|Manual Therapies Lend a Healing Hand
For centuries people have practiced the techniques and experienced the
physical benefits of manual therapies. Manual therapies include any therapy in
which the practitioner works with his or her hands to improve a person's
muscular or skeletal functions. Through manual therapy people have experienced
relief from back pain, headaches, and stress and anxiety, among other ailments.
While an increasing number of Americans are familiar with the basics of massage
therapy, there are numerous variations. These include osteopathic manipulation,
reflexology, lymphatic massage, Asian massage, and rolfing. The following is a
brief overview of these therapies.
Asian massage (Tui na and shiatsu). Both tui na and shiatsu are
believed to help heal the whole body in addition to localized areas. Tui na is a
deep tissue massage and manipulation often used to treat arthritis and
rheumatic pains, promote circulation, and restore weak or damaged nerves.
Shiatsu uses gentle finger and hand pressure on acupuncture points and, similar
to acupuncture, is used to treat gastrointestinal disturbances, muscle and nerve
ailments, bone and joint ailments, respiratory ailments, female reproductive
system ailments, and other conditions, such as addiction, headaches, and
Lymphatic massage. Practitioners of this type of manual therapy use a
very light, pulsing touch along the body's lymph vessels. Their touch
works to stimulate lymphatic circulation and thereby help the body eliminate
toxins. This kind of massage is often used to treat sprains, bruises,
muscular spasms due to chronic tension or overuse, and swelling after
Massage therapy. Most therapists rely on a variety of techniques,
ranging from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles to targeted therapy
concentrating on specific muscles. It's the most widely used muscular therapy
and has been clinically proven to relieve muscle tension and reduce stress.
Certified therapists complete an intensive training program, take national board
examinations, and are licensed or registered in many states.
Osteopathic manipulation. This type of therapy uses a wide range of
manipulative techniques to treat musculoskeletal conditions such as back pain,
neck pain, joint pain, and headaches. It is also used for other conditions, such
as sinus pain and digestive difficulties, as a complement to other treatments.
Osteopathy holds that the structural integrity of the whole body is the key to
good health. This integrity is easily compromised by things like muscle tension
due to anxiety or misaligned bones due to sports injuries. Doctors of Osteopathy
(D.O.s) receive conventional medical training as well as training in osteopathic
Reflexology. In this form of manual therapy, all parts of the body are
believed to have a direct connection to a precise area on the foot, hand, or
ear. Specialized massage of these areas is used to return normal function to the
associated parts of the body. Many massage therapists have some training in
Rolfing. This relatively new technique primarily relies on deep
massage of the muscles and connective tissues to help the body achieve
"structural balance." Practitioners of rolfing believe that structural balance
in the body is critical for good health; a balanced body is able to conserve
energy, release tension, move more easily, and function better neurologically.
Many practitioners complete hundreds of hours of graduate-level training at the
Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado to receive their certification.
Chronic: refers to an illness or disease that develops slowly and is
persistent (often lifelong)
Lymph vessels: The lymphatic vessels work to remove waste products,
bacteria, and foreign substances from bodily tissues. The lymphatic vessel
system is activated in part by skeletal muscle contractions and plays an
important role in intestinal and immune system function.
Rheumatic: relating to rheumatism, which is a condition characterized
by inflammation or pain in the muscles, joints, or fibrous tissue
Toxins: bacteria, poisons, fats, coal dust, dyes, and dead cells and
cells parts, or other material that can lead to disease if they are not removed
from the body
The following sources are available to help you learn more and locate a
practitioner near you:
Asian massage: Contact the American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association at
Lymphatic massage: Contact NAVALT at 419-729-3258.
Massage therapy: Contact American Massage Therapy Association at 847-864-0123
or visit their Web site at www.amtamassage.org.
Osteopathic manipulation: Contact American Academy of Osteopathy at
317-879-1881 or visit their Web site at www.aao.medguide.net. OR: Contact the
American Osteopathic Association at 800-621-1773 or visit their Web site at
Reflexology: Contact the American Reflexology Certification Board at
Rolfing: Contact the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration at 800-530-8875
or visit their Web site at www.rolf.org.
Bodywork: What Type of Massage to Get—And How to
Make the Most of It by Thomas Claire (Quill 1996)
The Bodywork and Massage Sourcebook by Andrew S. Levine and Valerine
Levine (Lowell House 1999)
Is Your Body Trying to Tell You Something? Why It is Wise to Listen to
Your Body and How Massage and Body Work Can Help by Carmen Renee Berry
(Pagemill Press 1997)
|Review Date: December 1999|
|Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial|
Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc
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