The Therapeutic Effects Of Massage


The History Of Massage

Massage may well be the oldest and simplest form of medical care. Paintings of people giving and receiving them have been found in Egyptian tombs. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it as a primary form of medical treatment and the Chinese had documented the benefits as far back as 3,000BC. Today’s massage therapists practice a wide variety of techniques originating from ancient methods. From those roots, they remain inspired by a goal nurtured centuries ago – to help others heal their physical and emotional well-being and experience a higher quality of life. Massage is now used in intensive care units, for children, elderly people, babies in incubators, and patients with cancer, AIDS, heart attacks, or strokes just to name a few. Most American hospices have some kind of bodywork therapy available, and it is frequently offered in health centers, drug treatment clinics, and pain clinics.

The Health Benefits Of Massage

Massage is generally considered part of complementary and alternative medicine. It is increasingly being offered along with standard treatment for a wide range of medical conditions and situations. Studies of the benefits demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension.

Studies have found massage may also be helpful for:

  • Anxiety
  • Digestive disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia related to stress
  • Myofascial pain syndrome
  • Paresthesias and nerve pain
  • Soft tissue strains or injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Temporomandibular joint pain

Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often involves caring, comfort, a sense of empowerment.

The Different Types Of Massage

Each type of massage has its own specific healing process:

  1. Swedish Massage – usually lasts from 30 minutes to one hour with the most benefit being gained from an hour. The person receiving it is usually undressed and draped with a sheet. Relaxing soft music is usually played. The therapist uses long strokes to soothe the muscles and tendons. The amount of pressure of each stroke depends upon the comfort zone of the patient. A full body Swedish massage begins with the scalp and face and proceeds to the extremities, finally ending with the back area. The benefits are increased circulation of the massaged area, release of endorphins because of the strokes, loosening of muscles and relaxation of the mind.
  2. Deep Tissue Massage – used to relieve the muscles of “knots” or adhesions and to stretch and strengthen tendons. The therapist uses deep pressure and short strokes to go deep into the underlying tissues to work into the knots. The therapist massages the area until the knots are released and an increase of blood flow is returned to the affected area. The massage therapist has to use a great amount of pressure and the patient may feel discomfort during the procedure. Sometimes, some soreness may be felt as well. The benefits are increased blood flow to the muscles and stretching and strengthening of the tendons. According to the 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, deep tissue massage lowers blood pressure and the heartbeat by 10.8 beats per minute.
  3. Orthopedic Massage – used to treat injuries and disorders of the muscles and skeletal system. It generally targets one particular area of the body such as a particular joint with attaching tendons and muscles. The damaged joint or area is moved to determine the range of motion. Orthopedic massage is then used to gain an increase in the range of motion of the joint. This is done by massaging the muscles to gain an increase of blood flow to the affected area, stretching the ligaments and tendons and massaging the area as the joint is moved.
  4. Lymph Massage – performed to increase the flow of lymph through the body to boost the immune system. A lymph massage usually follows a 30-minute deep tissue massage, which will increase the blood flow through the body. The lymph massage is performed for 30 minutes and involves light, relaxing strokes across the lymph nodes of the arms, neck and face. Light strokes are used because the lymph nodes are located just under the surface of the skin. Following the lymph massage, the patient should drink a lot of water to flush the toxins from the system.

Massage is known to provide relief from pain, anxiety, stress and even insomnia. It can be stimulating or soothing; it can provide a context for recovery by inducing a sense of well-being. The therapy is about trust, respect, connection and healing. It is a wonderful way to regain contact and control of your body, find relief and comfort from pain and maintain good health.

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Cheers to your health!

Russ Curran Photo



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