Body Sense

AUTUMN | 2017

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8 Body Sense CONSTANT CONTACT FROM START TO FINISH When switching between types of massage strokes, or completing one body part and moving to the next, what's important is not only that your massage therapist get from Point A to Point B, but also how they get from Point A to Point B. Fluidity is essential to inviting and maintaining a client's sense of peace, relaxation, and trust. Abrupt beginnings and endings, and the therapist not effectively communicating through touch where they are leaving and going, can cause clients to stay in sympathetic nervous system response (an activated state of being) rather than settling into the parasympathetic (a restful state of being). Constant contact through effleurage is the key, and the quality and application of your therapist's effleurage strokes from the beginning of the session through to the end of the session can greatly affect your experience. INITIAL CONTACT Imagine for a moment that you are beginning to receive a massage. The therapist undrapes your back and immediately begins applying deep, specific, fast, friction-producing strokes. How might that feel to you? Would you feel relaxed and ready to receive? The likely answer is no. There is a purpose for always beginning a session with effleurage. Since effleurage strokes are long and broad, they offer you a sense of wholeness. The entire length of the body part—whether it be your back, arm, or leg—is touched, welcomed, and warmed. How your massage therapist guides your transition from being out in the world doing, to being on a massage table receiving, charts the course for the rest of the session. This initial contact can communicate intent, assist you in relaxing into your body, and suggest a shift from a thinking state to a feeling state. The nervous system is signaled that it is time to rest and receive. For the therapist, this is a great time to assess tissue quality, increase warmth and circulation, and prepare the tissues for deeper, more specific work. Much information can be gathered during this simple stroke. Now that you've learned about effleurage and how it connects your massage experience, here are some other things to consider during a typical Swedish massage session. One of the most commonly taught and well-known massage techniques, Swedish massage is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Five basic strokes, all flowing toward the heart, are used to manipulate the soft tissues of the body. The disrobed client is covered by a sheet, with only the area being worked on exposed. Therapists use a combination of kneading, rolling, vibrational, percussive, and tapping, with the application of oil to reduce friction on the skin. The many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury. 1 Note 1. "Swedish Massage," Glossary of Massage and Bodywork Techniques, www.massagetherapy. com/glossary, accessed September 2017. Swedish Massage Strokes

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