Side Bar Top Bar Active Recovery  Logo

The Gaia Centre for Holistic Therapy,

17 Frederick Street, Loughborough,

Leicestershire, LE11 3BH


Tel: 01509 556101

© Copyright 2012 - Active Recovery - All Rights Reserved.

Massage stretches the ligaments and tendons keeping them supple, and stimulates the skin and nervous system. It also stimulates lymphatic flow, improving tissue drainage and boosting your immune system (see Case Studies for examples of medical benefits).

Embody Guide to Massage *

There are a wide variety of types of massage, many of which can be interwoven with techniques that might more properly be called ‘bodywork’, as they incorporate manipulation of whole body segments. On the following pages we present a brief guide to the various forms of massage.


Most deep tissue forms of massage are based on traditional Swedish massage. Swedish massage uses light gliding strokes to warm up the muscles and tissues, and then employs a variety of kneading actions to improve muscle tone, ease joints, and smooth out restrictions in muscle tissue. The idea is to push blood into the muscle and tone up muscles to protect against injury. These actions on the muscular tissue triggers the lymphatic drainage system into flushing out metabolic waste products (and other toxins) formed by the various chemical reactions that take place in our your body’s cells.

What's it best for?

This kind of massage is particularly good for conditions brought on by various forms of muscular exertion (exercise, sport, manual occupation, and muscle tightness brought on by mental or physical stress). Although it can target the whole body, it is particularly effective for relieving tension in the neck†, shoulders and back, because practitioners use a kneading and pulling action that stretches the ligaments and tendons, helping to keep them supple. These forms of massage are frequently rounded off with quick hacking/pounding strokes (as seen in films and associated with ‘Turkish Sauna’ massage).

Includes: Any Deep Tissue massage style - see later.

* (Note:The Embody links provide access to expanded explanations of the therapies).

Page 1

Did you know there are more than 50 ways to massage?

But which one is right for you?

At one time receiving a massage meant having a relaxing Swedish massage. Today, there are over 50 different types of massage to choose from - ranging from Western Deep Tissue techniques, through Oriental and Indian massage styles, to heat treatments and techniques that target postural malalignment. With so many massage modalities on offer, how do you know which one to choose?

Well, you know, massage can feel sinfully good. The truth is, it can be one of the best 'healing through relaxation' therapies for you, especially during times of change and stress such as changing jobs, moving house, menopause, post op, and sports recovery. This soothing therapy has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce muscle pain, improve joint flexibility & Range of Movement, and alleviate headaches, just to name a few of its healing powers. Most people think of massage in terms of muscle aches, but it's much more than that. It increases blood flow to your muscles, other soft tissues, and every cell in your body that brings oxygen and nutrients to these critical areas.

So What is Massage?

Massage refers to the use of a collection of techniques whereby manipulation, pressure, or friction is applied to your muscles and other soft tissues of your body. These therapies are based on the fact that your soft tissues respond to touch. Manipulation of these tissues can result in relaxation, increased circulation, and faster and more effective removal of metabolic waste products.

massage guide

Embody Logo

Eastern Techniques

These forms are routed in techniques developed from the principles of Ayurvedic (India) and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Eastern massage tends to focus on techniques that manipulate your body's energy system known as 'chi'. As with Acupuncture, from which many of these techniques are derived, it is claimed that energy flows along meridians - or energy pathways - found in various places around your body. Practitioners state that when the meridians become blocked, illness occurs. In order to unblock energy, pressure is applied on (Acupressure), or needles inserted in (Acupuncture) certain points located along these meridian lines. According to the theory, each point corresponds to specific internal organs in your body.

What's it best for?

It is said that Eastern Massage techniques can improve digestive conditions, menstrual problems, and asthma. The techniques also stretch muscles and loosen joints, so they are especially good for treating back pain, shoulder tension, and headaches†.

Includes: Reiki, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Thai massage, and Do-in, a technique developed by Chinese Taoist monks.


Hot stone (or hot towel) therapy is a treatment that involves heating stones and placing them on the body or using them in the massage strokes. This 'thermotherapy' boosts your circulation, by creating an aerobic effect in the blood - i.e. making it speed up and slow down (if cold stones are also employed). Increased circulation brings fresh blood to your skin, muscles, and soft tissues, warming them up. The process also helps the body to rid itself of toxins more efficiently, providing relaxation and stress relief.

During the treatment the therapist applies massage oil, then places hot basalt stones heated to about 60° C on your chakra points. These are seven areas of the body that are considered crossroads for energy meridians. Warm stones may also be placed underneath the hands and between the toes.

What's it best for?

All kinds of tension-related problems particularly in the area of the neck and shoulders, which can be a root of headaches.

Includes: LaStone therapy, Healing Stone Massage, Lomilomi (Hawaiian), and Balinese massage.


The focus in aromatherapy is not the massage per se. Rather the therapy focuses on the properties of ‘Essential’ oils. These are base massage oils containing the essences of certain plant extracts. Aromatherapy practitioners blend oils to address specific health problems. For example, Lemon and Pine are used for relaxation, Marjoram is often used for stress, whereas Eucalyptus targets respiratory conditions. The kneading and pummelling movements used in other Western forms are seldom used. Instead, this style of massage employs light, gliding strokes.It is believed that Essential oils work in two ways. When used in massage, they are absorbed by the skin, pass into the blood stream and move on to work on different organs in the body. If evaporated in special ‘burners’ and the fragrances inhaled, then they pass through the nerve endings in the nasal passage and pass directly to the limbic centre of the brain, which controls your emotions.

What's it best for?

Flu, colds, asthma, bronchitis, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue, and menstrual complaints.

Includes: Deep-working and light touch aromatherapy massage.

† See report about Massage and High Blood Pressure/Heart conditions.

Page 2

Body Massage - This form of massage, also known as Swedish Massage, is probably the most common form of massage. Its main goal is relaxation and improved circulation. The therapist applies oil to your skin and uses flowing strokes and kneading movements to relieve tension in your muscles. The treatment incorporates light and deep movements, allowing your mind and body to unwind through the release of tension from your muscles, also stimulating your body's circulatory systems. Long-term benefits can include an overall feeling of well-being and increased confidence. It may also help to improve your muscle tone and the appearance of your skin.

Embody Guide to Swedish Massage

Clinical & Remedial Massage - Clinical and remedial massage is a form of Deep Tissue massage (see Page 4), which can help remedy specific acute and chronic conditions such as frozen shoulder, neck pain, migraine and sciatica. This type of massage is more vigorous and uses various movement strokes to loosen your muscles. It helps break patterns of tension, relieves chronic pain, including inflammation-related pain such as tendonitis, and improves range of motion.

Indian Head Massage - This therapy focuses on the region that extends from your skull, down your neck, to the top of your spine. It manipulates the soft tissues and muscles of your head and the skull, spinal cord, cerebrospinal fluid, and surrounding membranes. The therapist uses a light touch to increase blood flow and restore cerebrospinal fluid move-ment. This can help treat such conditions as headaches, eye and ear problems, as well as whiplash and back pain. It can also be very relaxing.

Indian Head massage evolved from traditional Ayurvedic techniques practised in India for over two thousand years. The Massage may be applied with or without oils. It is non-invasive and can be carried out with you fully clothed. It offers benefits in a wide range of stress related conditions, as well as making you feel good.

Embody Guide to Indian Head Massage

Reflexology - Reflexology is much more than a relaxing foot massage. Through specific pressure massage of reflexes on your feet, which it is believed, correspond to particular parts of your body, it is possible to relax and harmonise your whole body. This gentle therapy restores balance to your energy levels and can help with a range of symptoms.

Embody Guide to Reflexology

Page 3

Gaia Holistic Therapy Centre Massage Treatments


Body (Swedish) Massage

Clinical & Remedial Massage

Indian Head Massage



Sports/Deep Tissue Massage

Thai (Medical) Massage

Aromatherapy - Is the ancient art of using high quality essential oils extracted from various aromatic flowers, plants and trees. The therapist incorporates essential oils into your massage. They select the proper oils based on your particular physical condition and blend them into a massage oil or lotion. The blend of oils is chosen according to your individual physical and mental needs and is then massaged into your skin, which absorbs the oils and distributes them throughout your body system via the blood stream. Each treatment can leave you feeling grounded, calm, and deeply relaxed. The end result is a relaxing massage tailored to your individual needs.

Embody Guide to Aromatherapy

Reiki - This therapy is an Eastern method, originating from Japan at the turn of the 20th Century. Reiki, which means “universal life energy”, and is based on the idea that a disruption in your body’s energy field causes illness. In this therapy, it is believed that channelling your energy can cause disease-making negative energy to be replaced with health promoting positive energy. It brings healing energy to your organs and glands in order to bring your body back into balance and help prevent disease.The massage practitioner places their hands on or just above your body to realign your 'chakras' and dissolve toxic substances from your physical and emotional being. People often feel warmth or tingling sensations during Reiki.

Reiki is used to relieve many symptoms of chronic illness such as anxiety, insomnia, back pain and arthritis, and it often produces long-term beneficial changes. Most of our clients report that Reiki treatments feel wonderful and often promote a sense of relaxation and well being.

Embody Guide to Reiki

Shiatsu - Originating from Japan, Shiatsu is a form of massage that uses ‘finger pressure’ applied to your main energy pathways, or meridians, within the body. This technique is similar to Acupressure where the practitioner uses their fingers, thumbs, palms, elbows, knees (and sometimes even feet - they walk on you!), to put pressure on acupuncture healing points. In a similar fashion to Acupuncture, Shiatsu aims to correct energy imbalances by releasing energy blockages, and moving energy into areas that are depleted. This unblocks the flow of energy and encourages blood and lymphatic flow. It also promotes relaxation and strengthens your body against disease and restores balance.

Shiatsu has been used to treat a range of conditions including back, neck and shoulder pain, circulatory problems, digestive disorders, sinusitis, catarrh, asthma and bronchitis, migraine, headaches, chronic fatigue and stress related problems such as anxiety and depression. Scientific research has suggested that pressure applied during treatments may encourage your body to release endorphins (natural painkillers). Some of our clients feel very relaxed and sleepy after a Shiatsu treatment, whilst others leave feeling invigorated and energised.

Embody Guide to Shiatsu

Sports/Deep Tissue Massage - Sports massage therapy is a form of deep soft tissue manipulation that uses several specific techniques to treat physically active individuals, anyone involved in heavy-duty physical activities and sport performance who may be more vulnerable to injury because of the stresses placed on their body by exertion. Sports massage can relieve niggling aches and pains before they develop into more serious overuse injuries. It can also be great for post event relaxation and recovery,and help to relieve stress, tension, and fatigue.

Sports massage is generally used to provide rehabilitation from soft tissue injury, to maintain muscular conditioning and joint flexibility for competition, in order to maximise athletic potential. In addition it eases the effects caused by severe exercise such as myofascial shortening i.e. restrictions in your body's contractile (muscle) and non-contractile supportive (fascia) connective tissues. Therefore it can help keep your body flexible, aid your performance, and assist you in rehabilitation from injuries.

Embody Guide to Sports Massage / Embody Guide to Deep Tissue Massage

Thai (Medical) Massage - Thai Massage has been used in Thailand for the past 2,500 years but little is known about it in the west. It works by treating your body as a whole, not just what appear to be your symptoms. Thai Massage works muscles and skeletal structure along with your body’s internal energy system, to release tension and allow your energy to flow freely.Thai Massage is traditionally carried out on the floor (as opposed to a massage couch), and you remain fully dressed. The treatment is quite physical and is applied by using rhythmic yogic movements as well as acupressure and various manipulative techniques that include thumb pressure, and hand, feet, and elbow compressions to release tension. It can also double as a Sports Massage therapy, as it can be very deep, while manipulating the muscles (in the East it is often used in conjunction with the Martial Arts).

Embody Guide to Thai Massage

If you require further information about massage in general, or the various types and styles of massage, please feel free to contact us.

Page 4