What is Massage Therapy?

massage therapyMassage therapy is applied to the body to manipulate the soft tissues and joints. Soft tissues include the skin, ligaments, tendons, and fascia as well as the muscles.

One of the oldest forms of therapy in the world, it was practiced and highly developed by the Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Indian civilizations. About 4,700 years ago, the Chinese used massage to heal a variety of ailments and conditions, from paralysis to labor pains. Ayurvedha, a traditional form of Indian medicine, combines aromatherapy oils and spices with massage therapy.

Swedish massage, introduced in the 19th century, is the most common form of massage therapy in Western culture. It is said to have borrowed many of its techniques from Rome, Greece, Egypt, and China.

Soldiers who fought in World War I were administered massage in Western hospitals for soothing nerve damage and shell shock. Many of the massage techniques that are currently popular were created to heal specific health conditions and illnesses.

Massage therapy has many positive physiological effects on the body during treatment. As the therapist’s hands move over the body, the different movements physically stretch the tendons and fascia and the ligaments and muscles. Massage therapy encourages increased circulation throughout the tissue, induces relaxation and inhibits muscle spasms, and may either stimulate or sedate the nervous system.

The manipulation of soft tissue affects many different body systems, which means that a variety of health problems can benefit from massage therapy. Overall benefits from massage therapy are extensive. Massage therapy treatment can be used to develop, rehabilitate, or augment physical function. It can also promote relief from physical dysfunction and pain. Tense, tight muscles can be relaxed.

After trauma or surgery, massage therapy improves recovery time, circulation, and immune system functioning. It creates a sense of well-being, reduces stress, and helps with the control of acute or chronic pain. Massage therapy is used for treating a wide range of ages, from babies to seniors, in intensive care, health clubs, health clinics, and hospital settings.

For an even glide and smoothness, oils are frequently applied in massage therapy. Some popular oils include almond, grape seed, apricot, avocado, jojoba, wheat germ, and hazelnut.

Uses for Massage Therapy

Used extensively in ancient civilizations as a method of healing both mind and body, massage therapy continues to be used today.

There are many massage techniques for different purposes that range from simple relaxation and stress relief to muscle repair and aiding in the treatment of diseases.

The benefits of massage therapy in lowering blood pressure, alleviating headaches, and helping reduce the incidence of migraines have been well documented.

Massage therapy is used extensively in professional sports to aid tissue recovery and heal damage from injuries. It has proven to help bodybuilders gain muscle quicker by promoting the rejuvenation of muscle cells that have been broken down by intensive training in weight lifting.

You can find many good massage training schools all over the country. These schools teach massage techniques from basic to advanced. They are suitable for the average person who wants to learn simple massage techniques to those who intend to become professional massage therapists. If you are interested in pursuing massage therapy as a profession, it’s best to enroll at a registered massage school that is accredited by a certified board. This will ensure adherence to professional ethics and a high standard of training.

The professional massage therapist has the additional costs of massage beds and maintaining a suitable environment for clients. Mobile beds, which can cost up to several hundred dollars, are designed to allow the patient to lie in a comfortable position without stress on the head and neck. It also provides the masseuse with good access to the body to allow for correct manipulation.

Another expense is the massage oil required for the massage. While you can buy many different kinds of prepared scented oils in body shops, most professional massage therapists buy a standard oil in bulk and only add essential oils when desirable. For sports massage, a standard oil will serve the purpose and is more costs effective.

Reflexology and Shiatsu – Popular Relief Massage Techniques

The history behind the reflexology and shiatsu massage is quite interesting. Reflexology is a natural healing art that is based on the principle that there are reflexes in the hands, ears and feet that correspond to every part, organ and gland of our body. Reflexology is the application of pressure on these “reflexes”.

The reflexology has been practiced for thousands of years in areas such as India, China and Egypt. It has been used as a healing therapy by North American native people for generations.

Including foot spa with hot water jets, kneading massage cushions for chairs/cars, heat sensitive neck foam support, hand held massagers/thumpers and robotic massage chairs.
With reflexology being around for a long time, the benefits have been proven over and over again. Some of them include:

  • Improved circulation
  • Promotes the natural function of related areas of the body
  • Helps restore a balanced and healthy equilibrium
  • Promotes natural health and vitality
  • Helps relieve symptoms or ease pain or discomfort

In today’s society, with the hectic pace of life that we tend to lead, the realization and awareness for the benefits of taking care of ourselves is becoming more and more prominent. We realize that the stress levels in our jobs and homes it at high levels, and eventually it effects our bodies, health and mind.

Reflexology is a great stress reducer. It works towards helping the body heal itself and normalize all the functions of it.

More and more people are turning to alternative or natural health care that focuses on the entire body wellbeing, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Reflexology offers an all natural therapy that only requires gentle manipulation to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms to normalize and heal.

Whereas Shiatsu is the combination of acupressure and massage. The literally meaning of shiatsu is fingerpressure. The natural body weight is used when pressure is applied on special points on the body. It is through this pressure that the energy flowing in the meridians is influenced. This energy is called chi.

Benefits of Shiatsu include:

  • Relaxation
  • Improves the circulation
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps maintain good health
  • Helps maintain mental happiness

These are just a few of the benefits you will find from a shiatsu massage. You may want to check out the massage chairs that you can program the shiatsu into the routine. They are amazing in benefits and comfort.

Holistic Massage Therapy

Holistic health is a state of wholeness on all levels—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

We feel in harmony and in tune with nature and the environment. There are different systems promoting holistic health, such as anthroposophical medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, homeopathy, herbalism, and more.

What do biochemical tissue salts have to do with holistic health? Why are naturopaths, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, osteopaths, chiropractors, and craniosacral massage therapists so popular? If you’ve ever had acupuncture, done qi gong, yoga, or been to a cranial osteopath, you’d know why. You feel better all over!

Not only women, but many men, are discovering and enjoying the benefits of a regular massage these days along with other holistic health therapies. Everyone knows the benefits of massage therapy, from the gentle touch of a lover to a mother’s loving touch. Touching can play an important role in easing a wide range of health problems. It’s appropriate for almost any condition.

Many holistic therapies are popular these days. Acupressure, shiatsu, aromatherapy, chiropractic, massage and nutritional therapies, flower remedies, osteopathy, reflexology, and lymphatic drainage are common treatments that many people consider normal everyday necessities. Gone are the days when these kinds of treatments were seen as strange or exotic luxuries.

In many ways, acupressure is instinctive. We automatically tend to rub or apply pressure to a painful or injured part of the body to increase the flow of energy. The ancient Chinese developed this awareness further and discovered that specific points on the body could be pressed in order to relieve pain, tension, or discomfort in certain areas.

Aromatherapy is a growing trend these days. As a therapy, it is readily accessible to the individual and easy to use. This subtle therapy uses highly concentrated essential oils from plants to improve well-being on physical, emotional, and mental levels. In chiropractic therapy, the spine and other joints are gently manipulated into healthy alignment to encourage the body to function in a balanced way.

The 38 Bach flower remedies are becoming more and more popular. Many people don’t leave home without the 5-flower formula Rescue Remedy, a non-addictive, gentle medicine for the treatment of symptoms arising from stress, trauma, or accident.

With the problem of obesity increasing in the Western world, the demand for nutritional therapy is also increasing. We’ve all heard the truism “you are what you eat.” As a fundamental strategy, we can all adopt a better diet to improve our health and vitality and ease the symptoms of illness.

Osteopathy, an extremely popular system of holistic medicine, focuses on the musculoskeletal system, which includes not only the bones and joints, but the muscles, ligaments, and connecting tissue, too. It attempts to promote the greatest potential for health by restoring and maintaining function and mobility to this system. Osteopaths view the person as a whole in which structure, function, mind, and spirit must be in balance for good health.

In reflexology, gentle pressure is applied to points on the feet and hands to stimulate those organs, glands, and parts of the body that correspond to the reflex being stimulated. Regulated pressure on these parts of the feet has a therapeutic effect throughout the body.

Shiatsu, a dynamic therapy, uses both pressure and stretching to stimulate the flow of energy along the pathways or meridians that crisscross the surface of the body. It is similar to acupuncture in that it seeks to rebalance and harmonize the flow of life-force or essential energy (chi or qi) throughout the whole system and consequently enhance the body’s capacity for self-healing.

This partial list of holistic therapies barely scratches the surface of what is available. The benefits of each type of holistic health therapy vary from one person to another, with the specific impact of a therapy being very individual. One fact remains, however: we can all benefit from having a wide range of holistic health therapies to choose from.