Last-modified: 25 October 2002
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Section 2 -- Basics of Massage
This posting contains answers to the following questions:
2.1) What is massage? What is bodywork and how do they differ?
2.2) What are some examples of massage and bodywork techniques?
2.3) Where can I read about massage techniques?
2.4) Is massage a sexual technique?
2.5) Could I hurt anyone if I do something wrong?
2.6) What does this technical term mean?
The complete lists of subparts of all questions is in part 0 of
this FAQ list.
Each question begins with `Subject:' on a line of its own. Users
with suitably equipped newsreaders can automatically skip to the start of
the next question, e.g. trn will display the start of the question when you
press ^G (control-G). Of course if your newsreader doesn't do this
automatically, you can still use a search command to find the next question.
To find the answer to question 2.2 search for a line beginning with
`Q2.2)', there will be only one.
Your suggestions for changes to these articles are welcome. Please
see section 0 (entitled Administrivia and Acknowledgements) in the earlier
posting for information about whom to contact and what changes are planned.
The questions are divided into the following general sections.
Questions from each section are answered in articles of their own. A list
of all questions appears in the first article (section 0).
Section 0 Administrivia and Acknowledgements
Section 1 General Questions
Section 2 Basics of Massage
Section 3 Novice Questions
Section 4 Professional Massage
Section 5 Other Sources of Information
Section 2 -- Basics of Massage
Subject: What is massage? What is bodywork and how do the two differ?
Q2.1) Massage includes a number of disciplines which share the use of
pressure, friction and strain upon the muscles and joints of the body for
therapeutic or affectionate physical responses. In the book _Massage: A
Career at your fingertips_ Martin Ashley identifies several types of
massage: massage for preventive general health; massage for relaxation,
pampering or `beautification'; sports massage, massage for pain relief;
rehabilitative massage (for recovery from physical injury); massage as an
adjunct to medical or chiropractic treatment; and massage for personal
psychological transformation. See Section 4.1 for more details about the
The term `bodywork' is often used to refer to therapies that are
often combined and confused with massage, e.g. Shiatsu, Trager, Rolfing,
Polarity and Reflexology. Some of these therapies are described briefly in
question 2.2; there are postings about all of them in the archive (see
Subject: What are some examples of massage, bodywork and related therapies?
The complete lists of subparts of all questions is in part 0 of this FAQ
list. Here is the list of subparts for this question (in no particular
(a) Swedish (b) Shiatsu (c) Reflexology (d) Aromatherapy
(e) On-site (f) Erotic (g) Trigger point (g) Myotherapy
(h) Polarity (i) Myofascial release (j) Craniosacral
(k) Reiki (l) Trager (m) Hakomi (n) Jim Shin Do
(o) Neuromuscular therapy (p) Pfrimmer deep muscle therapy
(q) Rolfing (r) Alexander (s) Feldenkreis (t) Hellerwork
a) Swedish massage (which is a proper name, not a reference to Sweden)
refers to a collection of techniques designed primarily to relax muscles by
applying pressure to them against deeper muscles and bones, and rubbing in
the same direction as the flow of blood returning to the heart. The lymph
system and veins (which carry blood back to the heart) both rely on muscle
action, rather than heart pump pressure, to operate. Many believe it is
safe to apply light pressure in the opposite direction.
Friction is reduced by oil, or lacking that baby powder. Some
practitioners claim benefits from vegetable rather than mineral oil while
others disagree. (See question 3.4 about oil and the `oil.vs.powder' file
in the archive; the archive is the subject of question 5.1.2.) Swedish
massage can relax muscles, increase circulation, remove metabolic waste
products, help the recipient obtain a feeling of connectedness, a better
awareness of their body and the way they use and position it.
The strokes and manipulations of Swedish Massage are each conceived
as having a specific therapeutic benefit. One of the primary goals of
Swedish Massage is to speed venous return from the extremities. Swedish
Massage shortens recovery time from muscular strain by flushing the tissue
of lactic acid, uric acid and other metabolic wastes. It improves
circulation without increasing heart load. It stretches the ligaments and
tendons, keeping them supple. Swedish Massage also stimulates the skin and
nervous system while at the same time relaxing the nerves themselves. As
it can help reduce emotional and physical stress it is often recommended as
part of a regular programme for stress management. It also has specific
clinical uses in a medical or remedial therapy.
b) Shiatsu, on the other hand, is a system based on the body's energy
meridians. Shiatsu massages are normally done fully clothed and involve
pressing points on the body and stretching and opening of the energy
meridians. Shiatsu is somewhat related to acupuncture, which is a form of
anaesthesia and therapy used in Chinese hospitals for surgery. Its
proponents view it as a form of treatment alternative to medicine or
surgery. (Toru Namikoshi's Complete Book of Shiatsu Therapy -- published
by Japan Pubns., Inc. with ISBN 0-87040-461-x in 1981 -- claims to be the
definitive work; Zen Shiatsu by Shizuto Masunaga & Wataru Ohashi, also
published by Japan Publications Inc, ISBN 0-87040-394-x is also recommended
in the archive.) Question 5.2.3 has references to WWW resources
dealing with Shiatsu.
c) [This subsection, about Reflexology, is largely based on notes
provided by Reflexology expert and author Kevin Kunz. He notes that there
are significant differences between foot massage and Reflexology. Any
errors are the fault of the FAQL maintainer and no one else.]
Reflexology is based on the belief that there are places on the
feet (and hands) that correspond to parts of the body, e.g. internal organs
and joints. Manipulating those parts of the feet (or hands) can have
direct effects on corresponding parts of the body. Some proponents claim
the ability to diagnose and treat illnesses of these organs by appropriate
I haven't seen a convincing explanation of why this is supposed to
work but many people cite Reflexology as an excellent technique for
holistic assessment and adjunct to other therapies. Although Reflexology
is often discussed as part of Zone Therapy this isn't completely accurate.
The archive contains some discussion and references to books about
According to Reflexology teacher Terry Norman <firstname.lastname@example.org>:
a currently accepted theory in the West is that Reflexology works
by way of the neuro-reflex points found in the feet & hands. When
organs don't function normally the neural signals along the
network change patterns. Such changes can be detected and
monitored through the reflex points. Chemistry at these points
sometimes changes as well -- hard painful spots (said to be uric
acid crystals) may form at points that relate to the organ, or
area of the body, to which the reflex point corresponds.
Occasionally, when rubbing or pressing firmly on these spots you
can feel them "pop" or burst apart -- they feel grainy or gritty
like sand or sugar. After the spots disappear, the area begins to
become less tender and the organ to which the reflex point relates
also functions better.
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the points on the hands
& feet correspond to the channels & collaterals. TCM has charts
dating back thousands of years illustrating the same points on
these areas as modern day Foot & Hand Reflexology charts. I
believe that the "true" system is some convergence of both
systems. Although, I think that what has been called
"Reflexology", or "Zone Therapy" is nothing more than a
re-discovering of the wheel you might say.
The Home of Reflexology provides details of Reflexology Organisations
together with information on reflexology and other reflexology related
d) By mixing scents with oil, various pleasing moods can be created.
Aromatherapy is the use of fragrant substances for health and beauty
treatment. It is often combined with massage since oils can be used to
carry fragrances while also allowing more pressure to be applied to
muscles. Its proponents claim that health benefits are associated with
specific choices of scent. For example, clary sage can be used to combat
depression. (See questions 5.2.4 and 5.1.2 for other sources of
information about Aromatherapy.)
e) `On-site massage' is one name for a short (15-20 minute) massage of
a client sitting in a special, portable massage chair. The client remains
fully clothed and no oils are used while their shoulders, neck, upper back,
head and arms are massaged. On-Site is popular at some offices as an
employee benefit and for some conferences, workshops and certain social
f) Erotic massage is really a sexual foreplay technique, rather than a
form of massage. Massage focuses on muscles, whereas erotic massage
focuses primarily on skin. It's been said that 95% of erotic (or sensual)
massage is the same as other massage. This is not an accepted form of
bodywork and therefore not something that you should expect from a
Registered MT. There is nonetheless some information specifically about
erotic massage in the archive. See also question 2.4, entitled `Is massage
a sexual technique?' for further clarification.
g) Trigger point and Myotherapy are pain-relief techniques to
alleviate muscle spasms and cramping. The therapist locates and
deactivates `trigger points', which are often tender areas where muscles
have been damaged or acquired a re-occuring spasm or `kink' that worsens
painfully when aggravated. The major goals are to reduce spasm inducing
new blood flow into the affected area. The spasms are partly maintained by
nervous system feedback (pain-spasm-pain) cycle. Spasms also physically
reduce blood flow to the trigger point area (ischemia), reducing oxygen
supplied to the tissues and increasing the spasm.
Pressure is applied to trigger points, for a short time (between
about 7 to 10 seconds per point), which can be momentarily painful but is
greatly relieving. It is common to hit the same trigger points several
times during a session, but you won't be leaning into a sore spot for
several minutes. Often ice or another cooling agent is used to reduce
nervous system response, making the area easier and more comfortable to
work. Then the muscles are gently stretched to complete the relaxation
process, hence the name `spray and stretch'. Myotherapy aims to erase pain
and soothe tightened muscles. People with acute or chronic muscle tension
and the associated pain are likely to benefit greatly from this type of
h) Polarity therapy is a holistic approach to natural health care. It
asserts that energy fields exist everywhere in nature, and that the flow
and balance of this energy in the human body is the underlying foundation
of health. Stress, tension, pain, inflexible thinking, and environmental
stimuli are among many factors that can contribute to the restriction of
this energy flow in the human body. According to Polarity therapists, such
energy blocks can be released by the use of four therapeutic methods:
bodywork, diet, exercise and self-awareness. The founder of Polarity
Therapy, Dr. Randolph Stone DO, DC, ND, emphasized the interdependence of
body, emotions, mind and spirit. Polarity therapy includes gentle body
manipulation and holding pressure points (poles) as well as counselling on
developing positive thoughts and attitudes, understanding the principles of
food combining and easy exercises to increase energy flow. Polarity is
often used by care givers in conjunction with many other therapies.
i) Myofascial release is used to evaluate and treat restrictions in
the body's contractile connective tissues (muscles) and non-contractile
supportive connective tissues (fascia) by the application of gentle
traction, pressures and positioning. Fascia is a complex supportive web
throughout the body affecting all components of the musculoskeletal,
nervous and visceral (organ) systems. It surrounds groups of muscle
fibres, and entire muscle groups and organs. While it is not contractile,
it can be passively elastically deformed. That is how it retains tensions
from physical and emotional traumas. It is also involved when a person
suffers chronic pain or physical dysfunction. Chronically tense muscles
restrict blood flow and fatigue the body. Both fascia and muscle tissues
can become shortened if they are improperly used. As well, layers of
fascia can stick together.
Myofascial release techniques are used to coax muscles in spasm to
relax, and break adhesions in the fascia. Bodies respond to these
therapies by releasing tension that has been stored in the fascia, thus
allowing more functional flexibility and mobility of the muscles, fascia
and associated structures. Another definition of fascia appears in
question 2.6 (about technical terms).
j) Craniosacral therapy can be considered to be a type of myofascial
release that is especially suited to addressing tensions in the
Craniosacral system: the membranes that contain the cerebrospinal fluid
within the head and spinal column, as well as the cranial (head and face)
bones to which these membranes are attached. Release of restrictions in
these membranes and at the sutures between the cranial lobes is deeply
relaxing and may relieve certain types of headache, spinal nerve problems,
temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), and stress in the nervous
system. Other body functions can also benefit and emotional tension may be
discharged through the process of Somato-Emotional Release.
k) Reiki is a gentle hands-on healing technique to reduce stress,
relieve pain, and facilitate healing. Practitioners hold that the vital
energy of the universe is channelled through the practitioner to energize
the various body systems on levels that promote healing and wholeness. The
hands (and intuition) are used to scan a client's body, and to perceive and
treat areas of reduced vitality.
The following subsection, about Reiki, is based on a text provided by
Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Brian M. Carter.
In English, the Japanese word `Reiki' refers to the teachings of Usui
Shiki Ryoho, translated as the `Usui Method of Natural (or Drugless)
Healing'. The Method has been known in Japan since the late 1860s. It was
brought to U.S.A. in the 1930s and, although it has no Christian roots, it
is certainly not a so-called New Age concoction.
It is based on the same energetic principles as acupuncture, t'ai chi
chuan and chi kung. But Reiki is neither invasive, as is acupuncture, nor
does it require physical agility and effort to gain benefits, as do t'ai
chi and chi kung.
According to Usui Shiki Ryoho Reiki Master Brian M. Carter: `this
adjunct to competent medical care is definitely based on a traditional
Oriental model of bodily healing, because it assumes the presence of an
imbalance of an energetic nature that is manifesting in the physical body
as stress, or, in more serious cases, as a life-threatening disease one may
be facing. As Reiki practitioners, we have learned that, in many cases, we
can help persons with such illnesses to remove these unseen causes and
replace them with robust energy that will have a definite, noticeable,
beneficial physical effect.'
There are two principal aspects of Reiki practice. As one
successfully builds a strong practice of Reiki, one also learns how to
convey this ki energy to others who need it. One aspect is called practice
`for oneself', which is emphasized in First Degree Reiki practice. The
other is called practice `for others' and is emphasized in Second Degree
and Master level practices.
For most daily stress, tension, minor illness, trauma, etc., First
Degree Reiki practice is very effective. For life-threatening illness --
in which severe physical manifestations have already materialized
(e.g. cancer and AIDS) and congenital diseases (e.g. cystic fibrosis and
muscular dystrophy) it is often very difficult for a person to effectively
practice `for oneself' therefore help from a more advanced Reiki
practitioner is often required for the best results. Second Degree and
Reiki Master level practitioners have acquired considerable ability in
directing and focusing ki energy through practice and study with persons
with severe illness. Such practitioners will have specific, advanced
techniques with which to help the ill person.
Much more information about Reiki is available in the archive's
`reiki' file. Information about the archive is available in question
5.1.2. There are also some WWW resources about Reiki -- see question
5.2.3 for details. The alt.healing.reiki newsgroup seems to be an
excellent place for serious discussion of Reiki (July 1996).
l) Trager Psychophysical Integration (usually just called Trager) uses
light, gentle, non-intrusive movements to facilitate the release of
deep-seated physical and mental patterns. Each part of the client's body
is moved rhythmically so that the recipient experiences the possibility of
moving lightly, effortlessly, and freely on their own. A Trager session
should help reduce stress from chronic tension, teach more effective ways
to recover from stressful situations, enhance conscious awareness and
flexibility, improve self-image, expand energy, restore free flowing
movement and full self-expression by reducing constriction and rigidity. A
Trager session can bring about the experience of peace and serenity -- a
high-energy state of well-being beyond relaxation.
m) The Hakomi method is a body-based psychotherapy using special
states of consciousness to help clients probe non-verbal levels where core
beliefs direct and influence their experiences. Body-mind awareness and
touch are used to explore the body as a deep source of information,
empowering the client to change their attitudes.
n) Jin Shin Do (transl. the way of the compassionate spirit) is
derived from acupressure. The technique involves applying gentle fingertip
pressure to thirty specific points along the body to release, smooth and
balance vital `chi' energy. Practitioners meditate and try to transfer chi
to clients by using knowledge of where energy flows and patterns meet.
According to its practitioners, Jin Shin Do pervades all aspects of our being
by affecting general muscle tension, improving circulation, balancing
emotions and raising the spiritual state of being.
o) Neuromuscular therapy uses advanced concepts in pressure therapy to
break the stress-tension-pain cycle. It aims to relax muscle so that
circulation can increase and the body will return to normal neuromuscular
integrity and balance. The St. John Method is a type of NMT.
p) Pfrimmer deep muscle therapy was developed by Therese Pfrimmer.
Once partially paralysed, she overcame her disability through deep muscle
manipulation and spent the next 30 years developing this technique.
Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy works across the muscles manipulating deep
tissues, stimulating circulation and regenerating lymphatic flow, thus
promoting detoxification and oxygenation of stagnant tissues.
q) Rolfing will be described here someday. Professionals at The
Rolf Institute of Structural Integration are working on a short descripion
of Rolfing. That's a big project that may take some time to complete.
Until it is I'm referring all interested readers to the WWW documents of
the Rolf Institute and the Guild for Structural Integration (respectively):
[Added 6 Sept. 1995; Rolf Institute URL added 30 May 1996;
Guild for Structural Integration URL added 1 March 1998]
r) This subsection, about the Alexander Technique, has been adapted from
a description of the Technique that was sent to me by the North American
Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (NASTAT). Brian McCullough
of NASTAT approved the adaptation.
People often develop habitual reactions, beliefs and movement
patterns that cause physical and mental strain. These patterns are
typically expressed by tight neck and back muscles, collapsed posture or
lack of mobility. Many of us don't realize how much cumulative damage,
pain or even injury these movement patterns can cause.
F. M. Alexander's method `The Alexander Technique' is used to teach
people to observe and correct their own habits of misuse. With a subtle
touch and verbal instructions, an Alexander teacher analyzes a client's
imbalances and reinforces their innate postural reflexes. Anyone --
whether sitting at a computer, playing a sport or an instrument or simply
walking -- can use this method to awaken untapped energy and power.
Ultimately, clients learn to harness their innate `kinesthetic
intelligence', become less stressed.
Many people who suffer from back and neck problems, chronic pain,
repetitive strain injury and breathing difficulties have found the
Alexander Technique a useful tool for solving a wide variety of problems.
Anyone -- including those with structural conditions such as scoliosis or
arthritis -- can utilize this approach to maximize their movement
potential. The Alexander Technique has taken its place in the curriculum
of music conservatories, theater schools and universities throughout the
world, as a foundation for creative exploration, improved health and an
expanded understanding of human potential.
For more information about the Alexander Technique contact the
North American Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique:
North American Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique (NASTAT)
3010 Hennepin Ave. South, Suite 10
Minneapolis, MN 55408, USA
tel: +1 (800) 473-0620
fax: +1 (612) 822-7224
See also Robert Rickover's The Complete Guide To The Alexander
Technique website at the address below. [`See also' included 1 Oct 1998]
s) This subsection, about The Feldenkrais Method, is adapted from a
a text provided by Feldenkrais practitioner Jerry Larson.
The Feldenkrais Method is named after its originator, Moshe
Feldenkrais. It can be used to improve grace, ease and range of motion, to
relieve pain and limitation resulting from accident or illness, to improve
the performance of athletes, artists, actors, etc., and for self-discovery
and personal growth.
Feldenkrais work is based on learning. Humans learn posture and
movement, and then, in effect forget them. We can improve the ways that we
move and organize our bodies by paying conscious attention to our posture.
Feldenkrais practitioners hold that there is no single ideal posture -- the
ideal way of organizing your body is something for you to discover, and can
change over time.
There are two ways of doing Feldenkrais work: Functional
Integration lessons and Awareness Through Movement.
Functional Integration lessons resemble some forms of massage in
that the Feldenkrais practitioner gently moves the client, who usually lies
on a table similar to a massage table. Clients are fully clothed. No
lubricants are used. The practitioner moves the client's bones and joints,
in natural, functional ways, i.e., no high-speed or forceful manipulations.
These techniques are collectively known as `a skeletal contact'. There is
no stroking or manipulating of the body's soft tissues.
In Awareness Through Movement, the client actively explores
movement by following verbal instructions. This format resembles an
exercise or Yoga class, but there is no strenuous effort, and smaller
movements, or even imagined ones, can be more effective than large ones. A
lasting change can occur in one session, because the changes brought about
in this work are changes in one's self image, which determines the body's
movements and posture.
`Feldenkrais Method', `Awareness Through Movement', and `Functional
Integration' are registered service marks of the FELDENKRAIS GUILD.
More information is available from `The Feldenkrais Method Home
Page' which the Guild maintains at the address below.
t) [The following description of Hellerwork has been adapted from a
text provided by Jacqueline Freeman of Hellerwork International, LLC. The
adapted text has been approved by Jacqueline Freeman.]
Hellerwork's system of deep-tissue bodywork and movement education
is designed to realign and recondition the body while releasing chronic
tension and stress. Verbal dialogue also helps clients become aware of
emotional stress that may be related to physical tension. Hellerwork helps
people move from their current `average' state to the optimal state of
health and wellbeing which is the body's `normal' and natural condition.
Hellerwork practitioners offer a series of integrated one-hour
sessions of deep tissue bodywork, movement education, and verbal
dialogue. The number of sessions can vary from person to person due to the
varying needs of individuals. The series is organized along eleven
sections and each section can take one or more sessions to accomplish the
Although Hellerwork may be effective for temporary pain or tension
relief, Hellerwork recognizes that pain and tension are usually the result
of an overall pattern of imbalance occurring in the body. Rather than
treating the pain or tension `symptom' of this imbalance, Hellerwork
focuses on rebalancing the entire body, returning it to a more aligned,
relaxed and youthful state.
The verbal dialogue component of Hellerwork focuses on allowing you
to become aware of the relationship between your emotions and attitudes and
your body. As you become aware of these relationships, you are able to
become responsible for your attitudes so that they are less likely to limit
your body and your self expression.
All Hellerwork Practitioners are certified by Hellerwork
International, which is responsible for the continuing education required
of all Practitioners, and for the maintenance of professional standards.
More information about Hellerwork is available in the archive's
`hellerwork' file, from the Hellerwork web page (see below) and from
Hellerwork International, LLC at:
406 Berry Street
Mount Shasta, CA 96067, USA
+1 (916) 926-2500 / +1 (800) 392-3900
+1 (916) 926-6839 (fax)
u) There are many more types of massage and bodywork than those
dealt with here. If you are interested in learning about a specific type
that is not mentioned here, look for a file about it in the archive or read
one of the books recommended in this FAQL (see question 2.3) or in the book
file in the archive (see question 5.1.2).
Subject: Where can I read about massage techniques?
Q2.3) _The Massage Book_ by George Downing (and illustrated by Anne
Kent Rush) is highly and frequently recommended. It has been co-published
by Bodyworks and Random House with ISBN 0-394-70770-2 (paper) since 1972.
The trade edition is reported to have ISBN 0-394-48241-7.
Keith Grant recommends _The Complete Book of Massage_ by Clare
Maxwell-Hudson (Random House, 1988) and _The Book of Massage: The Complete
Step-by-Step Guide to Eastern and Western Techniques_ by Lucinda Liddel
with Sara Thomas, Carola Beresford Cooke and Anthony Porter (A Fireside
Book published by Simon and Schuster, 1984).
The FAQL maintainer thinks _The Back Rub Book: How to give and
receive great back rubs_ by Anne Kent Rush (A Vintage Book published by
Random House, 1989/ISBN 0-394-75962-1) and _The Massage Book_ are great.
The alt.backrubs archive (see question 5.1.2) contains detailed
recommendations for these and other books as well as much advice for novice
and experienced massagers. The archive category `Getting Started' contains
basic advice about massage techniques. The archive also contains
suggestions for videos, journals and specific magazine articles.
The alt.romance FAQL contains some advice about giving some basic
massages too. You can find that document in the alt.romance newsgroup and
at the rtfm.mit.edu FTP site in pub/usenet-by-group/alt.romance. See
question 5.2 for information about FTP and the rtfm.mit.edu site in
Subject: Is massage a sexual technique?
Q2.4) It can be, but it need not be.
Massage operates in a continuum between physical therapy or say
Shiatsu, which is exclusively muscle focused and is highly non-erotic, to
Swedish massage, which is muscle focused and includes affectionate but not
erotic touch, to erotic massage which is a sexual technique.
Most people's response to a good (Swedish) massage is to fall
asleep, not to get aroused. If a massage is focused on relaxing muscle
groups, it will not be an erotic experience. The donor will get a major
workout and the receiver will be very relaxed. If a massage is focused on
touching skin it will be an affectionate experience and a highly intimate
and emotional one -- but not an erotic one. If a body rub is primarily
focused on touching skin, especially if that focus includes erogenous
zones, it may be an erotic experience.
There are some very nice strokes which are used only in sexual
contexts, they are quite distinct from the strokes used in other kinds of
massage. Some of them are described in the archive.
One of the hallmarks of a dysfunctional family (one which
perpetuates a culture of addiction and dependence) is a deep confusion
between affectionate and erotic touch combined with a strong yearning for,
yet fear of, emotional intimacy. People who have this confusion are likely
to experience any kind of touch as erotic or to use affectionate touch as a
surrogate for forbidden erotic touch. These same people are likely to view
all nudity as sexual, or more properly, to consider touch, nudity and sex,
as surrogates for the intimacy vacuum associated with the culture. This
forms the subtext for some of the threads that appear periodically in the
newsgroup. Because most massage, like most body therapies, is hindered by
clothing, and involves touch, this newsgroup periodically attracts the
attention of some of these unfortunates.
You will avoid unpleasant misunderstandings if you are clear in
your own mind on what you want, and if you are able to clearly discern
between a prospective masseur/masseuse/massee :-) and a prospective sexual
partner, or someone with a voyeuristic interest in the pseudo-intimacy of
There is lots about this in the archive (see question 5.1.2 for
information about the archive). In particular, see the sections entitled
`Sex & Massage' and `Sexual Massage/Foreplay'.
Subject: Might I hurt someone if I do something wrong?
Q2.5) There are some things of which to be careful. Read a good book, to
learn all you need to know. In general, be careful of organs, joints
(including vertebrae), and veins. Avoid applying heavy pressure to the
kneecap, back of the knee, the abdomen and the front of the neck. There is
a right direction (toward the heart) and a wrong direction to apply
pressure. (Veins have valves that act to prevent the back flow of blood
returning to the heart. You don't want to blow those valves!) Read the
`toward.heart' file in the archive (see question 5.1.2) if you are
interested in the discussion of why certain massage techniques do not go
towards the heart. Similarly, the abdomen should be massaged in a
clockwise direction because of the way the intestines are laid out.
Obviously avoid broken bones, acute inflammations, etc. and use
caution if the recipient has a medical problem, including infections.
Information and advice about massaging bruises, and dealing with chronic
pain, is available in the archive. Cancer and plebitis have been mentioned
as conditions incompatible with massage.
Beyond that, you're responsible for getting your own expert
therapeutic, medical, legal, etc. advice :-)
The `warning' file in the archive contains some of the more dire
warnings posted to the newsgroup. The `toward.heart' file in the archive
contains some more information about the direction in which to apply
Subject: What does this technical term mean?
Q2.6) Below is a short list of technical terms which arise in
alt.backrubs. If you would like to see an addition or change to this
list please read question 0.3. Expansion of acronyms is in question
1.2. Descriptions of some massage and bodywork techniques are in
Draping: refers to the covering of the client's body while they are
Effleurage: is used in Swedish massage. It is a long, gliding stroke.
Esalen: Keith Grant posted this quotation from the Esalen catalogue:
`Esalen Institute is a center to explore work in the humanities
and sciences that promotes human values and potentials. Its
activities consist of public seminars, residential work-study
programs, invitational conferences, research, and
semi-autonomous projects. (Its [sic - JB] been described as being a
state of mind as much as a physical place).'
Fascia: A layer or sheet of connective tissue that connects the various
structures and organs of the body. Some fascia is simple sheets,
others are complex and multi-layered. Fascia is usually divided
into two types: superficial and deep. (See question 0.5 for
Fibromyalgia: an arthritic condition affecting muscles.
Holistic Massage: treats the body as a whole and does not concentrate
on only a troubled area. (compare with Therapeutic)
Petrissage: is used in Swedish massage. They are kneading, grabbing,
wringing strokes used to focus on body regions.
Strain/Counter Strain is a set of techniques for relieving musculoskeletal
spasm and pain. It is a passive procedure that places the body or
limb into the position of greatest comfort. This reduces or arrests
the inappropriate nervous system activity that maintains protective
muscle spasm. Normalization of both muscle tone and joint function
normally accompany the decrease or elimination of pain that result.
Tapotement: are a variety of percussive strokes, hitting, tapping, or
pinching strokes used in Swedish massage.
Therapeutic Massage: usually concentrates on a particular area which
needs treatment. (compare with Holistic)
Jamie Blustein `No trees were destroyed to make this post' <email@example.com>
The disclaimer is the subject of question 0.6
See also http://www.ii.uib.no/~kjartan/backrubfaq/
This document is archived in ftp://rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/alt.backrubs/