This month I thought I would continue the newsletter in relation to massage and discuss forms of energy therapies. Some forms of energy therapies include a light touch, while others do not. Energy Therapy is an array of therapies that generally work with the field of energy that surrounds the body, which is sometimes referred to as the aura or biofield. It also refers to the fields of energy that flow throughout or within the body like the flow of the spinal fluid, meridians or chakras. Years ago, doctors and scientists wouldn't even admit that there were such fields of energy, now they are changing their opinions.
Energy Therapy is used to nurture and support the body's own innate ability to heal. Types of Energy Therapies would include Healing Touch, Reiki, Polarity Therapy, Myofascial Release, and Cranio Sacral Therapy. Before I go into a brief description of each of these modalities, I think it is important to know that energy therapies are best explained through physics and holistic healing. Energy fields are not easily seen or felt by everyone and currently are not definitively described. Most of us however, are aware that these energy systems exists. It is also important to note that during any Energy Therapy session, it is important for the practitioner to express good intentions and concern for their client during the session. Building a strong and trusting relationships is important. Below is a brief description of these various types of therapies.
Healing Touch is a form of energy therapy that uses a gentle touch. Its purpose is to balance the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of an individual. Healing Touch focuses on the energy field that surrounds the body as well as the flow of energy coming from the body. Healing Touch is a very non-invasive form of energy that restores balance and harmony in the client's field so their body is better able to focus on its innate healing capabilities. Some benefits of Healing Touch includes stress and pain reduction, enhancing one's immune system, shortening recovery time after surgery. Healing touch also has a very calming effect which helps with anxiety, and has been found especially supportive in cancer care.
Reiki Therapy is based on an old Japanese Technique designed to reduce stress and promote relaxation and healing. Rei means "God's Wisdom" and Ki refers to "life force energy". Reiki is very spiritual in nature yet one doesn't have to be very spiritual to benefit from it. Reiki focuses on the energy that flows through us (chakras) and uses a "laying on of hands" technique. Reiki addresses the body, the emotions, the mind and the spirit. It is very relaxing and promotes feelings of peace and security. Reiki, although it is not a religion, it is however somewhat of a lifestyle where one practices ethical ideas promoting peace and harmony.
Polarity Therapy is a science and an art and was developed by Dr. Randolph Stone. It was developed on information that was obtained from a wide range of sources including Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine. It is based on the belief that energy fields are affected by many things including diet, movement, attitudes, environment and overall life experiences. Not only does Polarity Therapy involve an understanding of energy mapping throughout the body, including the five natural elements and seven chakras, it also uses the application of bodywork where the practitioner locates and frees the area of blocked energy. Polarity Therapy uses a combination of gentle hands on work that penetrates the body, dietary changes to enhance detoxification and promote healthier habits, deep breathing and stretching exercises, and improving ones mental and spiritual image and connectedness.
Craniosacral Therapy was developed by John Upledger, an Osteopathic Physician and is a hands-on form of evaluating and enhancing the function of the body's craniosacral system. Craniosacral therapists use a soft touch hands on technique (usually no heavier than the weight of a nickel) to release restrictions in the craniosacral system and to improve the communication and function of the central nervous system. Craniosacral therapists focus on the rhythm of this fluid, which is generated by pressure changes throughout the head and spinal column as the cerebrospinal fluid is produced and absorbed. The craniosacral system has a rhythm of 6-12 cycles per minute. Dr. Sutherland (one of the pioneers) studied this rhythm or motion of the cranial bones and felt that its movement involved a network of interrelated tissues and fluids at the core of the body. Craniosacral therapy is very gentle and subtle and focuses on the palpitations of this rhythm. The therapist, by gentle touch and a type of "laying on of hands" can aid the body in "unlocking or "releasing" muscle constraints and spasms, pain, discomfort, and other patterns in the body.
Myofascial Release is a very specialized form of massage or energy therapy (I myself think it is somewhere in-between) that focuses on soft tissue concerns. Fascia is the thin tissue that covers the organs and muscles of the body. When you strain or over stretch your muscle you are also affecting the fascia that surrounds it. When you injure the muscle fibers the muscle and the fascia that surrounds it becomes tight which causes it to shorten. When the areas are tight, the fascia can transmit this stress to other areas of the body causing pain and many other symptoms. Stretching the fascia releasing this tightness and shortness is what myofascial release is. The therapist feels the body to find the areas of tightness and then applies a light stretch to the area and fascia. The therapist waits to feel for the relax of the fascia and then increases the stretch. This is a very relaxing type of therapy that focues on equalizing the muscle tension throughout the body. Many individuals have found this type of therapy very beneficial and relaxing and one of its major benefits is pain reduction.
Energy therapies work well alongside almost any other medical or therapeutic technique to help promote recovery. Although it is difficult to measure and understand the exact mechanisms of physics that occur during Energy Therapy sessions, one thing is known by the individuals performing the therapy and the individuals receiving the therapy that "something is happening" and that the outcome is positive and beneficial. Energy Therapy focuses on balancing any imbalances in the various energy fields of the body and the balancing of these fields seems to help balance the body, mind and spirit.Written by Mara Gerke, CA, CNHP, All Rights Reserved.