Are you one of the many Americans who suffer from aches and pains caused by everyday living? If so, massage therapy is something you should look in to. One of the oldest health care practices known to history is massage therapy (Greene 1). Massage therapy has a numerous amount of benefits on a person’s mental and physical well-being. Massage therapy is not a long drawn out process. You may start out visiting the masseuse a couple times a week but after about a month you will only need to visit once a week or even once a month. Massage therapy is not time consuming and is very beneficial. What are you waiting for? Make an appointment today and you will soon feel the benefits everyone is talking about.
Massage therapy is the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues in order to relax the muscles or increase circulation (Greene 1). Massage therapy improves an individuals overall health by helping the flow of fluids from the circulatory and the lymphatic systems throughout the rest of the body (Hickey 1). The application of massage techniques may include pressure, rubbing, kneading, stroking, taping, vibration, rocking, or even friction (Learn: Therapies 1). Massages may also be given in a non-forceful passive or active movement.
The Purpose of massage therapy is to increase circulation throughout the body, relieve stress, helps allergies, anxiety, asthma, depression, sports injuries and many more (Greene 2). Massage therapy helps relieve tension of everyday living (Learn: Benefits 1). Many people spend days, months, or even years suffering from chronic conditions such as low back pain, arthritis, and bursitis, when it has been proven that massage therapy is very beneficial for these conditions (Learn: Benefits 1). Massage therapy also helps people feel less anxious and stressed but still feel alert and relaxed at the same time (Carroll 1).
Massage therapy has been found to have positive effects on the immune system (Barrett AIDS 1). Since AIDS is a disease in which there is depletion in the systems throughout the body, anything that can improve its functions can help (Barrett AIDS 1). Massage therapy can have a powerful effect on people with AIDS because as they are diagnosed people tend to pull away from them and not want to touch them as much, this causes them to feel unwanted and emotionally unstable. This is when massage therapy has a powerful effect on the patient’s life (Barrett AIDS 2). "To have an hour of someone’s undivided attention, to be the focus of another person’s caring touch, can be as healing to the mind and spirit as any medication for a physical ailment" (Barrett AIDS 2). Headaches are often treatable with massage therapy as well. Using a combination of kneading, and stretching the neck muscles along with relaxed breathing is the major key to getting rid of headaches (Barrett Head 2).
Massage therapy goes back as far as 2500 BC (Hickey 1). Massage therapy references have been found in Chinese medical texts that are more than 4,000 years old (Greene 1). Records indicate that Herodicus, teacher of Hippocrates, upheld exercise and massage as life extending (Cates 1). Hippocrates, the "Father of Medicine", advocated Western health care practices for massage therapy (Greene 1). Per Henrik Ling, a Swede, developed an integrated system of massage and active and passive exercises (1). Ling taught his methods through a gymnastic institute that he established (1). The first massage therapy clinics in the United States were established by two Swedish physicians after the Civil War (1). Many well-known physicians have been known to use massage therapy for the treatment of kings and queens (Cates 1). It is said that Mary, Queen of Scots, was revived from near death by her physician’s use of massage (Cates 1).
Throughout the years massage therapy has refined some minor techniques in helping you relax as much as possible. Some of the minor improvements include the new technology and essentials to help you relax. The new technology includes massage chairs, massage tables, hand held self-massagers, or even massagers for when you’re on the road. New essentials have also come a long way too these include oils, lotions, powders, and aromatherapy products. The most common oils are lavender and chamomile for skin sensitivities, rose oil for its calming effects, and eucalyptus for its respiratory properties (Hickey 1).
Many researches have been conducted on the effects of massage therapy. One in which a survey was handed out to caregivers of clients and asked to check the positive, negative and neutral changes after each target behavior (1). Twelve of the surveys were returned and a positive change occurred in the client’s behavior in nineteen out of the twenty targeted areas (1). The changes included increased range of motion, increased ease on handling or positioning for the caregiver, mood or disposition, alertness and awareness (1). Also, massage therapy has consistently shown an increase in preterm infants weight gain (Ferber 37). This once expensive way for mothers and trained professionals to enhance weight gain in preterm infants is now made inexpensive with massage therapy (37).
There are various types of massage therapy these days such as, Swedish massage therapy, sport massage therapy, and rolfing massage therapy (Greene 3). "Swedish massage is the most commonly used form of massage" (3). Swedish massage promotes relaxation, improves circulation and range of motion, and muscle tension (3). Swedish massage is a combination of gliding, kneading, and friction in the direction of blood flow, towards the heart, on the superficial layers of the muscle (3). Sports massage deals with the effects of athletic performance, training, and injury recovery (4). This massages technique is very similar to the Swedish massage (3). Rolfing is a deep massage that can result from maldistribution of muscle tone (Fox 7). Rolfing helps to focus on the effects of groups of muscles, the connective tissue between them, and the postural and skeletal misalignments that may be causing pain (7).
There is a multitudinous amount of benefits that are encountered from massage therapy. Many people experience clinical benefits after a session of massage therapy. Clinical benefits are those that "improve pulmonary function in asthma patients, increase weight and improve motor development in premature infants, and may enhance immune system functioning" (Greene 2). Psychological benefits are involved with massage therapy as well. These benefits include an increase in awareness of the mind-body, an increase in relaxed state of mental awareness, reduction in levels of anxiety, and reduce psycho-emotional distress in people suffering from chronic inflammatory bowel disease (2). There are also many physical benefits involved in massage therapy. The physical benefits experienced from massage therapy include muscle tension reduction, muscle spasm relief, increase in flexibility and range of motion, improvement of blood circulation and movement of lymph, faster healing of soft !
tissue injuries such as pulled muscles and sprained ligaments, reduces formation of excessive scar tissue, and enhancement in the health and nourishment of skin (2).
Whether you suffer from a stressful day of work or a chronic physical problem massage therapy has been proven to reduce or even eliminate stress and pain. Massage therapy has proven benefits for the improvement of our overall mental and physical well-being. The American Massage Therapy Association claims that massage therapy reduces the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, relaxes muscles, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, improves range of motion, and increases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers (Carroll 2). For something that may take only fifteen to thirty minutes out of your day and has such an enormous amount of benefits there is no reason not to give it a try. You never know it could be the relief you have been waiting for.
Barrett, Chris E. "Oh My Aching Head!" i5ive communications inc. 21 April 2002 http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/massage_therapy/19894
Carroll, Robert Todd. "Massage Therapy." The Skeptic’s Dictionary. 21 April 2002
Cates, Nancy Dodd. "In Touch With the Healing Powers of Massage." BetterNutrition Magazine. 21 April 2002
Ferber, Sari Goldstein. "Massage Therapy by Mothers." Early Human Development.
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Fox, Michael W. "The Healing Touch." Newmarket Press. 17 April 2002: 7-8
Greene, Elliot. "Massage Therapy." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 21
Hickey, Linda. "Massage Therapy and Persons..." 17 April 2002 http://www.people.virginia.edu/~pjb3s/massagetherapy.txt
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"Learn: Therapies Explained." 11 April 2002 http://www.massagetherapy.com/copy.learn.explained.htm
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