Many people view having a massage as solely a pampering time or a treat when in actual fact it should be used as part of your tool kit for regular health maintenance.
The origins of Massage
The first written records of massage therapy are found in China, India and Egypt. At this time, massage was performed almost exclusively by the ancient equivalent of modern doctors.
The first known Chinese text on massage therapy dates back to 2700 BC. It is called “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine.” Thousands of years later, this book is still used. It was published in English in 1949, and has become a staple in massage therapy training, and is also often used as a textbook for teaching many other forms of alternative medicine such as acupuncture, acupressure, and herbology.
Egyptian tomb paintings from 2500 BC show that massage therapy was also a part of their medical tradition. Egyptians get the credit for pioneering reflexology. Their studies and traditions greatly influenced other cultures such as the Greeks and Romans.
The first known written massage therapy traditions come from India, but the practice may have actually originated around 3000 BC or earlier. Hindus used a practice called Ayurveda, The word Ayurveda comes from Sanskrit. It translates to “life health” or “life science.” Ayurvedic medicine combines meditation, relaxation, and aromatherapy, and is still widely practiced today.
More recently, Per Henril Ling developed a method of movement known as the “Swedish Movement System” in the early 1800s. The Swedish doctor, gymnast, and educator based his system on these ancient forms of touch and massage. His development is regarded as the foundation for Swedish massage most commonly used in the West today.
Today, if you need or want a massage, you can choose from a wide range of massage therapy styles, that all have roots in these ancient methods, with a wide variety of pressures, movements, and techniques. These all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with hands and fingers. Sometimes, even forearms, elbows, or feet are used.
Taking care of your body and tuning in to its needs are vital to prevent illness and degeneration, this often happens in a more positive way as a result of massage.
Which Massage Styles Are Best?
Styles used in massage therapy range from long, smooth strokes to short, percussive strokes. Some massage therapists use oils and lotions; others do not. Most massage therapists have clients unclothe for a massage, but some do not. A massage can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours.
Before you can decide which massage style is best for you, you need to ask yourself a question. Do you simply want a massage for relaxation and stress control? Or do you need symptom relief or help with a certain health condition? Before booking a massage, let the therapist know what you’re looking for and ask which style the therapist uses. Many use more than one style. Or the therapist may customize your massage, depending on your age, condition, or any special needs or goals you have.
Massage has so many benefits that I could be here all day listing them out but for now I will focus on the Top Ten!
- Relieves Stress – Stress relief is key to achieving a healthier lifestyle. Even a single massage session can significantly lower heart rate, cortisol (the hormone released by the body in response to stress) and insulin levels all of which help reduce daily stress.
- Encourages Relaxation – Relax. Reset. Repeat. Massage has been shown to help the body enter a relaxing rest-and-recovery mode – an effect that lingers long after the massage is over.
- Improves Posture – Unlike other bad habits, poor posture can be corrected without being painful. Massage helps reinforce healthy and natural movements, which can get your posture back on track.
- Improves Circulation – The pressure created by massage therapy moves blood through congested areas. This causes new blood to flow in, resulting in improved body function.
- Lowers Blood Pressure – High blood pressure has more misconceptions than nearly any other medical condition. But one effective way to stave off high blood pressure naturally is massage therapy.
- Relaxes Muscles – Got neck, back or muscle pain? Odds are, sitting all day at the office is the culprit. Massage gets to the root of persistent pain by relaxing tense muscles.
- Improves Flexibility and Range of Motion – As we age, joints tend to tighten, making range of motion more restricted. Massage helps keep joints more fluid, making you more flexible and less prone to injury.
- Promotes Deeper and Easier Breathing – One of the tell-tale signs of anxiety and stress is constricted breathing. Massage can play an important role in relieving respiratory issues and training the body how to relax.
- Relieves Headaches – Millions of people suffer from chronic headaches and migraines. Massage helps ease the pressure and pain, which can also reduce the chance and frequency of headaches.
- Strengthens the Immune System – Studies indicate that regular massage can naturally increase the immune system’s capacity-increasing the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”.
So I’m sure you can all find at least one good reason in there to have a massage and not feel you have to justify it! Book a treatment today with one of the many practitioners in your area and start yourself on the road to better health!