After you have studied this chapter you will be able to:

1. distinguish between the different types of mechanical massage equipment

2. distinguish between the effects produced by the different types of equipment and the various 'heads'

3. select the appropriate massage equipment to suit the needs of the client

4. identify any contra-indications to the treatment

5. treat the client, paying due consideration to maximum efficiency, comfort, safety and hygiene.

Mechanical massage is the manipulation of body tissues using machines. Generally, mechanical massage is used in conjunction with other treatments to relieve muscle tension and muscle pain, to improve the circulation and to improve certain skin conditions. Provided the client is on a reducing diet, the heavier vibrations may help to disperse fatty deposits from specific areas of the body.

Many different types of appliance are manufactured to produce effects similar to those of a manual massage. They vary from the small hand-held percussion and audio-sonic equipment designed to treat small, localised areas, to the large heavy gyratory vibrators used for deeper effects on large areas of the body. Although the effects are similar to those of manual massage, the sensation felt by the client is very different. The treatment is rather impersonal and the use of a machine rather than the touch of hands is not as pleasing to the client.

In practice, most mechanical vibratory treatments should be combined with some manual massage, thus gaining the more personal aspects of manual massage combined with the depth and power of vibratory equipment. Using mechanical massage equipment is certainly less tiring for the therapist than performing a long, vigorous manual massage. The effects produced are similar for all types of massage equipment, but are deeper and greater with the heavier machines. The treatment is very popular with clients, as they feel invigorated and consider that the desired results will be achieved.

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