The Benefits of Touch Therapy

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touch therapyJust about all of us are very familiar with mental stress. This mental stress can be the result of a crisis situation that suddenly invades our life. Or, it can even be just going through the daily motions of the grind of life. Regardless of the circumstances, the stress is real and makes an impact. Stress affects our mind and it also affects our bodies. Stress that manifests physically can be alleviated by a massage therapist with touch therapy.

Doing things like stretching or deep breathing are easy ways to de-stress that work for some people. Others need something a little more hands-on. Some individuals who carry a lot of stress develop knots of tension over time and it requires more physical attention. Studies show that those who are battling major issues also benefit from incorporating touch therapy into their medical treatment plans.

 

 

Benefits Of Touch Therapy

 

 

Massage therapy and Reiki therapy are two forms of touch therapy that work to alleviate stress and promote overall wellness. Read on to learn the differences between these two forms of treatment and to see if one is right for you.

 

Reiki Therapy

touch therapy reiki therapy

This form of touch therapy is a Japanese technique intended for stress reduction and relaxation. This therapy also promotes healing for those suffering from health conditions.

Japanese Buddhist Mikao Usu developed Reiki in 1922. Reiki is a very spiritual form of touch therapy, although it is not affiliated with a specific religion. Reiki is made up of two Japanese words: “Rei” and “Ki”. Rei refers to God’s wisdom or the divine power. Ki is defined as the life energy force, or one’s nature, mood, or temperament.

Essential to this form of touch therapy is the idea of transferring invisible, yet positive “life force energy.” When the body is low on life force energy it is more likely to feel the effects of stress and sickness. On the other hand, if the body is high on life force energy the person is more likely to be happy and healthy.

 

How it works

Transferring positive, life force energy is the fundamental concept at the heart of Reiki. The Reiki therapist uses a “laying on hands” method to transfer the positive life force energy into the areas of the body that are low.

At the start of a Reiki session, the therapist will have clients lie on a table on their back and relax. During the session, the Reiki therapist then goes through a series of hand positions over the body to infuse positive life force energy.

While there is no strict order of operation, therapists generally start with the top of the head and work their way down. During this touch therapy the therapist will pay special attention to the chakras of the body or the key areas involved with the human energy system. The heart is an example of a chakra.

If you do not feel comfortable with the therapist touching you tell the practitioner at the start of the session. The therapist is still able to infuse positive energy by holding his or her hands in the various positions an inch or so away from the body.

 

Length of session

The average length of a Reiki session is 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The Reiki practitioner generally holds each hand position for two to three minutes. If you specify an area of the body that needs attention, additional time can be applied to that area.

 

Pricing

A Reiki session generally costs $25 to $100. The cost is usually higher in urban areas. The price also varies depending on the level and experience of the Reiki practitioner. There are four levels of training in Reiki: One, Two, Advanced, and Master. A Master-leveled practitioner typically charges a higher price.

 

Benefits

Reiki therapy is a method of holistic treatment in that it treats the whole person including the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Benefits of this touch therapy include feelings of peace, serenity, well-being and relaxation.

While there is no evidence that suggests this form of alternative medicine treats physical conditions and ailments, some sufferers believe Reiki helps. After undergoing a Reiki treatment, many believe that their symptoms are less severe, and that they feel better.

Reiki is great for self-improvement. It is also safe, natural, and easy to participate in. Frequent participants claim they feel happier, less stressed, and revitalized after a treatment.

 

Drawbacks

Because Reiki is a lesser known form of touch therapy it is often difficult to find a practitioner. They are usually more accessible in urban areas and in the U.S. states that are along the coasts.

It is also difficult to determine beforehand the skill level of a Reiki therapist. Unlike other therapies, Reiki therapists and their respective training programs are not regulated by the government. Hence, there is no standard set for someone who wants to establish a practice as a Reiki practitioner.

When making an appointment for the first time it is a good idea to ask the practitioner his or her level of training. A Master-level is preferred, but those who are designated as Advanced usually have a significant amount of experience as well. Prior to making an appointment, it may be beneficial to ask friends or acquaintances for a referral. Making an appointment with someone who has been seen by others and comes highly recommended is more comforting.

A final drawback of Reiki therapy is that some individuals are skeptical of it as a form of therapy. Because it deals with the power of the mind and the idea of invisible, life force energy, many write this off as a bunch of “baloney,” or insert your preferred phrase.

Medical journals do not claim Reiki is a scientific treatment to address physical conditions. However, those who continue to make appointments with a Reiki practitioner claim that treatments help them to feel better. As to its effectiveness you may have to try it out and make your own determination.

 

Self-treatment option

It is nice to be able to see a Reiki practitioner to receive a comprehensive, entire body treatment. However, even most practitioners encourage clients to perform Reiki treatment on themselves.

Many of the hand positions that take place during a schedule session can be replicated at home. There are several tutorials of these hand positions found on the web, along with videos. It might be awkward at first, but continually practicing improves performance.

For those that have a strong interest in applying Reiki treatment, there are also training sessions available. Most of these sessions are available to anyone and take place on a weekend. These sessions generally take some planning since they are offered in certain locations at specific times of the year.

 

Massage Therapy

touch therapy massage therapy

Massage dates back to over 5,000 years ago. Written records have been discovered in China, India, and Egypt which date back 2700 B.C. Even in historical times this form of touch therapy was used for medicinal and health benefits.

Massage therapy gained popularity in the United States in the mid 1800’s. By the 1980’s massage therapist’s started to be utilized seriously by professional athletes. Since then massage therapy has taken off and is continues to be used by different people for with varying health reasons.

Massage therapy involves applying pressure to various areas of the body. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other areas of tension are targeted with pressure. A massage therapist or a masseuse generally uses a chair or a massage table in order to administer treatment.

 

How it works

There are over 200 different types of massage. Some are more intense than others and it’s helpful to have some basic knowledge before making an appointment. Some of the more common forms of massage are:

Swedish Massage: A less intensive massage that is beneficial for relaxation and relieving tense muscles

Hot Stone Massage: This form of massage uses heated stones. The massage therapist places stones onto the tense areas of the body and then are massaged into the muscles. This is a more relaxing type of massage.

Deep Tissue Massage: Relief of tension in key areas is key to this method. The therapist applies harder pressure to tense areas. This form of massage is less relaxing than a Swedish massage, but is beneficial in breaking up the knots of stress.

Aromatherapy Massage: This is another form of a relaxing massage. The massage therapist applies essential oils to incorporate the benefits of aromatherapy.

 

Also Read: A Guide To Aromatherapy

 

Shiatsu Massage: A form of massage with Japanese origins. The therapist applies rhythmic finger pressure to acupressure points on the body. The goal of Shiatsu is to improve energy flow, alleviate tension and overall health of the client.

Trigger Point Massage: This massage focuses on how tight areas of the body negatively affect other parts of the body. A massage therapist then applies isolated pressure to these key trigger points to help reduce the pain impacting elsewhere in the body.

Sports Massage: This style massage is intended for the athlete. Athletes who play certain sports are subject to soreness and tension in specific muscles and areas. A massage therapist focuses on these overused areas when applying pressure.

Chair Massage: Generally used for massages that are less lengthy in time. The head, neck, shoulders and back are the prime areas of focus.

 

Length of session

Massage times range from 30, 50, to 90 minutes. Some massages run for two hours, but going any longer is not recommended. Full body massages are usually 50 to 90 minutes in length.

 

Pricing

The national average price for a massage is $60 dollar an hour. Urban areas are generally more expensive; the spa or individual pricing of the massage therapist affects pricing as well. In addition to paying for the massage, it is encouraged that you tip a massage therapist who provides good service after a massage.

 

Benefits

Many who schedule a massage initially look forward to the relaxation aspect of a massage. However, the benefits of massage travel more than just skin deep. Knots of tension build up over time due to stress. Sometimes we are aware of them, sometimes we aren’t. But after a visit to a massage therapist, it is nice have the feeling of having that tension rubbed out. Following a massage, clients generally feel looser and more relaxed.

In addition to relieving muscle pain and tension, massage has additional health benefits as well. Some of these health benefits include alleviating headaches, reducing stress and anxiety. This form of touch therapy also helps those who suffer from joint pain and/or sports injuries.

 

Also Read: How To Return to Running after Injury

 

Drawbacks

The main complaint many have about massage is that going frequently drains the wallet. A longer massage does usually lower the rate per minute, but a 90 minute massage is still price nonetheless. Some massage venues, like Massage Envy, have a monthly billing cycle which helps to reduce the average price. However, for these places it is essential to go in a timely manner in order to make it cost effective.

Some massage training schools will offer the public a discounted rate. By looking into these institutes is a nice way to get a massage for a reduced rate, as well as giving a students some hands-on experience.

Another drawback can occur when experiencing a deep tissue massage. Since these massage techniques do use more pressure, they can be physically intense or uncomfortable. Most associate the word massage with relaxing; deep tissue massages generally are not. However, after leaving the massage appointment, or the next day, the benefits of such a massage are generally experienced.

Even though deep-tissue and sports massages are more intense a good massage therapist should ease into the pressure. If at any time during a massage any procedure is painful it is important to let the massage therapist know right away.

 

Self-treatment option

While it is easier to have someone else apply pressure to those tense areas, it is possible to massage some of those knotted muscles out at home. While it depends on the exact location, using massage tools helps to make the job easier. A massage ball or a trigger point foam roller in nice to have on hand when working out tight areas of the body. Using these massage tools for the first time is generally a little awkward and usually takes some practice.

The key to using them is to work through those tight areas in a sequence that uses repetition; one quick roll isn’t going to loosen up those knots. But once you get the hang of it, it’s nice to be able to knead out those areas without having to wait to see a massage therapist.

With all the business that fills up the calendars and agendas, many don’t feel they have the time for a stress break or touch therapy. But over time, this stress builds up and has a negative impact even if these impacts aren’t visible. Taking some time to de-stress and focus on the self is a great way to re-charge and better our overall health – physically and mentally.

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