Glossary of Terms
We use a range of techniques and methods in our individualised treatment approach. Sometimes the terms referred to by Massage Therapists can be confusing - what do they all mean?! We've compiled this glossary to help you understand the various techniques and when they might be applied.
Deep Tissue Massage
Techniques that utilise deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia. These techniques require advanced training and a thorough understanding of anatomy and physiology. The muscles must be relaxed in order to effectively perform deep-tissue massage, otherwise tight surface muscles prevent the practitioner from reaching deeper musculature. It helps with chronic muscular pain and injury rehabilitation and reduces inflammation-related pain caused by arthritis and tendinitis. It is generally integrated with other massage techniques.
Developed by Canadian Physiotherapist and Manual Therapist, Diane Jacobs in the mid 2000s. Dermo = skin, neuro = nerves, modulation = change. DNM is a structured, interactive approach to manual therapy that considers the nervous system of the patient from skin cell to sense of self. Techniques are slow, light, kind, intelligent, responsive and effective. Positioning of limbs and trunk affects deeper nerve trunks (by shortening and widening their container), and is combined with skin stretch directed toward cutaneous fields of nerves that branch outward into skin (which may draw neural structure further through its container).
Kinesiotaping is a taping technique that provides support and stability to muscles and joints, helping to facilitate the body's natural healing process. It can be used to increase or decrease muscle tone, support joint function, and reduce pain and swelling. Useful for conditions such as plantar fasciitis, shoulder pain, tennis elbow, low back strain, knee pain and bruising, to name a few.
Massage is the intentional and systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to enhance health and healing. Joint movements and stretching are commonly performed as part of massage. The primary characteristics of massage are touch and movement. The massage system may include, but is not limited to, such techniques as, stroking, kneading, gliding, percussion, friction, vibration, compression, passive or active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement; effleurage (either firm or light soothing, stroking movement, without dragging the skin, using either padded parts of fingertips or palms); petrissage (lifting or picking up muscles and rolling the folds of skin); or tapotement (striking with the side of the hand, usually with partly flexed fingers, rhythmic movements with fingers or short rapid movements of sides of the hand). The purpose of the practice of massage is to enhance the general health and well-being of the recipient. Massage does not include the diagnosis of a specific pathology, the prescription of drugs or controlled substances, spinal manipulation or those acts of physical therapy that are outside the scope of massage therapy.
Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
Relaxation techniques, meditation, and easy stretching exercises are combined to allow the client to become mindful in order to access inner sources of power. By being fully mindful and awake in life, clients may cope more effectively with stress and illness.
Joint mobilisation techniques help increase range of motion. This technique only takes the joint to its limited range of motion and no further. Chiropractic joint mobilisations take the joint beyond its range of motion; which isn't in a massage therapist's scope of practice.
Soft tissue mobilisation (STM) aims to break up inelastic or fibrous muscle tissue (called 'myofascial adhesions') such as scar tissue from a back injury, move tissue fluids, and relax muscle tension. This procedure is commonly applied to the musculature surrounding the spine, and consists of rhythmic stretching and deep pressure. The therapist will localize the area of greatest tissue restriction through layer-by-layer assessment. Once identified, these restrictions can be mobilized with a wide variety of techniques. These techniques often involve placing a traction force on the tight area with an attempt to restore normal texture to tissue and reduce associated pain.
Moist Heat Therapy
Moist heat therapy is the application of moist heat packs to an area to increase blood flow, relax the tissues and increase tissue elasticity. Moist heat can be used to relieve acute pain or relax certain muscle groups in preparation for deeper massage. The heat packs are typically wrapped in several layers of towels in order to prevent burning. They can be applied onto the problem area for up to twenty minutes. This allows sufficient time for muscles to relax.
Muscle Energy Technique (MET)
Muscle energy is a direct, noninvasive manual therapy used to normalize joint dysfunction and increase range of motion. The practitioner evaluates the primary areas of dysfunction in order to place the affected joints in precise positions that enable the client to perform gentle isometric contractions. These directed movements help correct neuromuscular and joint difficulties.
Myofascial Release Therapy (MFR)
Myo means muscle and fascia is the elastic connective tissue wrapped around muscles and other parts of the body. During myofascial release restrictions (stuck areas) are located through visual assessment and palpation, and gentle sustained pressure is then applied in the direction of the restriction to stretch the tissues. The stretching of tissues and the heat imparted by the practitioner's hands are thought to help produce a softer consistency of fascial tissues. Myofascial release is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches.
Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT)
A systematic approach to myofascial treatment that attempts to interrupt the neuromuscular feedback that maintains pain or dysfunction. This comprehensive program of soft-tissue manipulation balances the body's central nervous system with the musculoskeletal system. Based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system initiates and maintains pain, the goal is to help relieve the pain and dysfunction by understanding and alleviating the underlying cause. Neuromuscular therapy can help individuals who experience distortion and biomechanical dysfunction, which is often a symptom of a deeper problem. It is also used to locate and release spasms and hypercontraction in the tissue, eliminate trigger points that cause referred pain, rebuild the strength of injured tissues, assist venous and lymphatic flow, and restore postural alignment, proper biomechanics, and flexibility to the tissues.
Pregnancy massage is the massage of pregnant women (prenatal) and women after giving birth (postpartum). It address the special needs of pregnant women such as discomforts in the low back, shoulders feet and legs. Prenatally, specific techniques can reduce pregnancy discomforts and concerns and enhance the physiological and emotional well-being of both mother and fetus through the pregnancy. Postpartum, massage techniques can rebalance structure, physiology, and emotions of the new mother and may help her to bond with and care for her infant. It is advised that pregnancy massage not be commenced until after the end of the first trimester.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
PNF is a more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted.
PNF stretching was originally developed as a form of rehabilitation, and to that effect it is very effective. It is also excellent for targeting specific muscle groups, and as well as increasing flexibility, it also improves muscular strength.
Relaxation massage is usually a full body or heat, neck and shoulders treatment that uses continual contact with long flowing strokes, gentle kneading and rolling of skin and muscle and rhythmic rocking. Strokes are intended to warm and relax the body and calm the mind. Relaxation massage aims to promote wellbeing, improve sleep, treat anxiety and tension, and enhance a range of systemic body functions such as circulation. It can be ideal for those with hypertension or high blood pressure, anxiety or distress, those who have difficulty sleeping, to increase clarity for performance and more. Relaxation massage has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which in high levels can contribute to sleep deprivation, anxiety and depression.
Remedial massage is defined as “the systematic assessment and treatment of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues of the body to assist in rehabilitation, pain and injury management.” A remedial treatment focuses on a specific area of the body that is producing pain or not performing correctly. The main aims of the treatment are to reduce pain, increase the range of motion and correct postural abnormalities.
Remedial massage treatment employs massage techniques designed to treat both deep and superficial tissues, not dissimilar to those used in sports massage.
Sports massage is designed to treat and prevent injuries, enhance athletic performance, flexibility and recovery. Massage therapists blend classic Swedish strokes with such methods as compression, pressure-point therapy, cross-fiber friction, joint mobilization, hydrotherapy and cryotherapy (ice massage) to meet the special needs of high-level performers and fitness enthusiasts. There are four contexts in which sports massage can be useful to an athlete: pre-event, post-event, injury treatment and maintenance. Pre-event massage is delivered at the performance site, usually with the athlete fully clothed. Fast-paced and stimulating, it helps to establish blood flow and to warm up muscles. During the massage, the athlete generally focuses on visualizing the upcoming event. Post-event massage is also delivered on site, through the clothes. The intent here is to calm the nervous system and begin the process of flushing metabolic waste products out of the body. Post-event massage can reduce recovery time, enabling an athlete to resume training much sooner than rest alone would allow. When an athlete sustains an injury, skillful massage therapy can often speed and improve the quality of healing.
One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. It involves manipulations on the muscles and connective tissues of the body for the purpose of relaxation, rehabilitation or health maintenance. There are five basic strokes - effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement (or percussion) and vibration. All are performed flowing toward the heart with the application of oil, to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury.
Based on the discoveries of Drs. Janet Travell and David Simons in which they found the causal relationship between chronic pain and its source, myofascial trigger point therapy is used to relieve muscular pain and dysfunction through ischemic compression to individual areas of hypersensitivity in muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia. These points are defined as localized areas in which the muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure on these points can send referred pain to other specific parts of the body.