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.
Massaging your body has numerous advantages and can be used diversely depending on the person’s needs:
- Massages help decrease cortisol levels (“stress” hormone), inducing relaxation.
- They can incite a feeling of renewal and overall well-being.
- Deep tissue massage (DTM) is highly recommended for athletes and gym-goers since it breaks up scar tissue and lengthens the muscles.
- DTM promotes oxygen and nutrient flow into the tissue and helps discard lactic acid.
- Massages help prevent muscle soreness and increases muscular recovery.
- They help rehabilitate skeletal muscle, reducing pain and inflammation and promoting mitochondrial regeneration.
- Massage therapy also helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
- Massages that work on the lymphatic system have detoxing effects as they support your body’s internal filtration system and help keep your immunity in check.
MEDICINAL BENEFITS OF MASSAGE THERAPY
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.
- 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’.
If you have a medical condition, discuss your concerns with your health care provider and 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, remember to use a high quality oil.
Now that you know all the benefits of a massage, it’s time to take some time for yourself and get one. Even if you are in a healthy state, a massage can revitalize you, help you relax, detox your body, and keep you healthy.
To a Fitter Healthier You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor