of energy on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual planes. The practitioner to accomplish this holds their hands some 2 to 6 inches away from the client’s body.
Along similar lines is Thai Massage Therapy. This 2,000 year-old form of therapeutic massage continues to find favor with the public. It combines acupressure with other massage techniques. Gentle pressure on arms, legs, feet, back and hands combines with body movements to improve flexibility, relieve muscle tension and to realign the skeleton. Working along the 10 crucial energy lines, Thai Massage practitioners provide therapeutic and relaxing massage treatments for its clients.
There is a rising interest in Hot Stone Massage Therapy. The use of hot and cold volcanic stones to relief body ills is becoming more fashionable. In addition, any form of massage therapy considered holistic is increasingly popular. Yet, with the increased involvement in athletic pursuits such as jogging and bicycling Sports Massage, with its attention to specific sports-related parts and pains, is also becoming trendy.

Posted by Andrew
on Nov 3 2010. Filed under Massage.
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