Because of its enormous impact on cultures all over the world, massage therapy has a rich and diverse history. The use of touch as a therapeutic tool has its origins in ancient traditions and methods. Originally, massage therapy was a revered form of alternative medicine.
Although the first society to establish appropriate massage forms and techniques is a matter of contention, some of the earliest known evidence dates back to 3,000 B.C. and comes from India. Massage treatment was a method passed down through the years to heal injuries, reduce pain, and prevent and cure illnesses. It was used by Hindus in Ayurvedic "life health" medicine.
A Trace of the Culture of Massage appears in China and Egypt, where massage was first practiced between 2700 and 2500 BCE. Chinese massage techniques evolved from a synthesis of martial arts techniques, traditional Chinese medicine, and the spiritual yoga training of Taoists and Buddhists. Egyptian tomb paintings show people being worked into dough by others. The discipline of reflexology—a massage philosophy still in vogue today—was founded by Egyptians.
Later, about 1000 BCE, Chinese monks studying Buddhism introduced massage therapy to Japan. They gave it their own unique spin, naming it "anma," which would later become known as Shiatsu. Shiatsu's main objective is to increase the patient's energy level. Thus, this extra energy boosts the body's natural defenses against disease and controls and strengthens the organs' ability to work.
Types of Massage
Types of massage focus on different parts of the body or cure diseases. Here is a quick reference of some of today's most popular massage techniques.
- Swedish massage
- Hot stone massage
- Aromatherapy massage
- Deep tissue massage
- Sports massage
- Trigger point massage
- Reflexology massage
- Shiatsu massage
- Thai massage
- Prenatal massage
- Couples massage
- Chair massage
- Lymphatic drainage massage
- Cranial sacral therapy
- Abhyanga oil massage
- Myofascial release therapy
- Scalp Massage
The type of massage and its intended aim determine the body massage technique or procedure. Every method focuses on the pressure points or trigger points that need to be triggered in order to treat the condition that the massage is intended to address.
- The patient should be placed in a cozy space, ideally one that is private; the space should be warmed and flagrantly illuminated with candles; soft music also aids with mind relaxation.
- Apply a cream, lotion, or massage oil; if you are using oil, warm it up a little.
- Use lots of towels. The client should ideally be as naked as possible to maximize skin exposure and to enable unrestricted hand mobility for the massage techniques.
- To begin, grasp one foot with both hands, rub the soles with your thumb, apply firm pressure to the arch, heel, and ball of the foot, and then gently pull each toe one at a time to release any built-up tension.
- After completing the massage on one leg, move on to the other. Some individuals employ kneading movement to work out the calf and thigh muscles as they release any knots inside the muscles. Long, soothing strokes should be applied on the back of the lower leg and calf muscles. Work your way up to the upper thigh.
- When giving a back massage, it is necessary to work from the lower back to the upper back. To do this, place the palm of each hand on both sides of the spine, apply pressure to the lower back, then work your way up to the shoulder. Once there, hold the shoulders, apply a little pressure, and begin again from the lower back.
- Close the backbone and rub up to the nape of the neck using both thumbs on both sides. Press against the muscles on either side of the spine with your fingers and thumb, then rub upward.
- You can work on the muscles that support the shoulder blades by having the clients lie down with their elbows bent. Gently work out any knots in the area by massaging the affected area frequently
- To relieve knots in the shoulder muscles, apply pressure to the nape of the neck and the shoulders with your thumb while kneading the muscles deeply.
- Grasp the client's hand with one to raise it fully off the massage table or bed, and then use the other to apply a thorough massage along the back of the forearm, extending toward the triceps, crossing the shoulder, and returning to the wrist around the upper arm.
- Knead the upper and lower arms with fingers and thumbs; use thumbs to massage the palm in circular motions; gently pull each finger to relieve any tension
- To work on the head and face, ask the client to lie down in a supine posture. Using fingers and thumbs, massage the scalp, then work your way down to the ear folds and lobes, swiping the fingertips along the contour of the cheekbones and back to the ear.
- Using your hands to raise the head, rub along the back of the head at the base of the skull
- Move your thumbs in gentle circular strokes toward the temples on either side, starting in the middle of the forehead, between the eyebrows
Research suggests that massage and myotherapy are effective in managing the following psychological symptoms: depression, stress, and anxiety. Some of the physical benefits of massage and myotherapy include:
- reduced muscle tension
- improved circulation
- stimulation of the lymphatic system
- reduction of stress hormones
- increased joint mobility and flexibility
- improved skin tone
- improved recovery of soft tissue injuries
- heightened mental alertness
- reduced anxiety and depression.
Research indicates that massage and myotherapy are effective in managing:
- subacute/chronic low back pain
- delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
- soft tissue injuries
- high blood pressure
They can also be effectively used to support people with:
- a chronic disease
- a life threatening illness such as cancer
How to prepare
Getting a massage is a wonderful and calming experience, but if you have never had one before, you may be wondering what to prepare for.
For starters, drink a lot of water or herbal tea before your massage. You should also eat light, at least an hour before your treatment. Taking a hot shower will help you relax by releasing tension in your muscles. Wear comfortable clothing to maximize your time in the massage chair. Finally, remember to communicate your needs to your massage therapist both before and during the treatment. As for what to do before your massage, remember to leave all of your worries behind and concentrate on your breathing while receiving a massage.
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