While some people think of massage as a luxury, we at Nightingale Apothecary & Healing Arts believe it to be a necessary component to one's wellness plan. Massage therapy is manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being. There are dozens of types of massage therapy methods (also called modalities). We offer several, including Swedish, Deep Tissue, Reflexology, Hot Stone Therapy, and Ayurvedic Massage (Abhyanga).
Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, massage therapy is used for physical, as well as emotional and spiritual health.
Please bring a warm hat in the winter months when you come in for your massage as oils are used on the head.
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.
A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin-a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes, white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.
Swedish Massage Techniques
Additional Swedish massage techniques include circular pressure applied by the hands and palms, firm kneading, percussion-like tapping, bending and stretching. Before and during your Swedish massage session, communication is encouraged with your professional massage therapist so that your massage is customized to your specific needs.
Deep tissue massage therapy is similar to Swedish massage, but the deeper pressure is beneficial in releasing chronic muscle tension. The focus is on the deepest layers of muscle tissue, tendons and fascia (the protective layer surrounding muscles, bones and joints).
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that people's blood pressure fell after a single 45 to 60 minute deep tissue massage. Additionally, a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that massage modalities like deep tissue reduce stress hormone levels and heart rate while boosting mood and relaxation by triggering the release of oxytocin and serotonin.
Please talk with your professional massage therapist to see if a deep tissue massage therapy would be beneficial for you.
Foot Reflexology massage can be a deeply relaxing and therapeutic modality for those suffering from plantar fasciitis, ankle injuries or even everyday work and play. Your massage therapist will apply traditional Swedish and sports massage techniques to the foot, calf and upper leg. This will not only help relieve toe pain, ankle pain, plantar fasciitis and common forms of arthritis, but can also decrease stress and anxiety in the entire body. In addition, a variety of stretches can be beneficial. With pain and sensitivity in the foot, heel and calf areas, be sure to communicate your pain levels with your massage therapist during your treatment. It is also a good idea to rest after receiving the reflexology massage.
If you enjoy the therapeutic benefits of foot Reflexology massage, you should know that the benefits are compounded when utilized as a frequent therapy. The more you go, the healthier you feel.
Hot stone massage is a natural therapy in which warmed stones are positioned on parts of the client's body of to maximize the therapeutic benefit. It is a wonderful treatment any time of year. The stones used are typically river rocks or other very smooth-surfaced stones made of basalt. These stones are heated in sanitizing water before use. The high iron content in basalt helps the stones retain heat during the massage. Hot stone massages are beneficial on both physical and psychological levels. Always check with your doctor before getting a hot stone massage; individuals with certain conditions--including pregnant women and people with high blood pressure--are advised to avoid this type of therapy. Benefits include muscle relaxation and pain relief.
Abhyanga is an ancient Indian Ayurvedic oil massage therapy for healing and detoxifying Body, Mind and Spirit. This ayurvedic detox and stress reduction therapy is performed with herbal oils. It incorporates an aromatic combination of oils prepared with herbs warmed and blended to your Dosha type. A variety of Ayurvedic techniques is applied to work along the energy channels of your body in a synchronized manner to restore the flow of vital energy, Prana, where it has become blocked. Lymphatic stimulation with Ayurvedic herbal oils help squeeze out toxic accumulation from channels. Abhyanga oil massage initiates deep healing within cells. Hence, it is one of the most popular therapies in Ayurveda bodywork treatments.
Abhyanga includes Indian scalp and head oil massage, neck and shoulder oil massage, feet and legs oil massage,
hands and palm oil massage, back massage and belly massage with oils. The session ends with warm towels to assist the body in absorbing the herbal oils more deeply.