What is massage?
Massage is a “hands-on” treatment in which a therapist manipulates muscles and other soft tissues of the body to improve health and well-being. Varieties of massage range from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to deeper manual techniques. Massage has been practiced as a healing therapy for centuries in nearly every culture around the world. It helps relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and evoke feelings of calmness. Although massage affects the body as a whole, it particularly influences the activity of the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, and nervous systems.
What is the history of massage?
The use of massage for healing purposes dates back 4,000 years in Chinese medical literature and continues to be an important part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A contemporary form of massage, known as Swedish massage, was introduced to the United States in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, a significant number of American doctors were practicing this manual technique, and the nation’s first massage therapy clinic had opened its doors to the public.
In the early 20th century, the rise of technology and prescription drugs began to overshadow massage therapy. For the next several decades, massage remained dormant, with only a few therapists continuing to practice the “ancient” technique. During the 1970s, however, both the general public and the medical profession began to take notice of alternative medicine and mind-body therapies, including massage therapy. Today, more than 125,000 massage therapists practice in the United States. Their numbers are growing rapidly to keep up with the more than 80 million massage therapy appointments people make every year.
Are there many types of massage?
There are nearly 100 different massage and body work techniques. Each technique is uniquely designed to achieve a specific goal. The most common types practiced in the United States include:
- Aromatherapy massage: Essential oils from plants are massaged into the skin to enhance the healing and relaxing effects of massage. Essential oils are believed to have a powerful effect on mood by stimulating two structures deep in the brain known to store emotions and memory. (See also: Aromatherapy.)
- Craniosacral massage: Gentle pressure is applied to the head and spine to correct imbalances and restore the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in these areas.
- Lymphatic massage: Light, rhythmic strokes are used to improve the flow of lymph (colorless fluid that helps fight infection and disease) throughout the body. One of the most popular forms of lymphatic massage, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), focuses on draining excess lymph. MLD is commonly used after surgery (such as a mastectomy for breast cancer) to reduce swelling.
- Myofascial release: Gentle pressure and body positioning are used to relax and stretch the muscles, fascia (connective tissue), and related structures. Trained physical therapists and massage therapists use this technique.
- On-site/chair massage: On-site massage therapists use a portable chair to deliver brief, upper body massages to fully-clothed people in offices and other public places.
- Polarity therapy: A form of energy healing, polarity therapy stimulates and balances the flow of energy within the body to enhance health and well-being.
- Reflexology: Specialized thumb and finger techniques are applied to the hands and feet. Reflexologists believe that these areas contain “reflex points,” or direct connections to specific organs and structures, throughout the body.
- Rolfing: Pressure is applied to the fascia (connective tissue) to stretch it, lengthen it, and make it more flexible. The goal of this technique is to realign the body so that it conserves energy, releases tension, and functions better.
- Shiatsu: Gentle finger and hand pressure are applied to specific points on the body to relieve pain and enhance the flow of energy (known as qi) through the body’s energy pathways (called meridians). Shiatsu is widely used in TCM.
- Sports massage: Often used on professional athletes and other active individuals, sports massage can enhance performance and prevent and treat sports-related injuries.
- Swedish massage: A variety of strokes and pressure techniques are used to enhance the flow of blood to the heart, remove waste products from the tissues, stretch ligaments and tendons, and ease physical and emotional tension.
- Trigger point massage: Pressure is applied to “trigger points” (tender areas where the muscles have been damaged) to alleviate muscle spasms and pain.
- Integrative touch: A gentle form of massage therapy that uses gentle, noncirculatory techniques. It is designed to meet the needs of patients who are hospitalized or in hospice care.
- Compassionate touch: Combines one-on-one focused attention, intentional touch, and sensitive massage with communication to enhance the quality of life for elderly, ill, or dying patients.
Added by :Eddie Jackman
Acupuncturist,Physical Therapist and Sports Therapist based in Waterford
For treatments or appointments please call 087 6701166