Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use: the ancient Egyptians, Hindus, and Persians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.
There are more than 200 variations of massage techniques, and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques. The application of the techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, compression, rocking, and friction. Non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body may also be used. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin.
Massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach based on the body's natural ability to heal itself. Massage has may physiological effects, such as:
It is important to note that there are some conditions where massage is not recommended. For example, massage is contraindicated in people with:
- Increasing circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
- Stimulating the lymph system, the body's natural defenses against toxic invaders.
- Relaxing and softening injured and overused muscles.
- Reducing spasms and cramping.
- Reducing recovery time from strenuous workouts and eliminating subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.
- Releasing endorphins, the body's natural painkiller. For this reason, massage is being incorporated into treatment or chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.
- Improving range of motion and decreasing discomfort for patients with low back pain.
- Relieving pain for migraine sufferers and decreasing the need for medication.
- Providing exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reducing shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.
Your massage therapist should ask you about your specific health conditions and determine if massage is a good idea for you. In some cases, the massage therapist may need your doctor's permission before providing services.
- Certain forms of cancer
- Some cardiac problems
- Some skin conditions
- Infectious diseases
Information about massage was adapted from www.ambp.com.