At Somatic Impact, I take pride in using evidence based practices. This means that I keep up with current research in the field, always on the lookout for information that can improve outcomes for my clients. Massage research is in its infancy, so it's an exciting time. New studies provide increasing insight into what massage does and does not do.
Below is a brief summary of the types of massage and models of the body that I use in my practice.
Unlike other forms of massage, orthopedic massage isn't a technique or set of techniques. The word "orthopedic" refers to the locomotor system of the body, or the musculoskeletal system.
Similar to the branch of medicine referred to as "orthopedics," it is more of an approach to assessment and the development of treatment strategies than anything else. In a nutshell, orthopedic massage teaches us to use the right tool for the job rather than restrict treatment to a specific technique or set of techniques.
Deep tissue massage is a style of work with the specific goal of lengthening and elongating muscle and connective tissue. The name can be a bit misleading, as the techniques can be applied to both superficial and deep tissues. While deep tissue massage can be applied very deeply, in general, its application is much more specific and detail oriented in nature than just applying deep pressure.
Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) involves the assessment and treatment of pain as it relates to overall balance in the body. The primary lesson from neuromuscular therapy is that pain often originates in a site remote from where it is felt. By addressing imbalance in the areas which interact with the area of pain, balance is restored, and the pain fades away, sometimes without even touching the painful area.
Known as "Lazy Person's Yoga" in Thailand, Thai massage involves graceful, assisted yoga like poses and kneading along lines of connective tissue. This helps to soften and stretch the soft tissues, balance the biomechanical system, and address pain.
It is traditionally performed fully clothed on a floor mat, but I incorporate Thai stretching within the context of my table work. It is fantastic at balancing the system overall as well as addressing specific complaints, providing a sense of energized relaxation.
Swedish massage is the first massage modality introduced to the United states. It is still the most common form of massage, employing gliding, kneading, beating, rubbing, and stretching techniques to balance the system overall.
Also known as PNF stretching or MET, facilitated stretching engages the neurological system to aid muscles in releasing neurologically perpetuated shortening. It is also well equipped for breaking acute spasms or cramps.
Active isolated stretching, or AIS, also engages with the nervous system. It alternates short stretch periods or two seconds with periods of rest. AIS is a fantastic way to improve range of motion in a muscle without the negative effects that static stretching has been hsown to have.
This is more a collection of specific movements or massage techniques that cross many disciplines rather than a single discipline on its own, but I think it's worth mentioning here.
The nervous system is often at the core of muscular imbalance. Specific guided movements and manual techniques help to relax muscles that are too short while "turning on" muscles that have been inactive. I often recommend follow up care by a certified personal trainer or a physical therapist, as I am limited in the types of techniques that I can employ in my practice.
Mindfulness techniques are not massage techniques, but one major benefit of bodywork is that it brings our attention more fully to painful areas. Our minds naturally avoid pain and eventually dissociate from those areas of pain, which only reinforces the habits that produced the pain in the first place. By helping you to remain present with painful areas, awareness can return and aid you in decreasing that pain in the long run.