The joys of a massage or the relief of a chiropractic adjustment?and the stresses of physical work?play out partly in the muscles. Learn just what pumps the body up with Groupon?s guide to the muscular system.
The human body has more than 630 muscles keeping it upright and mobile. They make up almost half its weight and power the movements of the bones, the blood, and even the food in the stomach. Perhaps the most familiar muscles are those seen in bodybuilding contests and facial-expression contests: the skeletal, or voluntary, muscles. They?re attached to our bones and controlled by our brains, which zap them with electrical signals to cause their fibers to contract. During a muscle contraction, filaments inside the muscle fibers slide together, stacking up on one another so that the larger fiber shortens. In shortening, the fibers gain thickness?a phenomenon we notice as flexing. Whatever muscles do, they accomplish by this single pulling action. If a bicep (part of a category of muscles known as flexors) flexes to lift a barbell, it needs a tricep (an extensor), pulling in the opposite direction, to bring the arm back down.
The other two types of muscles are smooth muscles and cardiac muscles, and both are beyond our conscious control. Cardiac muscles control the beating of the heart, contracting the chambers to push blood throughout the body. But the blood doesn?t ride to the toes on that momentum alone. Lining the blood vessels are smooth muscles that help push it along. These also line the esophagus, stomach, and intestine to move food through the digestive track, and can even help regulate the body?s temperature by opening and closing capillaries near the skin surface, all without conscious effort. The subconscious brain is also happy to turn muscles to ends beyond their apparent purpose: for instance, what we experience as shivering from cold is simply the brain causing the muscles to spasm so they will generate heat and keep your blood and any baby chicks in your coat pockets warm.
Luke Maynard, founder and head therapist of Therapeutic Release, graduated from the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy in 2008. He uses his knowledge of physical anatomy and body movement to identify and correct muscular imbalances with three types of massage?anti-stress (Swedish), deep tissue, and sports.
Luke works alongside Samantha Troilo, a licensed massage therapist who specializes in anti-stress and deep-tissue massage. Personalizing her massage techniques for the individual client, she wants to be able to augment her massage therapy with therapeutic release.
Massage therapist Claire Nortz throws a new modality into the mix: Ashiatsu Oriental Bar Therapy, which involves delivering long, broad strokes and firm pressure with her feet. She also relies on acupressure, trigger-point release, and stretching to release muscle tension and boost mobility.
At Elysium Therapeutic Massage, a licensed massage therapist helps patients overcome stress and tension with customized treatments. The repertoire of modalities includes Swedish, deep-tissue, scalp, and prenatal techniques.
Shelley is a skincare specialist working out of Health In Harmony, a full-service wellness spa dedicated to transformation in its many forms. Shelly offers microdermabrasion treatments and other skincare services that help clients regain radiant, youthful-looking complexions.
Shelly joins a staff of massage therapists, hairstylists, and acupuncturists who all work toward the same goal: to instill health, wellness, and beauty in their clients. Anti-aging facials are administered alongside therapeutic massages, and men's and women's haircuts and color treatments share menu space with ear candling and reflexology. Clients can also opt for infrared sauna therapy or a session on the power plate platform, which uses whole-body vibration to target cellulite and strengthen muscles.
Serenity Now's owner and certified massage therapist Ruth Ann Fallon offers modalities of massage that range from relaxation to treating persistent pain. Many of her massage options are tailored to the needs of specific groups, such as athletes, teens, and mothers-to-be, each customizable with add-ons such as hot towels and hydrating skin treatments.
Yolo Laser Center & Med Spa’s licensed clinicians douse clients in a cornucopia of rejuvenating facial and massage services that quickly distinguished the clinic as Best New Business in 2009, according to the Guilford Chamber of Commerce. During the 60-minute spa package, clients sojourn into a private room where a skilled aesthetician administers a therapeutic massage, coaxing tension out of the neck and shoulders with gliding strokes and tenderly written court subpoenas. Then, after evaluating skin type and condition, the aesthetician tailors a Yolo signature facial that gently sloughs off dead cells, uncorks pores with light extractions, and slathers skin with an anti-aging serum designed to firm falling countenances.