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Definitions of  Massage, Bodywork, Energy, Alternative Medicine & Healing Modalities

No statements in the definitions below should be considered to be medical advice or taken as advice against seeking medical treatment, but are provided purely for their educational value. In the case of  serious acute, chronic or degenerative conditions immediately seek competent medical advice from your primary health care provider.
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 Salt Scrubs - (also Salt Glow and Salt Rub ) A cleansing, exfoliating spa procedure using a paste made from sea salt and  water or almond oil. The compound is gently massaged over the body and then rinsed off with fresh water.

Sauna - see Steam & Sauna

Scotch Hose - is the use of alternating hot and cold water sprays to massage a standing client. It is a relatively high pressured hose, used at a specific distance and gives a very specific hydromassage of the body. (See Also Hydrotherapy)

Seaweed Body Wrap - After a light massage with an essential oil, the body is painted with a seaweed mixture and then may or may not be wrapped in a plastic sheet.. Usually no heat is applied, but use of a specialized electric blanket which is programmed for targeted zones of the body may be used in some spas.  The wrap is maintained for twenty minutes to enhance perspiration and detoxification.  The client is then given a shower treatment and an application of marine lotion for maximum skin tissue remineralization.

Self-Help or Self-Improvement - the act or instance of improving one's self without assistance from others. This usually entails resolving or eliminating poor self-image, nonproductive thought patterns, painful memories of past trauma, habits, addictions or improving confidence, physical conditions or skills through repeated positive affirmations.  It may include self-healing, personal growth, self-hypnosis, guided imagery or subliminal messaging.

Shamanic Drumming is a term used to encompass a range of drumming beats and techniques used to induce a shamanic trance state during which the practitioner (shaman) or the client will journey in non-ordinary reality to; gain information, meet and retrieve power animals or spirits, or effect a cure to a physical, emotional or spiritual situation.  The Shaman or an assistant will beat the drum at 120 to 180 beats per minute for several minutes (twenty minutes to as long as an hour).  It is thought that the sonic driving force of the percussion actually slows the brain wave frequency to an alpha or even theta brain wave pattern, thus facilitating the waking trance state.  At the discretion of the shaman or the assistant a pre-agreed rhythm will signal that the journey should end and the client return to ordinary reality. Other drum beats may be used to connect with mother earth, the six directions, to give thanks, or prepare the space for ritual drumming.  See also Drumming circle.

Shamanism ( See Spiritual/Shamanic Healing )

Shiatsu is a Japanese word that means 'finger pressure'. The most widely known form of acupressure, shiatsu has been used in Japan for more than 1,000 years. It is a  system based on the body's energy meridians. Utilizing traditional Chinese acupuncture points , this bodywork  technique uses thumb, finger and palm pressure rather than needles.  Shiatsu massages are normally done fully clothed and involve pressing points on the body and stretching and opening of the  energy meridians.  Its proponents view it as a  form of  treatment alternative to medicine or surgery. Although the term is sometimes used as synonymous with acupressure, Shiatsu as practiced  in the Western world is more like a full body massage therapy treatment, while acupressure addresses finger pressure on  specific points for a specific effect. There are many variations of Shiatsu  which are practiced in the U.S.;Zen Shiatsu, Five Element Shiatsu, Ohashiatsu are a few.  (Toru Namikoshi's Complete Book of Shiatsu Therapy -- published by Japan Pubs., Inc. with ISBN 0-87040-461-x in 1981 -- claims to be the definitive work;

 Soft Tissue Release (STR) is a powerful sports injury treatment technique developed by Stuart Taws while working with the British Athletic Team.  STR deals directly with the reasons for soft tissue disfunctions and subsequent referred pain and nerve entrapment.  In acute situations, STR affects the insidious way scar tissue is formed and in chronic conditions STR breaks up the fibrotic and adhered mass of scar tissue to quickly allow the muscle to return to its natural resting length.

Soma Neuromuscular Integration This bodywork method seeks to improve posture, joint function, and body alignment through deep manipulation of of the muscular and connective tissue.  The ten-session process, which incorporates movement training and other adjuncts, also seeks to promote greater access to the functioning of each hemisphere of the brain.  People with conditions such as chronic back pain, arthritis, asthma, scoliosis. and headaches have sought relief from this method.

Sound Therapy - The therapeutic use of sound and music to reduce anxiety and emotional stress, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and promote healing. ( see also Toning & Tuning )

Spa Therapies.   A variety of body treatments administered in spas which may or may not include massage.  Aromatherapy, Body Scrubs, Herbal Baths, Herbal Wraps, Kneipp therapy, Loofah body scrubs, Mud baths, Parafango, Salt scrubs, Scotch hose, Seaweed body wraps, Steam & Sauna, Swiss Shower, Thalassotherapy, Hydrotherapy treatments, etc.

Spiritual/Shamanic Healing.  Practitioners of both spiritual and shamanic healing often regard themselves as conductors of healing energy from the spiritual realm.  Both may call upon spiritual 'helpers' such as power animals  (characteristic of the shaman), angels God, Jesus Christ, guides, inner  teachers, the client's higher self, or other spiritual forces. Furthermore, spiritual healing emphasizes that the healing energy is not  that of the practitioner, but of higher forces outside of the  practitioner, which they are channeling or focusing on the client. It is up to the client to heal themselves (or not) using the additional  energy supplied through the practitioner.  This is distinct from psychic healing in which the practitioner focuses  their personal energy on a client with the intent to heal a specific condition, thereby 'forcing' a healing on the client.  By this definition, Reiki is spiritual healing, while Therapeutic touch and Mariel are psychic healing.  Both spiritual and shamanic forms of healing can be used as part of treatment for a range of emotional and physical illnesses.

Sports Massage ( See Massage, Sports) (see also article by Don Gillmore,"What is Sports Massage" )

Sports Medicine involves the prevention and treatment of injuries to athletes and other physically active people, as well as the use of exercise for recovery from non-sports injuries. Orthopedic (musculoskelatal system) surgeons (MDs) often specialize in sports medicine.  This is a specialization of Allopathic medicine and is not necessarily  an alternative or holistic healing modality.

St. John's Method - Paul St. John,  founder and director of St. John Neuromuscular Therapy Seminars and the St. John Neuromuscular Pain Relief Institute, is named the modern developer of Neuromuscular Therapy by Milady's Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage, 2nd edition.(See Neuromuscular Therapy)

Steam & Sauna Rooms - These are highly therapeutic heated rooms, which are often used prior to a scrub, wrap, massage or hydrotherapy treatment such as a cold plunge, swiss shower or scotch hose.  A steam room is a ceramic lined room with wet heat. Steam should not exceed 110 to 130 degrees Farenheit (120 degrees Farenheit is ideal).  The  traditional Finnish sauna is a wood lined room with dry heat generated by a stove over which a small amount of water is thrown onto a heap of heated stones. Temperature in a sauna should not exceed 160 to 216 degrees Farenheit ( 180 to 190 degrees F is ideal).  A recent popular variation of the dry heat sauna is the Far Infrared (FIR) Sauna, which relies on radiant heat panels in the far infrared spectrum. These saunas transmit heat deep into the tissues without heating the surrounding air. Elevated air temperatures are achieved from the reradiated heat off the sauna walls.  The exposure to full body heat should be limited and monitored.

Structural Integration A systematic approach to relieving patterns of stress and impaired functioning, structural integration seeks to correct misalignments in the body created by gravity and physical and psychological trauma.  As in Rolfing , in ten sessions the practitioner uses hands, arms, and elbows to apply pressure to the fascia, or connective tissue,  while the client  participates through directed breathing.

Subliminal Images - a form of subliminal messaging, which bypasses the conscious mind's ability to evaluate and reject information.

Subliminal Messaging - the use of images, sounds or thoughts, which bypass our conscious mind's ability to block or negate information.  A self-help technique. The premiss is that our subconscious minds are always listening to our thoughts and accepts them at face value.  However, if we have a negative self-image or low self-esteem, our conscious mind will reject any suggestion that we are as an example: attractive, intelligent or worthy of finding happiness.  Subliminal messaging attempts to bypass the conscious gate guard and plant the seeds of positive affirmations, which will lead to real change.

Swedish massage (See Massage, Swedish)

Swiss shower - is one in which fresh water is sprayed over the body from both overhead and side-positioned needle-like jet valves.  A massaging and invigorating effect is created by varying the spray velocity and temperature.

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