Specific Massage Techniques
used by Kneaded Energy's Licensed Massage Therapists
Each day we receive phone calls asking what types of massage we provide at Kneaded Energy. As easy as that question sounds to ask, it is more difficult to answer. At Kneaded Energy, our #1 goal is to listen to what our clients are requesting and devise a massage specific to that need. We listen to your specific need, aches, pains and physical problems. We assess your movements and posture, we investigate your repetitive movements and injuries and then we use our experience and knowledge to combine a variety of modalities to address your specific need and begin to relieve your pain. Our approach is not cookie cutter. And therefore we don't charge by a modality applied, we charge only by time requested. Our #1 intention is to get the contracted muscles to release and relax, offering you a sense of balance and relief.
Here is a list of "types of massage" you have heard of or been recommended. In the case of similar modalities, all our therapists have training in one specific type or the other, which can achieve the same results:
Swedish Massage - is the most commonly practiced type of massage and the 1st learned in massage therapy school. During Swedish massage, massage therapists use massage oils to facilitate smooth, gliding strokes called effleurage. Other classic Swedish massage moves include petrissage or kneading, friction, stretching and sometimes tapping (tapotement). Swedish massage uses firm but gentle pressure to promote relaxation, ease muscle tension and create other health benefits. Therapists will often use these techniques as a way to warm muscle tissue before adding additional techniques.
Deep Tissue Massage - is a type of massage therapy that focuses on realigning deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. It is especially helpful for chronically tense and contracted areas such as stiff necks, low back tightness, and sore shoulders. Basic massage strokes (effleurage, petrissage, friction, and stretching) are used, but the movement is slower and the pressure is deeper and concentrated on areas of tension and pain. Petrissage in deep tissue massage, is focused on lifting and rubbing the belly of the muscle to stimulate circulation and relaxation and the release of toxins.
Myofascial Release - is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat dysfunction, accompanying pain and restriction of motion. This is accomplished by relaxing contracted muscles using slow deep effleurage, petrissage and compression. Increasing circulation, venous and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia.
Neuromuscular Massage - By definition, NMT is the utilization of static pressure (compression) on specific myofascial points (trigger points) to relieve pain. This technique manipulates the soft tissue of the body (muscles, tendons and connective tissue) using deep effleurage, petrissage, compression, and friction to balance the central nervous system. In a healthy individual, nerves transmit impulses (which are responsible for every movement, function and thought) to the body very slowly. The therapist is educated in kinesiology, biomechanics and the physiology of the nervous system and its effect on the muscular and skeletal systems. Injury, trauma, postural distortion or stress cause nerves to speed up their transmission, inhibiting equilibrium and making the body vulnerable to pain and dysfunction. NMT addresses 5 elements that cause pain: 1)Lack of blood supply to soft tissues causing hypersensitivity, 2)Highly irritated trigger points in muscles which refer pain to other parts of the body, 3)Pressure and nerve compression or entrapment, 4) Postural imbalance or distortion resulting from the movement of the body off the longitudinal and horizontal planes. 5) Biomechanical Dysfunction or imbalance of the musculoskeletal system resulting in faulty movement patterns (i.e., poor lifting habits, bad mechanics in a golf swing of tennis stroke, computer keyboarding).
Sports Massage - designed for athletes, but is useful for anyone with chronic pain, injury or range-of-motion issues. Sports massage was originally developed to help athletes prepare their bodies for optimal performance, recover after a big event, or function well during training. Sports massage emphasizes prevention and healing of injuries to the muscles and tendons. The massage therapist generally concentrates on a specific problem area using basic massage strokes (effleurage, petrissage, compression, friction, tapotement and stretching) that stimulates circulation of blood and lymph fluids, breaks down adhesions (knots in the muscles) and increases range of motion. For athletes we can create a training protocol that addresses: 1) Pre-event, 2) Post-event, 3) Restorative massage or 4) Rehabilitative massage.
Trigger Point Therapy - described as hyperirritable spots or referred pain spots in skeletal muscles that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers. Therapists may use myotherapy (deep pressure, deep effleurage and petrissage massage or tapotement), mechanical vibration, pulsed pressure, ischemic compression, "cool-and-stretch" and stretching techniques that invoke reciprocal inhibition within the musculoskeletal system. Practitioners use elbows, feet or various tools to direct pressure directly upon the trigger point, to save their hands. A successful treatment protocol relies on identifying trigger points, resolving them and, if all trigger points have been deactivated, elongating the structures affected along their natural range of motion and length. In the case of muscles, which is where most treatment occurs, this involves stretching the muscle using combinations of passive, active, active isolation (AIS) release, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching to be effective. Fascia, the silver skin surrounding muscles should also be treated, possibly with myofascial release, to elongate and resolve strain patterns, otherwise muscles will simply be returned to positions where trigger points are likely to re-develop.
Muscular-Skeletal Alignment Technique©- (MAT) is a type of bodywork which blends the principles of osteopathy and structural integration to relieve chronic pain, and to reduce the potential for the emergence of pain which could become chronic over time. This technique is often integrated into a regular massage session and can also be used alone to treat systemic problems. Orthopedic Massage - focused on treating painful conditions which affect the soft tissues of the body. The massage therapist typically integrates a range of techniques to treat these conditions, ideally adapting his or her style for each client, as every person's body is slightly different. Orthopedic massage involves therapeutic assessment, manipulation and movement of locomotor soft tissue to reduce pain and dysfunction. Restoring structural balance throughout the body allows us to focus on both prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal dysfunctions. The therapist attempts to release flexed muscles with either active or passive release techniques, help to stretch shortened muscles and tendons, and decompress joints. The goal is to normalize the soft tissues of the body, both to treat specific conditions and to keep clients generally healthy and fit.
Reflexology - the underlying theory behind reflexology is that there are "reflex" areas on the feet and hands that correspond to specific organs, glands, and other parts of the body. It is out of the scope of practice for massage therapists in North Carolina to diagnose or insinuate what these tender areas on the feet or hands might represent. We can address all these areas and increase blood flow throughout the body.
Prenatal Massage - a natural, touch therapy treatment aimed at alleviating symptoms an expectant mom will experience such as increased weight, shifting posture, and adjusting hormone levels.
Hot Stone Massage - a variation on classic massage therapy. The hot stones are usually made of basalt, a type of rock that is rich in iron, so they retain heat. River rocks are normally used because they are so smooth - they have been smoothed over time by the river's current. The stones are immersed in water and heated in an electric heating device until they are within a certain temperature range. The stones may be placed at specific points on the back, in the palms of the hand, or between the toes. The heat warms and relaxes the muscles. The warmth of the hot stones improves circulation and calms the nervous system.
Aromatherapy Massage - massage therapy using a highly concentrated plant oil, called essential oils, added to the massage oil or lotion. Our nostrils are attached to a part of the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system controls emotions and influences the nervous system and hormones. When you inhale essential oil molecules, messages are transmitted to the limbic system and affect heart rate, stress level, blood pressure, breathing, memory, digestion, and the immune system. We have an aromatherapy trained therapist on staff who evaluates each request to determine if essential oils can be used.
Chair Massage - utilizing a uniquely manufactured chair, massage can be reproduced with the client sitting and fully clothed.
Reiki and other energywork is sometimes incorporated into a massage session. Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is administered by "laying on hands" without touching and is based on the idea that an unseen "life force energy" flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If one's "life force energy" is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.
Ashiatsu Massage - a type of massage therapy in which the therapist walks on the client's back, using bars and other props for support to vary pressure and weight. This modality has its roots in Asia, but today, several different versions of Ashiatsu massage are practiced around the world. Learning to perform Ashiatsu massage does require advanced training, because massage schools concentrate their curriculm in teaching the student basics of massage and less qualified attempt to use the Ashiatsu technique could cause damage to the client's back. The Ashiatsu trained therapist still uses some of the same basic massage strokes of effleurage, compression, friction, but with the feet.
Thai Massage - also called Thai yoga massage. The therapist uses the weight of his or her body, hands, knees, legs, and feet to move you into a series of yoga-like stretches. Many people say Thai massage is like doing yoga without any work and can be both relaxing and energizing. Muscle compression, joint mobilization, and acupressure are also used during treatment. Thai massage is usually done on a padded mat on the floor.
No oil is applied, and you remain fully dressed, although you are asked to wear loose comfortable clothing.
Sidelying Massage - massage for people who are not capable of lying on their stomach, face down or lying flat on their back.
PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) is a type of bodywork that involves a combination of active or passive stretching and isometric contractions to encourage flexibility and coordination throughout the limb's entire range of motion. Stretching the muscle using combinations of passive, active, active isolation (AIS) release, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) stretching to be effective. The basic premise is simple, just not easy. Shorten the tissue, apply a contact tension and lengthen the tissue, actively or passively to make it slide relative to the adjacent tissue. The therapist develops a "feel" for the tissues and their texture, tension and movement and come to understand and evaluate the movement of each tissue relative to the one next to it.
Medical Massage - The term was created by massage therapist, Pete Spairring Owner of Cedar River Medical Massage as massage that is outcome based. All of Kneaded Energy's massage is outcome based, determined by the client. Some people in the industry want to say that medical massage is massage that a patient presents with a physician's diagnosis and sometimes we do get a physician's diagnosis, however, health insurance rarely covers massage therapy by a licensed massage therapist. The term medical massage is currently a hot topic in the industry without agreement or understanding of a common definition.PLEASE REMEMBER: Pain and/or stress that you have been experiencing for days, months or even years, will most likely require more than one session to relieve or maintain relief.
We do have a "Kneaded Energy Massage" that all our therapists learn when joining our team, but this massage is more about establishing a basic standard of theory for SOAP note and for movement around the table that 1) allows for time management standards, 2) gives our clients the ability to recognize a similar flow and 3) establish a basic standard from which to move from with each consecutive massage session.
By the time our therapists graduate from an accredited school, they have been exposed to 8-10 different techniques and with as few as 3 years of experience under their belt, they have also completed another 50-100 hours of continuing education credit which is typically spent learning different modalities and techniques. In addition to this training, Kneaded Energy is in the process of introducing an internal training program that will "certify" each therapist with each modality in a program that assures consistent training and guarantees competency.
Note: To complicate the situation further, there really aren't "new" techniques entering the industry, per se, BUT, there are teaching practitioners who are "copyrighting" new terms and applying same techniques. Where we might call one thing "structural integration", another practitioner might call their technique "postural integration", or what Ida Rolf might call it something completely different and copyrighted. The same is true for all the pin and stretch, AIS, PNF, active and passive release methods.
For a point of reference, the definition of Massage Therapy in North Carolina is legally defined as: Systems of activity applied to the soft tissues of the human body for therapeutic, educational, or relaxation purposes. The application may include: 1) Pressure (compression), friction, stroking (effleurage), rocking, kneading (petrissage), percussion (tapotement), or passive or active stretching within the normal anatomical range of movement. 2) Complementary methods, including the external application of water, heat, cold, lubricants, and other topical preparations. 3) The use of mechanical devices that mimic or enhance actions that may possibly be done by the hands.