What is massage therapy anyway? One thing we can say for sure is that it has become a fast growing profession. A couple of decades ago, you never even heard of massage therapy. But since then interest has grown tremendously. Even insurance companies understand and recognize the benefits of a skilled massage therapist.
The term massage therapy is used when talking about health and healing practices that involve touch and movement. It is a profession in which the therapist applies some manual techniques, and may apply at adjunctive therapies. These techniques when applied have the sole intention of trying to positively affect the health and well-being of the client.
So where did massage therapy come from?
The word massage is most likely to have emerged from the Greek word ‘Massein’, meaning ‘to knead’ or the Arabic word ‘mash’ meaning ‘to press softly’. Massage is really the oldest form of physical medicine known to man. It can be traced all the way back to the early Chinese medical manuscripts around 400BC. Hippocrates was known to advocate massage. And he was born in the fifth century and was also known as “the father of medicine”. It was used and written about in Roman times, with history recording Julius Caesar had received massage to help relieve neuralgia!
Massage therapy dates back thousands of years. Ancient writings of many cultures have referenced the term massage.
- ancient Greek
- ancient Rome
- Indian subcontinent
In the United States massage therapy became popular for a variety of health purposes in about that mid 1800’s. Around the 1930s and 1940s massage therapy fell out of favor. This was because of scientific and technological advances in medical treatments. Massage therapy interest was revived in the 1970s. Athletes were the one who mainly used this form of therapy back then.
There are over 80 types of massage therapy. Most of the time what happens is when people find a method or two that they like, they will usually stick with their practitioner who use this form of therapy. Then there are times when people find a particular massage therapist that makes them feel comfortable and that individual will remain a loyal customer to this particular massage therapist.
The first thing that will happen is the massage therapist will review your symptoms and neeeds. They will then ask you questions about your problem and conditions.
There are a variety of massage techniques that are used to help with the following:
- reduce tension and pain
- improve blood flow
- relax muscles and provide a sense of well-being and relaxation
Massage therapy is really a hands-on manipulation of soft tissues and joints of the body. The soft tissues include:
- associated fascia
- joint capsules
Although it largely affects those muscles just under the skin, massage therapies benefits may also reach the deeper layers of muscle and possibly even the organs themselves. Massage also stimulates blood circulation and assists the lymphatic system (which runs parallel to the circulatory system), this helps to eliminate waste thoughtout the body.
The purpose of massage therapy is to prevent, develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function or relieve pain. It is also a clinically oriented health option with undeniable result in relief from an array of discomforts that include stress, muscular overuse and many other chronic pain syndromes. If employed early enough after accidents involving trauma and injury, massage therapy can greatly reduce the development of painful muscular patterning.
What the massage therapist will do is press, stroke, rub to try and manipulate the muscles and other soft tissue with particular focus on muscles and pressure points. Pressing and kneading different areas of the body to relieve pain, relax, stimulate, and tone the body. This will often happen using various pressure and movement. The therapist use their hands, fingers, forms, elbows, and sometimes feet.
With the goal to relax the soft tissues, help to increase the delivery of blood and oxygen to the massaged areas, reduce tension, relax muscles, decrease pain and provide a sense of well-being and relaxation.
Some of the popular types of massage are:
- Deep tissue
- Trigger point
With the popularity in “massage” today, you should only get your massage from someone who uses the title “massage” (MT). This person has completed a diploma program at a recognized school and has passed an examination. When you are out looking for a qualified therapist look for someone who uses a massage therapist (MT) or registered massage therapist (RMT) as their title.
When is a time when massage therapy is not the right treatment?
If you suffer from certain circulatory ailments (such as phlebitis), infectious diseases, certain forms of cancer, cardiac problems, certain skin conditions, or any inflamed or infected tissues, be sure to consult your physician before initiating any massage program. An experienced massage therapist will also be able to tell you when massage is not indicated.