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Massage and Massage Styles

Posted by Eamonn Brady on

Famous Greek Physician Hippocrates is considered one of the pioneers of modern medicine; he had a high regard for massage, and considered it one of the arts which a well-rounded physician should be familiar. Hippocrates cautioned that a real proficiency in this art doesn't come quickly, but rather, with lots of hands-on experience. 


Modern medicine often underestimates the power of massage both emotionally and physically. Massage therapy means many things to many people. A recently published article identifies more than 80 different styles of massage, many of which have been developed in the past 30 years. Below is a brief overview of massage styles offered by Whelehans Pharmacy’s resident Chinese Medicine Practitioner Eddie Eddie.


Swedish Massage


This is the most common style of massage practised in Ireland. Swedish massage is based on the western concepts of anatomy and physiology as opposed to energy work that is more common in Asian-style massage, such as Tui Na. This is a gentle, relaxing massage that is the foundation for most other types of western massage, including sports and aromatherapy massage. Good for – introduction to massage, stress relief and relaxation.


Massage with the use of Herbal Poultices
A Poultice is a blend of mud, clay, wax or other base material with medicinal herbs which is heated and applied to the body. The usage of poultices dates back to ancient times. Through the years the technique has been honed and evolved to utilise the best materials and to deliver the best medicinal effect. While it may appear similar to the use of mud or clay in a spa setting; a herbal poultice is different in that it is done specifically for medical effect rather than cosmetic reasons. Herbal poultices are used widespread in China and can be found in most hospitals. A poultice is a unique drug delivery system. The heat opens the pores of the skin which allows the herbal medicine to diffuse through the skin and then into the bloodstream via the local capillaries. This technique avoids any drug allergy effects and bypasses complications from medication needing to pass through the digestive tract. Poultice therapy is that it can be applied virtually anywhere on the body and different herbal formulas can be used to treat a variety of conditions. Good for - increasing the flow of blood to an injury, relaxing tense muscles, soothing inflamed tissues, or drawing toxins from an infected area.


Deep Tissue massage


Deep tissue massage is a therapeutic massage where deep pressure is applied to muscles and/or connective tissue in order to correct issues such as muscle strains from sporting activity. This is not a relaxing massage, and many people can be slightly sore for a day or two afterwards due to lactic acid being flushed from their muscles. For the relief of chronic knots and tension built up over a lifetime, an integrated program that includes exercise, work on your posture and relaxation techniques often produces the best results. Good for - sports injuries, breaking down scar tissue, chronically tight and painful muscles.


Trigger Point Massage
A trigger point is a tight area within muscle tissue that causes pain in other parts of the body, for example a trigger point in the back, may produce referred pain in the neck.


Trigger point massage focuses on specific areas of the body, rather than massaging the whole body. In this technique deep pressure is applied to specific points within a muscle in order to allow it to relax. Deep tissue and trigger point massages are very similar. The main difference is that deep tissue massage uses various traditional massage techniques to work the tissue, whereas trigger point massage is literally looking to manipulate or press on that one point that releases the tension in a muscle, thus deactivating the trigger point and stopping the pain. Good for- muscular aches that conventional massage doesn’t resolve (often the muscles in the painful area are not tight).


Myofascial Release
Fascia is a thin, tough, elastic type of connective tissue that wraps most structures within the human body, including muscle. Fascia supports and protects these structures. Fascia is normally pliable allowing for normal movement while providing support. Injury or tension resulting from repetitive motion or poor posture can result in the fascia and muscles it connects to tensing up. Pain or soreness caused by fascial restriction typically wont show on a CAT Scan, MRI or X- Ray and many people can suffer unnecessary as a result. Myofascial release is a soft tissue therapy for the treatment of skeletal muscle pain or immobility. This is not typically a deep massage as myofascial release uses stretching movements and sustained pressure to loosen myofascial restrictions. Good for – aches and pains of an unspecific nature.


Tui Na Massage
Tui Na has developed continuously in China for over 5000 years. Tui Na and acupuncture use the same meridians and points and they are both based in traditional Chinese medicine for diagnosis: seeing, touching, palpating and questioning. Many of the techniques used in this massage resemble western massage including gliding, kneading, vibration, tapping, friction, pulling, rolling, pressing and shaking. It is the use of acupuncture points and meridians combined with traditional diagnostic skills that make it unique. One of the many advantages of Tui Na is that it can be taught to a patient as a remedial therapy to


perform daily as a routine to support the healing process. In China, Tui Na is subdivided into specialized treatment for, orthopedics, traumatology, rehabilitation, sports medicine, etc.


Acupuncture and Chinese medicine Clinic at Whelehans Pharmacy
Eddie Dowd (BSc Ac, BSc CHM, Dip Tuina, MATCMI) runs Mullingar Chinese Medicine and Massage Therapy Clinic at Whelehans Pharmacy. Call 083 1229363 or email to book or to enquire. Clinics are Monday 8:30am-2pm and Thursday 8:30am to 6pm. Thanks to Eddie for help with this article.


Disclaimer: Chinese or traditional medicine should NOT be seen as an alternative to assessment and treatment from your GP or other healthcare professional. Chinese medicine can however compliment conventional medicine.
For comprehensive and free health advice and information call in to Whelehans, log on to or dial 04493 34591.


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