Massage therapy is one of the oldest healing practices. Records of it have been found in Egypt 2,300 BC, in Hippocrates writings and in 5,000-years-old Chinese medical texts. Massage is still around because of it’s great utility.
In the late 1700s, Swedish massage was developed as a result of a system of active and passive exercises for the gymnastic community. In the United States, massage therapy was used largely by physicians from 1880 to 1910 but pretty much abandoned by 1940. Yet, in the 1970s, massage resurfaced as a form of complementary therapy. Currently, The National Institute of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, recognizes massage as a manual healing method.
Massage therapy is a practice in which pressure is applied at various points of the body. There are different types of massage, such as Swedish, deep tissue, hot stone, aromatherapy, shiatsu, Thai, pregnancy, reflexology, aquatic, and sports massage.
Therapists can use elbows, knees, and forearms, besides their hands, as well as devices in order to massage. Different parts of the body can also be massaged, from the whole body to the head, feet, and hands. And massage can even take place with recipients submersed or floating in water.
MEDICINAL BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY
Massage therapy has numerous benefits and is used diversely depending on the person’s needs:
- Massage helps decrease cortisol levels (“stress” hormone), inducing relaxation.
- It can incite perceptions of “feeling stronger” and overall well-being.
- Deep tissue massage is highly recommended for athletes and gym-goers since it breaks up scar tissue and lengthens the muscles, promoting oxygen and nutrient flow into the tissue and helping discard lactic acid and inflammation out of the body.
- Massage is used to rehabilitate skeletal muscle, reducing pain and inflammation and promoting mitochondrial regeneration.
- Infant massage can help babies relax, sleep, cry less, and even help promote growth. It can also positively affects their hormones, as well as their mothers’.
- Massage therapy also helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
Although massage is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal disorders and as a relaxation technique, it can also be used to treat many conditions, such as anxiety and other mood disorders, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and even symptoms of cancer.
There are numerous studies citing massage therapy’s efficacy:
- Patients with chronic neck pain have reported decrease in neck pain intensity, improved function and quality of life.
- Patients with fibromyalgia have reported less pain, less stiffness and fatigue, and fewer sleepless nights.
- Children with rheumatoid arthritis have experienced lower anxiety and cortisol levels, and a decrease in pain.
- Women whose partners massage them during labor tend to have shorter labors and lower rates of tears, cesarean section, and usage of instrument for delivery.
- Patients with anxiety and depression have reported improvement of symptoms since it helps enhance dopamine and serotonin levels.
- Sufferers of migraines have experienced less severity and frequency of pain, as well as fewer sleep disturbances.
- Asthmatic children have showed a decrease in behavioral anxiety and cortisol levels after massage and improvement in airway caliber and control of symptoms.
- Massage therapy has helped cancer patients decrease cortisol levels, anxiety, anger while promoting a positive mood.
If you have a medical condition, discuss your concerns with your health care provider. Get familiarized with different kinds of massage in order to choose the one that suits your needs.
If you massage or get a massage from someone you know, use a high quality oil, such as a fractionated coconut oil. I use one from Plant Therapy since it’s a high quality organic one.
Even if you are in a healthy state, a massage can revitalize you and help you relax.
So, take time for yourself and get a massage!!!
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor