Explorations in the Theory and Practice 
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Swedish Massage Glossary of Terms

Active assisted movement- Movement in a joint in which both the client and therapist produce the motion together.

Active free movement-  Movement of a joint freely through its range of motion, unassisted: done by client alone.

Acute-signs and symptoms happen quickly, last a short amount of time and then disappear.

Adhesion- Abnormal adherence of collagen fibers  within connective tissue to surrounding structures following trauma or stress; as a result of surgery.  restrict the normal elasticity of these structures as well as the transfer of electrolytes and other fluids.

Autonomic Nervous System-  The body system that regulates involuntary body functions such as action of glands, smooth muscles and the heart.  It consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.

Atrophy- Wasting away or decrease in size of  something, due to disease or other factors such as nutrition or lack of use.

Beating - a form of heavy tapotement  usually using the fist.

Chronic- disease or condition that develops slowly and lasts for a long time.





Compression- Massage petrissage stroke, applied with fist, palm, heel of hand or fingertips; used to spread tissue against underlying structures; can vary in pace and depth.

Connective tissue- The most abundant type of tissue in the body, providing support, structure, framework, space, stabilization and scar formation; binds structures together.

Contraindications- factors that indicate that the treatment is not advised, unless further evaluation by a physician can recommend a treatment plan.

Desquamation- The shedding of epethelial tissue; mainly the skin  as in exfoliation.

Effleurage- gliding stroke; does not access the muscle layer; following the fiber direction of the underlying muscle

Friction- circular or transverse technique that focuses on the underlying tissue.

Gate Theory- A hypothetical mechanism that diminishes pain.  There is a gate through which pain impulses travel.  Pain signals travel to the Central nervous system on unmyelinated nerve pathways, which are a slower route to the brain.  Pressure, touch, vibration, and temperature signals travel on the faster myelinated nerve pathways.  These signals will arrive first and block out the sensation of pain.

Golgi Tendon Receptors- receptors in the tendons that sense tension; found mostly near the junction of tendons and muscles.  It will trigger a central nervous system response which will inhibit muscular contraction when the tendon is in danger of tearing due to excessive tension.

Hyperemia- an excess of blood in an area or body part; usually indicated by red, flushed color or heat in the area.

Hyperesthesia- Unusual sensitivity to sensory stimulus, hyper irritalbility, or increased muscular sensitivity to pain.

Hypertonicity-  Excess muscle tone

Hypertrophy- An increased size in muscle or thickening of muscle tissue in response to increases stress.

Inflammation- characterized by pain, heat, redness, swelling; usually as a result of an injury or infection.

Ischemia-  Local and temporary decrease in blood flow to an area.

Kneading- Petrissage; rhythmical lifting of tissue; rolling or squeezing; pulling away from underlying tissue.

Mechanical Effect- based on structural changes in the tissue; primary effects created manually; as a direct result of the application of the technique.

Myofascial- affecting the connective tissue of the body

Muscle spasm- a non-voluntary contraction of the motor unit of a muscle; usually causing a contraction without shortening the muscle; can be a result of mental, physical, emotional, chemical stress.

Peristalsis- Successive muscular contractions along the wall of a hollow muscular structure such as the movement of food through the intestine and colon.

Petrissage- kneading; rhythmic rolling, lifting, squeezing, wringing of sort tissue.

Proprioceptor- a receptor located in muscles, tendons or joints that provides information about body movement an position.

Reflexive effect- secondary effects that occur as a result of the massage technique but we do not cause directly or manually.

Scar tissue-  tissue that results from healing of wounds; It is composed of collagenous fibers which will restrict normal elasticity of tissue involved.

Stroke- a technique of therapeutic massage; applying to the surface or deeper structures of the body.

Tapotement- percussive movement that are applied to the body, rhythmically.

Vibration- fine, coarse tremulus movement that creates reflexive responses




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