Why We Love Massage Therapy
Massage therapy means different things to different people; often having a variety of distinct health benefits among individuals.
The medical definition of massage therapy is the manipulation of soft body tissues including muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. Today, there are many styles of massages to cater to an individuals independent needs and desires, with more than 80 styles having been developed in the past three decades.
What is the history of massage therapy?
Massage therapy has existed in many cultures around the word for a very long time, dating back thousands of years. There are references to massage in writings from ancient India, Japan, China, the Middle East, Egypt, Rome and Greece. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician who lived in the Age of Pericles is considered one of the most outstanding figures in medicine’s history. During his time, he defined medicine as “the art of rubbing”, meaning that massage therapy was in fact the main source of medical treatment.
What are the health benefits of massage therapy?
There are a wide variety of health benefits that massage therapy can provide. These benefits can be for both physical and mental health. In terms of physical health, massage therapy is known to:
- Relieve or diminish pain (including chronic pain)
- Rehabilitate sporting or other injuries
- Loosens tight muscles and knots
- Increases flexibility and ease of motion
- Lower blood pressure and heart rate
- Improve stimulation
- Stimulates the release of chemicals in the body
- Release nerve compression
- Enhances skin tone
- Mend scar tissue
- Better posture
- Strengthen the immune system
- Stimulate the lymphatic system
- Reduce tension headaches
- Relieve constipation
- Increase energy and vitality
- Relief from arthritis
- Reduced stress
- Increased relaxation and calmness
- Reduced anxiety (a single session can reduce “state anxiety” whereas multiple sessions can reduce “trait anxiety”)
- Relief from symptoms of depression
- Improved concentration and alertness
- Improved sleep patterns
- Aiding in general wellness and enhanced mood
Based on research that has been conducted, evidence does support the notion that massage therapy is effective. There appears to be very few risks involved with using massage therapy as a medical treatment, and many benefits that make it worthwhile. All of the techniques that are used do strongly benefit the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic and nervous systems, as well as other bodily functions and mental health.
Massage therapy can be done using many different techniques. The most common methods used by therapists include pressing and rubbing the skin with their hands, fingers, and forearms, but there are also other ways that they manipulate the muscles and other tissues of the body.
Massage therapists can work in a variety of settings, including day spas, hospitals, nursing homes, sport and fitness facilities and private offices. They can also work in a patient’s home or hotel room if they are a mobile massage service. Typically in a massage therapy session, the patient will lay on a massage table either in loose fitting clothing or undressed. If the patient is undressed, they will always be covered with sheets or towels, except for the area being massaged at the time. The therapist will use generally either oil or a lotion to reduce friction on the skin throughout the massaging. Massages can last for varying amounts of time depending on what type of massage or package you choose.
What is energy transfer in massage therapy?
In massage therapy, there is a transfer of energy between the therapist and patient. This transfer of energy actually happens every single time you touch someone; however as massage therapy involves the therapist constantly having their hands on the patient’s skin for large amounts of time, there is a considerable amount of energy transferred in massage therapy sessions.
This transfer of energy often involves a transfer of emotions back and forth between both the therapist and patient. As a massage is meant to be relaxing and help the well being of the patient, it is important for the therapist to check their emotions to ensure no bad energy will be passed onto the patient. Professional therapists handle spouts of negative energy with awareness and intention.
Likewise, it is important for the therapist to be aware that their patient may be full of negativity. If the patient is peeved at someone, upset or even feeling anxious or depressed, the therapist will be able to feel that when they begin the massage. A therapist must ensure that during a massage with a patient who has negative energy that they are mindful not to take in this energy.
Best massage results will occur if both patient and therapist are in a positive space and both are open to sharing their positive energy. In these situations, the therapist can work their magic freely and the patient is able to really make the most of the session. A bond is often created between therapist and patient, and both leave feeling happy and satisfied.
What are the types of massage used in massage therapy?
There are many different types of massage. As previously stated, more than 80 new styles of massage have developed in the past thirty years alone. Some of the most popular styles of massage are relaxation massage and deep tissue massage.
Relaxation massages were created not by Swedish therapists but funnily enough by a Swedish fencing master in the 1700’s. This particular style of massage is great for relaxing muscles and boosting your circulation, as well as stretching ligaments and stimulating your skin. As the name suggests, the point of the massage is to relax the body, both physically and mentally.
Deep tissue massages originate from Russia, having been used extensively there for over 100 years. The philosophy behind the massage is that the body can learn to heal, relax and repair itself when massaged. The style is deeply relaxing and realigns your body.