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Natural Choices for Relaxation and Pain Relief

By Charles Hopkins Published 05/25/2007 | Alternative Medicine

It seems more and more people are turning to natural healing methods for relief from aches and pains these days. Besides relieving the aches and pains, these methods can help release stress and return a sense of balance to the person who craves a break from a hectic lifestyle. There are hundreds of variations of these natural healing methods, or bodywork styles.

These methods don't involve any surgery, prescription drugs or invasive procedures as are routinely practiced by medical professionals and so can be considered natural. This is a type of treatment offered by skilled body workers who combine their healing techniques with the natural healing powers of the body to bring about wholeness.

Of course, it is definitely recommended that anyone with any severe or chronic pain or concern should consult with a licensed medical professional even if they choose to seek help with a natural healing method as well.

One of the better-known and more popular natural healing methods is massage therapy. There are as many forms of massage therapy as there are practitioners. Although many communities require that massage therapists attend formal training and be licensed, there is a lot of room for individuality in the practice.

Massage involves the manipulation of the soft tissue of the body. This is rubbing, kneading, pressing, and touching the skin of the client using various strokes, patterns and levels of pressure to impact the tissue below. Massage impacts the nervous system, the lymph system, circulation, digestion, muscles - you name it.

To be clear, the variety of massage available is not only due to differences in the therapists' styles, since there are many established techniques and schools. Swedish is probably the most fundamental in the west, while others include sports massage, neuromuscular, and trigger point, to name just a few.

Shiatsu Massage is Japanese in origin, although it has its roots in Chinese medicine. Shiatsu involves putting pressure on various points on the body, following the meridian pathways, to release any blocks in the system and so allow the chi to flow freely. This will then restore balance and health to the body. These therapists mostly use their thumbs in their work, but also use their fingers, palms, and even their feet when appropriate.

Although the experience of Swedish and Shiatsu massage is very different, the effects can be very similar. A Shiatsu massage can lead to feelings of deep relaxation and balance while also affecting the body's systems in healing ways.

In addition to massage, there are many other bodywork techniques. Many are hands on, involving actual touch of the body like massage. Other styles work just within the energy field of the body, and do not involve actual physical touch at all. Then there are some, like Healing Touch, that offer a combination.

Whatever the ailment someone might experience, whether it is physical, emotional, or mental, there is a natural bodywork method that could assist in the healing process. Trying out a few of the techniques to find out which styles you like the best can be a very enjoyable and relaxing experience.