The researchers also note there are psychological benefits for athletes receiving massages, which other research shows can include improved focus and confidence. Although more research is still needed on a long-term scale, both tissue healing and the psychological effects of massages are areas that seem promising for both professional and recreational athletes.
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The underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are certain points or "reflex areas" on the feet and hands that are connected energetically to specific organs and body parts through energy channels in the body. By applying pressure to reflex areas, a reflexologist is said to remove energy blockages and promote health in the related body area.
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Research shows that firmer massages with more pressure can result in a significant reduction in arthritis pain compared to lighter massages. Lighter massage tends to be arousing (not relaxing) because often the heart rate goes up. However, with moderate pressure, heart rate usually goes down, and this stimulates relaxation and reduced tension. (13)
Trust and pain. Bear in mind that feeling safe is critical to the experience of good pain. Tiny differences in trust and comfort can make the difference between an intense pain being good or bad. Much of the “goodness” of good pain comes from mental context, from knowing that a pain is not dangerous or pointless, that it will not increase suddenly, or anything else yucky or shocking.
Shiatsu (literally, "finger pressure") is an ancient technique from Japan. It combines gentle stretches with finger pressure to work on different pressure points. The idea is to fix imbalances in the flow of energy in your body. Although there's no concrete evidence of Shiatsu's use as a healing method, people who have had this massage still report stress and pain relief. About.com's Alternative Medicine site says:
Wow what an amazing experience here. I came here on a whim while trying to kill some time. I popped in right after they opened thinking I probably didn't have a good chance of getting in last minute. The receptionist was incredibly friendly and was able to get me in within 30 minutes. They had a nice setup in the waiting area with tea and a comfortable sitting area that made the waiting time go by quickly. I got an hour massage with one of their female massage therapist. She was absolutely phenomenal. After starting my new job I have had bad back and neck pain from working long shifts on my feet. She was incredibly attentive and made sure to pinpoint what areas needed the most attention. I love that they had multiple oil options. I picked the organic coconut oil to be used on the majority of my body and another oil on my back where it's more prone to breakouts. The whole experience was so relaxing. I left leaving refreshed and my neck pain had significantly improved. The next time I'm in Denver I will absolutely be back.
Swedish massage therapy is the modality that comes to mind when most people think about massage. As the best-known type of bodywork performed today, one of the primary goals of the Swedish massage technique is to relax the entire body. This is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage therapy goes beyond relaxation. Swedish massage is exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins, improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.
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One theory is that muscle knots may be caused by something that goes wrong at the “motor end plate” — where a nerve ending attaches to a muscle cell.9 We don’t know why this happens, or what exactly goes wrong, but there is circumstantial evidence that motor end plates are the “point” in trigger point. That evidence is too complex and controversial to review properly here. It is explored in detail in my book. Some research has suggested that it may actually be possible to physically destroy the motor end plate with strong massage, thereby inactivating the trigger point.10 When it regrows — these are microscopic structures, it doesn’t take them long to heal — the trigger point may be gone.
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The Wellness Center, inside Whole Foods in Denver, Colorado, provides massage and wellness services that will dramatically change the way you feel and empower you to attain a new level of health and wellness. We are a locally owned and operated organization that has helped boost the community’s vitality for over 14 years. Whether you are looking to relieve pain, manage stress or alleviate illness – our expertly trained and experienced practitioners and staff will help guide you to better health and wellness. Allowing you to live your life. Fully.