Massage Chairs Blog

Archive for March 2010

The varieties of massage available in massage chairs today come from a diverse mix of cultures and styles. Eastern cultures view the human body as a network of energy channels or centers. An obstruction or unevenness in the meridians or chakras can cause a variety of health problems. While Eastern massage techniques focus on the energy systems of the body, Western massage concentrates on the overall physical body.

The Eastern View

Western massage techniques available in a massage chair are based on the anatomy, pathology, and physiology of the body. The Western tradition views the body as a physical entity that can potentially break down and become physically diseased. By focusing on the specific parts of the human anatomy, Western massage styles endeavor to repair the entire body as a combination of its parts. If you venture into a Western Doctor’s office, you will likely find a lot of diagrams and charts depicting the various parts of the human body: organs, muscles, bones, and systems.

Western Massage Techniques available in most Massage Chairs

Developed by Henri Peter Ling at the University of Stockholm in the 1810s, this technique utilizes long, smooth strokes. The Swedish technique also employs deep rubbing action too.

The basic strokes of this style are: 1. Long strokes, 2. Deep kneading strokes, 3. Hard pressure, slow jabbing movements, and 4. Fast prodding movements. For people who suffer from painful or frequent muscle spasms, this style of massage can provide a significant amount of relief. By helping muscles relax, Swedish massage can help energize the entire body. This technique helps stretch connective tissue to release muscles constriction and spasm, which may have previously caused pain.

For chronic muscle spasms, knots (called “adhesions”), and pain that are not taken care of by Swedish massage, a similar technique called Deep Tissue Massage may be helpful. It uses many of the same movements and techniques as Swedish massage, but in a deeper, harder way.The Eastern Tradition

While Western techniques address the body and its specific parts, Eastern techniques address the energy flow of the body and try to restore a healthy balance to the body and mind.

In the Eastern Massage Traditions, the body’s meridians, (energy channels) are stimulated in order to achieve proper balance in the body and mind. That’s why in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the use of Acupuncture is often a part of treatment.Western Massage Styles Available in most Massage Chairs

It employs movements to help open up the body’s energy channels. Pressure is applied to the Chinese acupuncture points on the surface of the body in order to stimulate the flow of energy. The Chinese call the body’s energy “qi.” Shiatsu encourages the flow of energy by manipulating the arms and legs as well.

Acupressure techniques are closely related to Shiatsu. They are also concerned with opening up the body’s energy pathways and centers in order to promote balance throughout the body and mind. By supporting the functioning of the immune system, Acupressure helps the body heal itself.

For the advantages of both Eastern and Western techniques, try a home massage chair.

When used properly, a home massage chair has no negative effects. Unfortunately, some people do experience slight side effects through overuse or improper use of their massage chair.

Potential Negative Effects

· Pain – the pressure used to relieve tension and pain with Shiatsu and deep tissue massage settings may cause some slight residual pain. Nerves or muscles may be slightly irritated through improper use of the Shiatsu or deep tissue massage settings on your home massage chair. Any pain experienced is generally mild and only lasts for a few hours after massage or, in rare cases, a few days, and abates on its own.

· Circulation – if you have circulatory issues, you may want to consult your doctor before beginning a home massage chair or other massage treatment. Especially if you have previously experienced blood clotting or deep vein thrombosis, which may be aggravated by massage.

· Allergies – if you are allergic to leather or other materials, you may experience a slight allergic reaction to your massage chair. If you know you have a pre-existing allergy to the material of your chair, be sure to wear clothing that covers any skin that would otherwise come into contact with the chair. Proper clothing should prevent any allergic reactions.

· Infection – the massage therapy provided by your home massage chair or other forms of massage helps to release enzymes and toxins that have accumulated in your muscles, so it is recommended to drink plenty of water during the day following massage. Water will help flush toxins from the body quicker. If your immune system is impaired for any reason, consult your doctor before starting any massage treatment to avoid infection and other possible complications caused by the release of toxins during massage.

· Skin Fragility or Bruising –if you bruise easily, be sure to use a low or softer pressure option as hard pressure massage can cause bruising.

· Low Blood Sugar – as massage can lower the body’s blood sugar levels, if you are diabetic, consult your doctor before using a massage chair or starting any massage treatment program.

· Fatigue – a study by the National University of Health Sciences (Illinois) found that approximately 1% of their test group experienced fatigue for 24 hours or less

· Headache – the same study found that about 1% of test subjects likewise had a headache within 12 hours after their massage treatment, but those experiencing headaches stated that their headaches went away within 24 hours or less as well

The National University of Health Sciences also found that test subjects experienced positive side effects after their massage including:

· Improved circulatory function (over 3% of test subjects)

· Improved respiratory function (over 3% of test subjects)

· Improved digestion (5.5% of test subjects)

· And nearly 10% of test subjects reported an improvement in mood and well-being

· Overall: 23% of test subjects experienced one or more positive changes unrelated to their primary health complaint before massage