Introduction to Massage

Massage Information and Overview

Are you curious to find out what massage is? Do you want to know how it can help you? TAB Massage and Fitness wants to make sure you are fully educated and prepared when you arrive for your first session. Below is a brief overview of what massage and bodywork is and how it has evolved into the alternative medical practices it is today.

Introduction to Massage:

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, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.

So What Is It Exactly?

Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body. Specifically:


The application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. The many variations of massage account for several different techniques.


Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement, and/or repatterning to affect structural changes to the body.


Meaning of the body‚ many times this term is used to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach as distinguished from a physiology-only or environmental perspective.
There are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin. Click here for more information on what to expect.


Active Release Technique (A.R.T.), developed by Dr. Michael Leahy, DC, CCSP, is a system designed to treat soft tissue (muscles, tendons & ligaments) dysfunction. The basic principles of A.R.T are easy to understand although very difficult to perform. In order to treat the soft tissue properly, the practitioner must have an extensive background in the field of anatomy and finely tuned palpation skills.

At the risk of over simplifying the technique, the injured or altered structure is shortened, and a soft contact is used just distal to the injured area where tension is developed into the lesion. While the contact tension is maintained, the altered structure is lengthened using active motion or in some cases passive motion. During this motion, the lesion is palpated and the contact is changed accordingly. This will allow the practitioner to concentrate the tension on the appropriate tissue.

When utilized properly, Active Release Techniques will achieve the following:
  • Restore motion of muscles and joints
  • Release entrapped nerves,vasculature and lymphatics
  • Reestablish optimal texture, strength and function of soft tissue
Deep tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity (such as athletes), and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is not uncommon for receivers of deep tissue massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly.
Myofascial release refers to the manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, integument, and muscles with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and equilibrioception. Myofascial release usually involves applying shear compression or tension in various directions, or by skin rolling.
Neuromuscular therapy (NMT) is a significant methodology for assessing, treating and preventing soft tissue injuries and chronic pain. NMT, a series of manual treatment protocols based on the practitioner’s skill, anatomy knowledge and precise palpatory application, has found its home, not only in the treatment rooms of massage therapy, but also in occupational and physical therapy, nursing, chiropractic, osteopathic and physical medicine clinics worldwide.
A gentle method of manipulating the body's craniosacral system (consisting of thin membranes and cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord) in an attempt to improve the function of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress and enhance health and resistance to disease.
An integration of techniques including basic Swedish massage, aromatherapy, reflexology, shiatsu, energy balancing, and craniosacral therapy along with other modalities in conjunction with instruction in nutrition, meditation and yoga. The term Myomassology was coined by Irene Gauthier to describe her combined work of Swedish massage, craniosacral therapy, reflexology and body mechanics.
Sometimes confused with pressure point massage, this involves deactivating trigger points that may cause local pain or refer pain and other sensations, such as headaches, in other parts of the body. Manual pressure, vibration, injection, or other treatment is applied to these points to relieve myofascial pain. Trigger points were first discovered and mapped by Janet G. Travell (president Kennedy's physician) and David Simons. Trigger points have been photomicrographed and measured electrically. These points relate to dysfunction in the myoneural junction, also called neuromuscular junction (NMJ), in muscle, and therefore this modality is different from reflexology, acupressure and pressure point massage.
At optimal health, the relationship between the organs (viscera) and structures of the body (muscles, membranes, fascia and bones) remains stable despite the body’s endless varieties of motion. Healthy organs move in harmony within their surrounding structures.

Problems arise when a trauma or malfunction put the organs out of alignment. An organ that loses its mobility can throw the whole body out of whack, and can cause musculoskeletal pain – such as a pain in the shoulder, neck or back.

Visceral Manipulation is organ-specific fascial mobilization.

Fascia – the connective tissue of the body – surrounds and connects all of our organs to muscles, bones, nerves and other organs. By applying specific, gentle pressure to the abdomen, thorax and pelvic areas, a visceral manipulation practitioner releases tensions in the tissues, restoring natural motion to the kidneys, lungs, liver and other soft tissues. In this way, the practitioner can address ailments ranging from chronic back and neck pain to incontinence and migraines.

Please note:

Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies specifically exclude diagnosis, prescription, manipulation or adjustments of the human skeletal structure, or any other service, procedure or therapy which requires a license to practice orthopedics, physical therapy, podiatry, chiropractic, osteopathy, psychotherapy, acupuncture, or any other profession or branch of medicine.
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