These techniques should not be viewed as apart from general massage movements, but rather as additional skills that may be used to relieve pain and restore function to localised conditions. They may be incorporated into a general body massage or may form part of the routine for a specific part of the body, such as the neck or back. Localised tissue abnormalities may be identified during consultation or during the course of a body massage. The appropriate techniques must then be selected and extra time spent on these areas to bring about improvement.
These techniques are sometimes referred to as bodywork techniques, soft tissue manipulation, neuromuscular treatments etc. They all use pressure and/or stretch manipulations to reduce tension, ease pain and stiffness, and to restore full function. Specific manipulations are used to target the following conditions: increased tension within muscles (hypertension): thickening or fibrous adhesions within the tissues (muscles or connective tissue); contracted fascia; small areas of hypersensitive tissue (known as trigger points); fibrotic or fatty nodules.
The techniques included in this text are neuromuscular stroking technique; myofascial stretch/release techniques; trigger point therapy. Deep effleurage and frictions can also be used, as explained in Chapters 4 and 5 respectively.
The therapist must adopt a sensitive, caring and gentle approach, bearing in mind that these manipulations are aimed at releasing abnormal tension within the muscles. Through reducing and normalising neural (nerve) activity, relieving hypersensitive areas, stretching contracted tissue, realigning fibres, and restoring flexibility and pliability to the tissues, the continuing cycle of pain-tension-more pain is interrupted and normal function is restored. Contra-indications are the same as those for general massage.
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