Relieve pain, alleviate tension, increase relaxation, and recover and prepare for physical activities. Fun, modern illustrations and intuitive organization combined with the expertise of licensed massage therapist Rachel Beider allow you to quickly implement this powerful wellness tool.
Massage therapy is a great way to connect and engage with your loved ones, applying healing techniques to reduce pain and tension while increasing relaxation and enjoyment. With this guide, learn how to give a deeply enjoyable therapeutic massage to family members, friends, or oneself.
Beautifully illustrated and designed and with easy-to-follow instructions, Massage for Beginners is the perfect guide for learning the fundamentals of giving a really great massage.
The Press Here! series offers contemporary takes on traditional hands-on healing practices for a new generation of practitioners. These introductory guides feature easy-to-access organization, clear instructions, and beautiful illustrations of each technique. Other Press Here! topics include reiki, reflexology, and acupressure.
About the Author
Rachel Beider is a licensed massage therapist and owner of two clinical massage studios in Brooklyn, NY. She sits on the boards of the Swedish Institute and Pacific College, teaches massage workshops, and helps wellness professionals start and grow their private practices.
Rachel Beider is a licensed massage therapist and owner of two clinical massage studios in Brooklyn, NY. She sits on the boards of the Swedish Institute and Pacific College, teaches massage workshops, and helps wellness professionals start and grow their private practices.www.massagewilliamsburg.com
Read an Excerpt
You can't step the waves, but you can learn to swim.
JON KABAT ZINN
HAVE ALWAYS BEEN INTERESTED IN MASSAGE THERAPY AS A WAY TO FEEL BETTER AND MORE CONNECTED WITH PEOPLE, AND I AM THRILLED TO BE ABLE TO SHARE MT KNOWLEDGE OF CLASSIC MASSAGE TECHNIQUES WITH YOU IN THIS BOOK.
THE MAGIC OF MASSAGE IS THAT IT CAN GUIDE A BODY TOWARD HEALING ITSELF. IT CAN HELP SOMEONE WHO IS SUFFERING TO FEEL BETTER THROUGHOUT THEIR HEALING PROCESS. MASSAGE BRINGS US BACK TO OURSELVES, REMINDING US TO LISTEN AND TO BREATHE, TO SLOW DOWN AND ACKNOWLEDGE PAIN AND TENSION, AND TO TAKE CARE OF OUR BODIES TENDERLY.
I GREW UP WITH SCOLIOSIS, AND REGULARLY EXPERIENCED THE FRUSTRATION AND STRESS OF CHRONIC PAIN. MT EARLIEST MEMORY OF MASSAGE IS OF MT MOTHER, A CLASSICALLY- TRAINED PROFESSIONAL BALLERINA, WORKING ON MT SHOULDER PAIN USING KNEADING STROKES, WHICH GAVE ME SOME MUCH-NEEDED RELIEF. LATER, I WOULD GO ON TO TRADE BACK RUBS WITH FRIENDS, AND READ EVERY BOOK I COULD FIND ON THE SUBJECT OF MASSAGE.
I FIRST STUDIED MASSAGE FORMALLY IN THAILAND, BECOMING CERTIFIED IN THAI MASSAGE AT THE WAY PO SCHOOL IN BANGKOK. I IMMEDIATELY REALIZED THE BENEFITS AND JOT OF WORKING WITH MT HANDS AND WITH PEOPLE.
I CONTINUED MT EDUCATION AT THE SWEDISH INSTITUTE, AND BECAME LICENSED AS A MASSAGE THERAPIST IN NEW YORK, WHERE I PRACTICE TODAY. MT STUDIO COMBINES A MEDICALLY BASED MASSAGE PRACTICE WITH THE RELAXING ENVIRONMENT OF A HEALING SPACE, AND IT IS WONDERFUL PLACE TO BP- IT'S NOT WITH EVERY JOB THAT YOU GET TO BE THE BEST PART OF SOMEONE'S DAT, EVERY DAY.
THE INFORMATION PRESENTED IN THIS BOOR IS NOT INTENDED AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR TRAINING BT A LICENSED MASSAGE INSTRUCTOR. THE METHODOLOGIES AND PROTOCOL PRESENTED HERE SHOULD ONLY BE UTILIZED AS A GIFT TO THE READERS THEMSELVES AND TO THEIR LOVED ONES. IF YOU ARE INSPIRED BT WHAT YOU LEARN HERE, YOU ARE ENCOURAGED TO JOIN AN ACCREDITED MASSAGE THERAPY COURSE.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MASSAGE
Ancient civilizations dating back over 5,000 years have used massage for its healing properties.
THE BENEFITS OF MASSAGE
The benefits of massage are immeasurable, as they reach the physical body, mind, and spirit. As humans, the mind — body connection is extremely powerful. There's no better way of accessing that connection than through physical touch, provided with dignity and respect. A better-feeling body leads to a better-feeling mind.
Practicing massage is a wonderful way to connect, to the receiver and to yourself. It builds trust and fosters a feeling of wellbeing for both the massage provider and the receiver in the work.
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People seek out massage for many different reasons, including shoulder tension, back pain, joint stiffness, neck issues, jaw pain, headaches, sports injuries, arthritis, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome, menstrual cramps, fibromyalgia, and mood disorders such as anxiety and depression.
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We know that any injury or issue is made significantly worse by stress, and massage is an excellent tool for stress reduction.
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Massage is an important part of self-care, and works best when combined with a healthy regimen of stretching and strengthening exercises.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
This contemporary take on a traditional practice makes massage accessible to a new generation of readers.
1 Planning Your Session PAGES 18-41
Here you will learn about the types of strokes and how to apply them, as well is how to plan a session, from setting the mood to understanding what is happening beneath the fingertips.
2 Self-Care for the Provider PAGES 42-49
The massage provider must look after themselves as well as the receiver, so here you will learn basic preparatory stretches and how to use your body comfortably during a massage.
3 Getting to Work PAGES 50-93
This chapter teaches you everything you need to know to give a phenomenal, step-by-step massage rooted in anatomy and physiology. You will learn how to massage each area of the body and how to address the major muscle groups.
4 Treatment Plans PAGES 94-111
This chapter explores various protocols for specific ailments. You will learn where to focus a massage to bring relief from symptoms such as headache, sinus congestion, and arthritis.
5 Self-Massage PAGES 112-125
This chapter shows you how you can effectively apply massage techniques to yourself, whether by hand or with the aid of a foam roller or tennis ball.CHAPTER 2
PLANNING YOUR SESSION
Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.
TYPES OF STROKES
There are seven different types of strokes used in a modern Swedish massage. This book will teach you about compression, the long, gliding strokes of effleurage, and the deep kneading strokes of petrissage. You'll be introduced to the muscle-tracing strokes of stripping, the therapeutic use of cross-fiber friction, the tone-producing stroke of tapotement, and the depth of trigger-point therapy for pain relief.
Compression strokes use the flat part of the palms to slowly introduce your touch and to warm up an area. This is a very relaxing, pressing stroke, where you slowly sink into the receiver as they exhale, moving rhythmically with their breath and easing up on the pressure with every inhale. Compression can be applied without oil, through sheets or clothing, and is useful if you're unable to work directly on the skin. More intense specific compression is used for Trigger-Point Therapy (see page 27).
Effleurage strokes are long, gliding, rhythmic, and gentle. They are used in a traditional Swedish massage to introduce your touch to the receiver, and to spread out any oil or lotion. Use the flat part of the palms, keeping your hands relaxed, with light to medium pressure, while slowly gliding back and forth along the length of the muscles, making broad circles or slow waves. The slower your pace, the more relaxing the session will be.
Petrissage follows effleurage, and uses medium pressure to knead, pull, wring, and squeeze the muscles. A slow and steady rhythm is used to bring circulation to an area, help the muscles to relax, and to warm up the body and prepare it for deeper work. Use the whole part of the hand to grasp and gently lift up the muscles, picking them up alternately between both hands. Use your thumbs to make slow, deep circles along the muscles.
A stripping stroke can be used along the length of the muscle for deeper, more focused work. Stripping can be done by using fingertips, thumbs, or the heel of the hand to press deeply, while moving slowly along the belly of the muscle, from one end of its attachment to the other. The intention is to feel for any areas of tension, or adhesions (see page 28) and, when you find them, to go deeply along them to help them release. Your hands should remain firm but relaxed.
Cross-fiber friction is a firm and deep stroke performed against the length of a muscle, slowly going across the belly and the fibers, to help further reduce adhesions. The fingertips or thumbs are used to feel for areas in need of extra attention. Sink your fingers into the muscle and press firmly, moving slowly across the muscle fibers in a back and forth motion.
With tapotement, or pummeling, use loosely clenched fists or the sides of your hands to bounce off the flesh, one hand after the other. This is used especially in sports massage to warm up muscles. Your hands should be loose and relaxed as you rhythmically move up and down the body.
Trigger-point therapy works to release bands of hyper-irritable muscle. These spots create a pain-referral pattern that spreads to another area of the body. People tend to have trigger points in their shoulders or neck that cause tension headaches. To address a trigger point, sink firmly into it, holding the pressure for six to ten seconds, then gently release and use circular strokes to bring more circulation.
A knot is a hard, lumpy feeling in a muscle. The word "knot" is a misnomer, as muscles aren't literally tangled up. Instead, the muscle fibers start to stick together, forming an adhesion.
Our muscles are layered and oriented in many different directions. These layers cross each other at various angles. Think of some as parallel, running alongside each other, while others are perpendicular, running across each other. To complicate matters further, there are often several layers of muscles right on top of each other. From time to time at these crossings, rather than gliding past each other, muscles may become adhered or "stuck" to their surrounding structures, resulting in a crunchy, lumpy, hard, and painful spot that can feel tense and uncomfortable.
An adhesion can start to limit your range of motion, making it harder to move or stretch in a certain direction, which is often uncomfortable and painful.
What Causes Knots?
Muscles become adhered for all kinds of reasons, most commonly because of poor posture and sitting still (in front of a computer or at a desk) for too long, or repetitive use. Sound familiar? When we don't move around, we don't allow proper blood flow. Circulation is important because it lubricates our muscles, bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients. We aren't meant to be sedentary; our bodies need movement and action to stay healthy.
Another contributing factor to adhesions is dehydration. Coffee and alcohol are diuretics, and in order to stay well hydrated and in good shape, our bodies require water. Muscles are very spongy tissue, and need to stay well hydrated to perform at their best.
Injuries can also contribute to adhesions, and they are commonly found at points of scar tissue.
When You Find a Knot
When you think you've found a knot, check in with the receiver and ask them how that spot feels. If it's an area that they would like work done on, slowly sink your fingers in, making sure to check in regarding pressure (see Touch Pressure, page 41). The receiver should feel relief at having pressure placed on an area with a knot: the effect should feel like "delicious" pain, not scary pain. Use cross-fiber strokes or circular friction to address the area, always working within the pain tolerance of the receiver.
We experience different types of pain, and the treatment massage can provide depends on the kind of pain being felt.
Muscular pain can feel dull, achy, heavy, and sore. Massage is appropriate for treating muscular pain.
Chronic pain is pain that lasts for several months, and can feel dull and achy or sharp and surprising, for stretches of time. Pain signals can remain active in our nervous system long after an injury has gone away. Examples of chronic pain include headaches, backaches, and arthritis. Massage can be used safely as a natural remedy to help manage chronic pain.
Acute pain is temporary, sudden, and surprising in its onset. It often happens when we have an accident, burn, cut, broken bone, or injury. Because acute pain tends to involve inflammation, massage is not appropriate since it may cause more stress or pain.
Nerve pain is sharp and shooting, for example when you bump the ulnar nerve (sometimes called the funny bone) in your elbow. It can feel electric, or like pins and needles. Massage is not appropriate for nerve pain.
THE SKILL OF PALPATION
Palpation is the act of feeling what is happening underneath your fingertips. It's the difference between looking at a page with words on it and reading the page.
When we palpate well, we can respond to what we are feeling more efficiently. The best massage therapists are excellent practitioners of the skill of palpation. The best way of understanding what you are feeling when you place your hands on a receiver is to memorize the map of the body and its structures. Studying anatomy, as well as understanding the bony landmarks and the pathways of where each muscle begins and ends, will help you to recognize what you are feeling.
Experience the Feeling
To practice this skill, try placing a hair underneath a sheet of paper. Close your eyes and notice when you're able to feel the hair through the page. Add more sheets of paper to create an additional challenge for your senses and to heighten your skills.
Trigger points are common spots in muscles that create a constellation of ache known as a pain-referral pattern. When a trigger point is compressed and stimulated, it is typical to feel pain in a remote area. For example, a trigger point in the shoulder may cause a headache or neck pain, especially when the point is stimulated.
A trigger point can feel a bit like a bubble on water. You'll notice that if you sink deeply into one, the receiver will often feel a referred pain in a distant area. Trigger points in the shoulders or neck, for example, can cause tension headaches. The intention of compressing a trigger point is to help it release, thereby taking it out of its contraction, to alleviate pain.
PREPARATION FOR MASSAGE
Preparation for massage is all about making sure the receiver is comfortable and able to relax in the environment. The massage provider should also be in the right frame of mind.
CHOOSE A TIME WHEN TOU WILL BOTH BE FREE FROM DISTRACTIONS
And can commit to relaxation and focus.
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SET UP THE ROOM TO BE COMFORTABLE FOR THE RECEIVER
Making sure it is warm enough.
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HAVE ALL OF TOUR SUPPLIES READY
Including a lotion or oil and any aromatherapy oils that you'd like to use.
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HAVE PLENTY OF CUSHIONS OR PILLOWS AROUND FOR SUPPORT
As well as a towel or blanket in case the receiver gets cold.
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DIM THE LIGHTS TO CREATE A RELAXING AND CALM ENVIRONMENT
You may want to use candles or incense to set the mood.
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WASH TOUR HANDS BEFORE BEGINNING And take a moment to center yourself.
Oils and Lotions
There are lots of options for lubrication for your session. Try experimenting with different lotions and oils until you find one that has a comfortable slip and glide.
Oils such as coconut, almond, grapeseed, or jojoba are a good slippery choice for lighter massage work. Water-based lotions or creams are better for deeper work because they are less slippery and can provide more traction, though they dry out more easily.
If you or the receiver has any allergies, make sure to choose a lubrication that doesn't trigger them. Always warm any oil or lotion between your palms by rubbing them briskly together. This is a far more relaxing way to apply lubricant than to squeeze it directly onto the receiver.
Adding a few drops of essential oil to a base oil can be a wonderful way to enhance the massage session. Essential oils should not be used alone, as some may irritate the skin if applied undiluted. Make sure to use a reputable brand, as some oils may include synthetics. Common essential oils used in massage include the following:
Deeply relaxing Effective for stress relief Helps with sleep
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Soothing Promotes sleep Good for deep relaxation
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Refreshing Cooling Excellent for headaches Revives tired muscles
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Helps to open up the lungs if the receiver has a Can warm an area
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Helps treat congestion Relieves aching muscles
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Refreshing and uplifting Elevates mood
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Hormone balancing Heart opening
Using heat during a session can add another deep level of relaxation and relief. Try warming up a therapeutic rice pack in the microwave, and carefully applying it at the start of a session (see page 56).
Laying Face Down
A heat pack may be applied to the neck, upper back, lower back, hips, thighs, or calves.
Laying Face Up
A heat pack can feel good underneath the neck, under the lower back, or on the abdomen for cramp relief.
There are certain situations in which massage should be avoided, including:
Do not massage areas of swelling, inflammation, or acute pain, or where there are varicose veins, open cuts or sores, or tumors or lumps.
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Do not massage if the receiver has any signs of illness, such as fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, or is feeling generally unwell.
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Avoid massage on any area of infectious skin conditions that may spread, including herpes or scabies.
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Ask the receiver if they have any areas of bruising or pain, any allergies, and any history of injuries.
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Do not work on anyone if they are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or medication (such as pain medication) that compromises their ability to feel. Do not apply these techniques during pregnancy. Please see a practitioner who specializes in prenatal massage during that time.
Make sure to always get informed consent before touching any area of the receiver and, should they feel uncomfortable or in pain, immediately stop what you're doing. Massage should always feel like "delicious pain," not scary pain.
Communicating before, during, and after your session is incredibly important. The receiver should feel comfortable communicating their desires, boundaries, and needs, and should also feel safe in the knowledge that you will respond accordingly.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Press Here! Massage for Beginners"
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