Most all Massage Therapists have a “toolbox”, put simply, a list of techniques and skills that they bring to the massage table. There are some Massage Therapists that find one technique, stick with it, and use that one technique exclusively. Xerlan and Christopher Deery aren’t like that. We are admitted massage aficionados and education addicts, and invest in our clients by continuing to add to our skill set.
Here are a few terms that we (and other Massage Therapists ) may use frequently, when describing what we do…
Acupressure – is a complementary medicine technique derived from acupuncture. In acupressure physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points by the hand, elbow, or with various devices, along the meridians. Acupressure is considered a Traditional Oriental Medical treatment, and can be very effective in the treatment of many physiological and psychological issues.
AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) – The American Massage Therapy Association was founded in 1943. The American Massage Therapy Association represents more than 56,000 massage therapists in 27 countries. It is the largest non-profit, member driven; massage exclusive, professional organization of massage therapists in the United States. AMTA works to establish massage therapy as integral to the maintenance of good health and complementary to other therapeutic processes; to advance the profession through ethics and standards, certification, school accreditation, continuing education, professional publications, legislative efforts, public education, and fostering the development of members. AMTA is led by a volunteer Board of Directors elected by and from the membership at the national, chapter (state) and in some states, unit (local) levels.
Bodywork – Any of a number of therapeutic or simply relaxing practices that involve the manipulation, massage, or regimented movement of body parts. Examples include massage, craniosacral therapy, and Pilates. Bodywork may be used as an adjunct to medical treatment, or it may be prescribed as a form of physical therapy for certain conditions.
Chronic Pain Massage – Massage for chronic pain restores mobility by loosening tight muscles and trigger points and by lengthening muscles. Massage also improves circulation by increasing blood flow, as well as promotes relaxation and helps relieve emotional stress and anxiety that can contribute to chronic pain. Massage also helps manage chronic pain by increasing energy and improving sleep. Collectively, these benefits of massage for chronic pain can help you get back to your regular routine faster, as well as provide the motivation you need to practice the prescribed rehabilitation exercises and return to a regular exercise program. Xerlan and Christopher have been extensively trained in Massage for chronic pain, as well as massage for specific demographics, including but not exclusive to fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and the many forms of arthritis.
Compression – a massage technique that isolates a particular area and puts direct pressure on to it. Pressure can then be held for a designated amount of time, or until the muscle or connective tissue changes in consistency. Depth and time held is individual to the issue and body being treated.
Complementary Medicine – A group of diagnostic and therapeutic disciplines that are used together with conventional medicine. Complementary medicine includes a large number of practices and systems of health care that, for a variety of cultural, social, economic, or scientific reasons, have not been adopted by ‘mainstream’ Western medicine. Complementary medicine is different from alternative medicine.Whereas complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.
CranioSacral – (also called CST , cranial osteopathy , also spelled CranioSacral bodywork or therapy) is used by osteopaths, massage therapists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and occupational therapists. A craniosacral therapy session involves the therapist placing their hands on the patient, which they say allows them to tune into what they call the craniosacral rhythm. The practitioner gently works with the spine and the skull and its cranial sutures, diaphragms, and fascia. In this way, the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord is said to be optimized, and misaligned bones are said to be restored to their proper position. Craniosacral therapists use the therapy to treat mental stress, neck and back pain, migraines, TMJ Syndrome, and for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia. Xerlan and Christopher have studied under Michael Shea, and the Uplegder Insititue.
Deep Tissue Massage – Deep Tissue massage is designed to relieve severe tension in the muscle and the connective tissue or fascia. This type of massage focuses on the muscles located below the surface of the top muscles. Deep tissue massage is often recommended for individuals who experience consistent pain, are involved in heavy physical activity, such as athletes, and patients who have sustained physical injury. It is also not uncommon for receivers of Deep Tissue Massage to have their pain replaced with a new muscle ache for a day or two. Deep tissue work varies greatly. What one calls deep tissue another may call light. When receiving deep tissue work it is important to communicate what you are feeling. Deep tissue massage does not refer to a pressure – it refers to a depth. Xerlan trained with Barry Green, Ph.D at Body Mind College in many forms of deep tissue massage, including Soft Touch-Deep Tissue.
Effluerage – a French word meaning “to skim” or “to touch lightly on”, is a series of massage strokes used in Swedish massage to warm up the muscle before deep tissue work using petrissage. This is a soothing, stroking movement most often used at the beginning and the end of the facial and/or body massage. It is also used as a linking move between the different strokes and movements. Effleurage is basically a form of massage involving a circular stroking movement made with the palm of the hand. Effleurage can be firm or light without dragging the skin and is performed using either the padded parts of the finger tips or the palmar surface of the hands, and works as a mechanical pump on the body to encourage venous and lymphatic return.
Fascia – is the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system that permeates the human body. It interpenetrates and surrounds muscles, bones, organs, nerves, blood vessels and other structures. Fascia is an uninterrupted, three-dimensional web of tissue that extends from head to toe, from front to back, from interior to exterior. It is responsible for maintaining structural integrity; for providing support and protection; and acts as a shock absorber. Fascia has an essential role in hemodynamic and biochemical processes, and provides the medium that allows for intercellular communication. Some practitioners respect the fascia, as it’s own system. Christopher has trained with Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains, in fascial kinesiology.
Flexibility – the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints that is attainable in a momentary effort with the help of a partner or a piece of equipment. Flexibility in some joints can be increased to a certain degree by stretching. Flexibility has long been underestimated and perhaps overlooked by health-care professionals. Improving and maintaining a good range of motion in the joints enhance quality of life. Overall flexibility should be developed with specific joint range of motion needs in mind as the individual joints vary from one to another.
Friction – strokes used to help break down connective tissue or adhesions, found within muscles, tendons and ligaments. The therapist uses small motions making certain not to evoke an inflammatory response. Stretching and ice may be applied to the treated tissue. Frictions are performed when tissue is in a relaxed neutral position and the thumb or fingers are used to compress the tissue over the site. The pressure is increased and small back and forth movements are applied perpendicularly in the direction of the tissue fiber. No oil or lotion is used.
Functional Flexibility – in the biomechnical realm, functional flexibility is the ability of abode to act as one homeodynamic unit; that is, a referent to the flexibility of an entire body, directly relevant to the amount that the body can start at a muscularly contracted state and expand to a full stretched posture. This system not only refers to muscular flexibility, but also articular flexibility and fascial tensegrity.
Geriatric Massage – Geriatric massage therapy is designed to address the specific needs of the elderly population. This type of massage for the elderly uses gentle and light application of massage techniques and can include passive stretching and a lighter oil or lotion to permit muscles to be worked on without causing excessive friction to the skin. These techniques can help enhance blood circulation, combat depression, improve balance and flexibility, reduce the pain of arthritis, increase joint mobility, improve posture, and encourage overall well being. Xerlan has been trained by Dietrich Meisler as well as working with the aged in the Geriatric Psych department at Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Heart Centered Therapy – HCT is a a dialoguing technique that is guided by the wisdom of the heart. The heart naturally knows how to unify and dissolve beliefs and mental constructs that may have held us in pain, confusion and/or separation. More guided imagery than massage, Heart Centered Therapy helps individuals confront and resolve emotional and psychological issues that may be manifesting in the body. Xerlan and Christopher have studied extensively with Bruno and Alaya Chikly and have completed their certification in HCT.
Jostling / Shaking /Rocking – a basic technique where the foundation of a muscle, (bone, connective tissue, or other surrounding musculature) are kept still, and the musculature is briskly moved to encourage greater movement and fluidity.
Kinesiology – the study of human and animal movement, performance, and function by applying the sciences of biomechanics, anatomy, physiology, psychology, and neuroscience. Also known as human kinetics, is the scientific study of human movement. Kinesiology addresses physiological, mechanical, and psychological mechanisms. Christopher and Xerlan have been trained in Kinesiology through their association with many Sports Medicine programs, as well as their experience with many Physical Rehabilitation centers and settings.
Lymphatic Drainage Therapy – The LDT process involves the use of subtle manual maneuvers to aid in the recirculation of the lymphatic flow. Specifically, the therapist works with flat hands, using all the fingers to stimulate wave-like movements. The pressure applied is generally around five grams, or the equivalent weight of a nickel. Using this technique, trained therapists are able to detect the specific rhythm, direction, depth and quality of the lymph flow anywhere in the body. Xerlan and Christopher have trained with Bruno Chikly through all five levels of Lymphatic Drainage Therapy, not including wrapping and bandaging classes. They have been teaching assistants and speakers about LDT several times, and consider LDT as one of their foundational techniques in addressing issues within the body.
Massage – is the practice of soft tissue manipulation with physical (anatomical), functional (physiological), and psychological purposes and goals. The word comes from the French massage “friction of kneading”, or from Arabic massa meaning “to touch, feel or handle” or from Latin massa meaning “mass, dough”.In distinction the ancient Greek word for massage was anatripsis , and the Latin was frictio .
Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different recognized massage modalities. In professional settings massage involves the client being treated while lying on a massage table, sitting in a massage chair, or lying on a mat on the floor. The massage subject may be fully or partly unclothed. Parts of the body may be covered with towels or sheets.
Medical Massage – is outcome-based massage. It is primarily the application of specific treatment protocols targeted to the specific problem(s) the patient presents with physician’s diagnosis and administered after a thorough assessment/evaluation by the massage therapist.
Myofascial Release – is a form of soft tissue therapy used to treat somatic dysfunction and accompanying pain and restriction of motion. Relaxing contracted muscles, increasing circulation, increasing venous and lymphatic drainage, and stimulating the stretch reflex of muscles and overlying fascia, accomplish this. It is a manual massage technique for stretching the fascia and releasing bonds between fascia, integument, and muscles with the goal of eliminating pain, increasing range of motion and improving balance. Myofascial release usually involves applying shear compression or tension in various directions, or by skin rolling.
NCTMB – is an independent, private, nonprofit organization formed to set high standards of ethical and professional practice through a recognized, credible credentialing program. NCBTMB also promotes the worth of National Certification to the public and the profession, maintains the quality of the National Certification Program, and requires continuing education to keep practitioners current with advances in the field. NCBTMB certifies massage therapists and bodyworkers on behalf of the profession for the benefit of consumers, employers and practitioners.
Neuromuscular Technique – a comprehensive program of soft tissue manipulation techniques that balance the central nervous system (brain, spinal column and nerves) with the structure and form of the musculoskeletal system. NMT is based on neurological laws that explain how the central nervous system maintains homeostatic balance.
Nuad BoRarn – is a type of massage in Thai style that involves stretching and deep massage. This form of bodywork is usually performed on the floor, and the client wears comfortable clothes that allow for movement. No oils are used in Thai massage. It is known in Thailand as “nuat phaen boran” (Thai: นวดแผนโบราณ, IPA: [nuɑt pʰɛn boraːn]), literally, the ancient-manner massage.
OMT (Osteopathic Manipulative Technique) – encompasses the treatment of health ailments of various etiologies through ‘hands-on’, physical intervention. Physical treatments includes massage, soft tissue mobilization, various connective tissue techniques, myofascial release, craniosacraltechniques, mobilization of joints, joint manipulation, mobilization of neural tissue, visceral mobilization, and strain and counterstrain.
Orthopedic Massage – orthopedic massage applies to treatment of conditions resulting from any number of activities, such as work, sports, or accidents. It is presented as a comprehensive system for the treatment of soft tissue orthopedic disorders.
Pregnancy Massage – the prenatal use of massage therapy to support the physiologic, structural, and emotional well-being of both mother and fetus. Various forms of massage therapy, including Swedish, deep tissue, neuromuscular, movement, and Oriental-based therapies, may be applied throughout pregnancy as well as during labor and the postpartum period.
Petrissage – are massage movements with applied pressure which are deep and compress the underlying muscles. Kneading, wringing, skin rolling and pick-up-and-squeeze are the petrissage movements.They are all performed with the padded palmar surface of the hand, the surface of the finger and also the thumbs.
PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) is a procedure designed in the 1940s and 1950s to rehabilitate patients with paralysis. It is often a combination of passive stretching and isometrics contractions. In the 1980s, components of PNF began to be used by sport therapists on healthy athletes. The most common PNF leg or arm positions encourage flexibility and coordination throughout the limb’s entire range of motion. PNF is used to supplement daily stretching and is employed to make quick gains in range of motion to help athletes improve performance. Good range of motion makes better biomechanics, reduces fatigue and helps prevent overuse injuries. PNF is practiced by physical therapists, massage therapists, athletic trainers and others.
QiGong (or ch’i kung ) is an internal Chinese meditative practice which often uses slow graceful movements and controlled breathing techniques to promote the circulation of qi within the human body, and enhance a practitioner’s overall health. There are also many forms of qigong that are done with little or no movement at all, in standing, sitting and supine positions; likewise, not all forms of qigong use breath control techniques.
Range of Motion(ROM) is the measurement of the achievable distance between the flexed position and the extended position of a particular joint or muscle group.
Active – a measurement of ROM where the joint being measured is moved without any physical assistance.
Passive – a measurement of ROM where the joint being measured is totally assisted by an outside force.
Shiatsu – Shiatsu (指圧) (“shi” meaning finger and “atsu” meaning pressure.) is an eastern (oriental) born therapy that uses pressure applied with thumbs, fingers and palms to the same energy meridians as acupressure and incorporates stretching. It also uses techniques such as rolling, brushing, vibrating, grasping and in one particular technique developed by Suzuki Yamamoto, pressure is applied with the feet on the persons back, legs and feet (special set up is required for the “foot” shiatsu). Seymour Koblin of the Pacific School of Healing Arts, and Ohashi of the Ohashi Institute trained Xerlan. Christopher was trained through Massage Therapy Institute of Oklahoma.
Sports Massage – a form of bodywork geared toward participants in athletics. It is used to help prevent injuries, to prepare the body for athletic activity and maintain it in optimal condition, and to help athletes recover from workouts and injuries. Xerlan and Christopher have extensive training in Sports Massage with James Waslaski, Eric Dalton, Whitney Lowe, Myk Hungerford, D’Jango Sanders, and Benny Vaughn. They have worked with several NCAA athletic programs, professional athletes, and many high school and intramural athletes.
Strain-Counterstrain – a type of “passive positional release” created in the early 1960s by Lawrence Jones, D.O. It is a hands-on treatment that alleviates muscle and connective tissue tightness by the use of very specific treatment positions held for 90 seconds (can be hold up to 3 minutes in neurological patients). During the procedure, the involved tissue is “slackened” causing a relaxation of the “spasm” which, in turn, allows local areas of inflammation, trapped within the painful tissue to dissipate. Following this “release” there is an immediate reduction of pain and tension in the involved tissue. This relaxation helps restore normal joint mobility and is also beneficial to other structures in the region that may have been compressed. This gentle and painless technique is a very effective treatment for a wide variety of orthopedic conditions such as headaches, fibromyalgia, sciatica, tendinitis, chronic neck pain, and post-surgical conditions. Xerlan and Christopher have extensive training in Strain – Counterstrain with osteopathic physicans at Oklahoma State University and in the classroom with several noted osteopathic physicians.
Stretching – a form of physical activity in which a specific skeletal muscle (or muscle group) is deliberately elongated to its fullest length (often by abduction from the torso) in order to improve the muscle’s felt elasticity and reaffirm comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also used therapeutically to alleviate cramps.
Active Stretching – A method of increasing active flexibility in which a pose (such as a high lift of the leg) is assumed and then held using no assistance other than the tension in the muscles opposing the muscles being stretched.
Ballistic Stretching – The use of momentum or “bouncing” to force a limb beyond its range of motion in order to warm up or increase flexibility. Examples would be leg swings or bouncing in splits. Such stretches can be dangerous and may lead to injury, however if done carefully (with light force and small amplitude of bounce), experienced stretchers may benefit from these exercises.
Dynamic Stretching – a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilizing momentum from form, static-active stretching strength and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static-passive stretching ability. Anything beyond this range of motion becomes ballistic stretching. It is a type of stretching whilst moving, as opposed to static stretching in which one stands still.
Passive Stretching – is a form of static stretching in which an external force exerts upon the limb to move it into the new position. This is in contrast to active stretching. Passive stretching resistance is normally achieved through the force of gravity on the limb or on the body weighing down on it. It can also be achieved with the help of a partner, stretch bands, or mechanical devices. The more force exerted on the limb, the less time it will take to drop lower into the stretch, but this increases the potential for injury.
Resistive stretching – is a form of stretching in which a muscle simultaneously contracts and elongates.
Static Stretching – is used to stretch muscles while the body is at rest. It is composed of various techniques that gradually lengthen a muscle to an elongated position (to the point of discomfort) and hold that position for 30 seconds to two minutes. 30 seconds is the minimum duration to get the benefits of stretching, whereas two minutes is the maximum (if a position can be held for more than two minutes, a farther stretch should be performed). During this holding period or directly afterwards, participants may feel a mild discomfort or warm sensation in the muscles. Static stretching exercises involve specialized tension receptors in our muscles. When done properly, static stretching slightly lessens the sensitivity of tension receptors, which allows the muscle to relax and to be stretched to greater length.
Swedish Massage – Swedish massage uses five basic styles of long, flowing strokes to massage. The five basic strokes are effleurage (sliding or gliding), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (rhythmic tapping), friction (cross fiber) and vibration/shaking. Swedish massage has shown to be helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness, and improving function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee over a period of eight weeks. It has also been shown to be helpful in individuals with poor circulation. The development of Swedish massage is credited to Per Henrik Ling, though the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes. The term “Swedish” massage is not really known in the country of Sweden, where it is called “classic massage”. Some schools of thought also include Compression techniques in basic Swedish Massage.
Tapotement – a rhythmic percussion, most frequently administered with the edge of the hand, a cupped hand or the tips of the fingers. Using the edge of the hand is also called Hacking. With the fingers, you wiggle them and lightly tap on the body. It is primarily used as a stimulating stroke and can release lymphatic build up in the back and gently tap the shoulder of the client.The name of the stroke is taken from the French word “Tapoter”, meaning to tap or to drum.
Trager- a mind-body approach to movement education. It is a system of gentle, rhythmic movement and touch aimed at facilitating deep relaxation, increased physical mobility, and promoting the body’s optimal performance. There are several aspects of the approach: one in which the client passively receives the movement work on a padded table from a Trager practitioner; and another aspect, in which the client is taught to actively explore comfortable, free movement for themselves, is called Mentastics . Underlying to the basic aim of psychophysical integration in the Trager Approach, is a form of neuromuscular re-education called Reflex Response. This aspect of Dr.Trager’s work actively involves the client in awakening the connection between mind and body. Xerlan and Christopher have been introduced to Trager, but are not considered Trager Practitioners, nor do we offer Trager sessions. We do respect and employ some Trager style bodywork, when called for, though.
Trigger Point Therapy – this involves deactivating trigger points that may cause local pain or refer pain and other sensations, such as headaches, in other parts of the body. Manual pressure, vibration, injection, or other treatment is applied to these points to relieve myofascial pain. Trigger points were first discovered and mapped by Janet G. Travell (president Kennedy’s physician) and David Simons. Trigger points have been photomicrographed and measured electrically. In 2007 a paper was presented showing images of Trigger Points using MRI. These points relate to dysfunction in the myoneural junction, also called neuromuscular junction (NMJ), in muscle, and therefore this modality is different from reflexology, acupressure and pressure point massage.
Active – the trigger point modality where the practitioner shortens the tissue, applies a contact tension and lengthens the tissue or makes it slide relative to the adjacent tissue
Neutral – the trigger point modality where the practitioner isolates the trigger point and holds it to facilitate the body releasing the surrounding tension.
Passive – the trigger point modality where the practitioner isolates the trigger point in the tissue, applies a contact tension and shortens the affected musculature, facilitating the release of the trigger point and the tension surrounding the affected area.