Massage Therapy: What You Need To Know and Learn before you choice your massage!
History of Massage
Massage is safe and effective combination of techniques that almost anyone can learn. It is a holistic therapy and offers benefits for the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the person giving the massage as well as the person receiving it. It works well on young and old, male and female, and can even be applied as a self-help therapy.
The word ‘Massage’ is most likely to have emerged from the Greek word ‘Massein’, meaning ‘to knead’ or the Arabic word ‘mas’h’ meaning ‘to press softly’.
Massage is a successful tool for healing and has been practiced throughout the world for thousands of years. In adults as in babies, massage has many benefits from a preventive health perspective as well as stimulating the body’s own natural healing mechanisms to aide in the recovery from trauma, depression, back pain and physical or emotional stresses.
References to massage are found in Chinese medical texts 4,000 years old. The Chinese have long recognized the powerful benefits of touch in healing.They recorded centuries of history behind their therapeutic massage techniques. This ancient culture claim they were the first people to systemize and turn massage into a true healing art.A Chinese book from 2,700 B.C., The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, recommends ‘breathing exercises, massage of skin and flesh, and exercises of hands and feet” as the appropriate treatment for -complete paralysis, chills, and fever.” Physicians mostly of the Greek and Roman era, prescribed it both for its restorative powers and for general preservation of the body and mind.
In the 5th century B.C., Hippocrates (the father of medicine), who had learned massage from the Greeks, prescribed the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory ailments.It is recognised that rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid. Furthermore, rubbing can make the flesh and cause parts to waste, it is these latter beliefs that are so important for those concerned with figure improvement.
In 1363 Guy de Chaulic published a book about surgery, where he described different methods of bodywork in conjunction with surgery. Paracelsus found that bodywork was not only an important therapy but that it was necessary.
Doctors such as Ambroise Pare, a 16th-century physician to the French court, praised massage as a treatment for various ailments.
Massage became popular throughout Europe, due to the work of Henrik Ling (1776-1839) during the eighteenth and nineteenth century. He developed a system of massage that used many of the positions and movements of Swedish gymnasts. This system was based on the newly discovered knowledge of the circulation of blood and lymph which he Chinese had been using these methods for centuries.
In 1813 he established with royal patronage the Royal Central Institute of Gymnastics. Ling’s system is generally known as Swedish Massage. It spread quickly from Sweden. In 1895 a society of Trained Masseuses was formed in Britain to increase the standard of training (the date 1894 is sometimes quoted), and in 1899 Sir William Bennet inaugurated a massage department at St. George’s Hospital, London.
In Europe born the chiromassage in Spain (Quiromasaje in spanish, but is not a Chiropractic) and swedish massage in Sweden, this techniques are very popular in the world.
Although the practice of massage has been discredited in the past, mainly by advocates of modern medicine, it has recently been growing in practice. Now, commonly accepted throughout the medical world as an effective and true medical art, massage is successfully used in hospitals, pain clinics, rehabilitation facilities, and drug treatment clinics for people of all ages with a variety of medical conditions.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Benefits of Massage – Massage treats the whole person – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.Massage is an excellent preventive treatment essential for the maintenance of health and fitness. Prevention is always far better than cure. Nowadays, people of all ages are increasingly considering natural therapies as a way to encourage an improved sense of well-being and as a means to a long, happy and harmonious life free of illness.
People have been enjoying the benefits of massage for thousands of years. Records indicate that it was used in several ancient societies for a variety health reasons. Today, massage still provides benefits to all the systems of the body, some of which are outlined below.
Benefits to the Nervous System
The nervous system is profoundly influenced by the application of massage. The effects of massage may be soothing and sedative, providing relief from nervous irritability. Disorders such as insomnia, tension, headaches and other stress-related conditions respond to the healing power of touch as peace and harmony returns to the troubled mind. Alternatively, the effects of massage on the nerves may be stimulating, promoting an increase in the activity of the muscles, vessels and glands governed by them. It is invaluable in cases of lethargy and fatigue.
Benefits to the Muscular System
The muscular system derives enormous benefits. Muscles maintain a balance in relaxing and contracting. Some massage movements relax and stretch the muscles and soft tissues of the body, reducing muscular tension and cramp. Fibrous tissues, adhesions and old scar tissue can be broken down and cleansed of waste deposits. As muscles contract, toxic products are eliminated. Other movements produce the contraction of muscles promoting good muscle tone. Muscle fatigue and stiffness caused by overactivity, and the resulting build-up of toxic substances in the muscles, is reduced by muscular contraction and relaxation.
Benefits to the Skeletal System
The skeletal system is strengthened by using massage. Bone is indirectly affected by massage. Improvements to the circulation of blood and lymph in the muscles lead to better circulation in the underlying bones, benefiting their nutrition and growth. Stiffness of the joints, and pains resulting from conditions such as arthritis, are reduced providing comfort and ease of movement.
Benefits to the Circulatory System
The circulatory system also benefits from the action of massage. It takes the pressure off the arteries and veins, accelerating the flow of blood through the system providing relief for poor circulation and cardiac problems. The heartbeat strengthens, the rate of the heartbeat decreases and igh blood pressure is reduced.
Benefits to the Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is stimulated and the flow of lymph is accelerated throughout the system. As the massage strokes are performed, the waste and poisonous substances which have accumulated in our overstressed bodies are rapidly eliminated.
Benefits to the Respiratory System
The respiratory system responds an increased activity in the lungs is stimulated by massage. As the treatment procceds, the breath slows and deepens. If necessary, mucuc and bronchial secretions can be encouraged to leave the lungs by percussive movements on the back and over the lungs.
Benefits to the Digestive System
The digestive system benefits when massage promotes the peristaltic activity (wave like motion) in the colon enhancing the elimination of faecal matter and combating constipation. It stengthens the muscular walls of the intestines and abdomen, and stimulates the secretion of digestive juices from the liver, pancreas, stomach and intestines.
Benefits to the Skin
The skin, both the activity and the nutrition of the benefit from massage. The sweat and sebaceous glands are stimulated, improving their function and ensuring the elimination of waste products. Skin condition, texture and tone are greatly improved – the skin is healthy and glowing following a treatment.
Benefits to the Genito-urinary System
The genito-urinary system, the use of abdominal and back massage promotes the activity of kidneys, which ehnances the elimination of waste products and reduces fluid retention.
Benefits to the Reproductive System
The reproductive system can also be improved. Abdominal and back massage can help to aaleviate mestural problems such as period pains, irregular mensturation, PMS and the symptoms of menopause.
Massage Contraindications (When not to massage)
Avoid massage in the following conditions, instances and disorders:
o During the first three months of pregnancy
It is generally not considered safe to massage pregnant women, particularly in the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage is highest. However, a gentle head massage, without oils, is acceptable, and a light gentle, loving, stroke appied to the face and brow will relieve anxiety and release stress.
o High temperature/fever
The body is already fighting off toxins as indicated by the rise in temperature. A massage would release even more unwelcome toxins into the system.
o Open wounds, cuts and bruising
Apply only light touch drainage massage around the site, to assist the blood flow towards the heart and encourage healing where bruising is present. Oil may aggravate an open wound. While giving a massage, cover up any open cuts or scratches on your hands with a plaster or other dressing.
Avoid massage over an area of inflammation, (which could be due to fatty deposits causing a cyst) and massage will spread the infection. However in case of localised problems, adding a strong base of essential oil to your bath may help you to overcome, suffering with prickly heat and redness. Inflammation would include conditions such as thrombosis and phlebitis (painful clot in vein).
o Blood Clots
As massage could dislodge and move clot possibly causing a heart attack or stroke.
o Varcoise veins, or history of thrombosis
Do not massage over broken or varicose veins as the blood supply is impaired in this area. Massage will increase blood flow and flood the over-worked cappilaries and veins, possibly causing coagulation and affecting blood flow to the heart. Professionally trained therapists may effleurage gently when advised by consultant or general practitioner of patient.
o Infectious skin diseases
Bacterial infection, Lymphangitis, Fungal infection, Viral infections, Herpes, in these conditions it is always advisable to get consent of your medical practitioner before having massage. In case of severe skin problems, such as eczema or psoriasis – massage can add to dermal irritation.
Cancer can spread through the lymphatic system, and because massage increases lymphatic circulation, it may potentially spread the disease as well. Simple, caring touch is fine, but massage strokes that stimulate circulation are not. Always check with a doctor first.
o Broken bones / Fractures
Stay away from an area of mending bones. A little light massage to the surrounding areas, though, can improve circulation and be quite helpful. When a bone is weakened by a metastasis (spread of the cancer), deep pressure over it may worsen the pain or even cause a fracture.
o Acute back pain
Avoid massage, particularly if the pain shoots down the arms or legs when the back is massaged. Do not apply massage or pressure to the spinal column or other bony processes unless gently passing over the area to reach other areas of the body.
o Other chronic conditions and diseases
Consult a qualified medical practitioner if you having high blood pressure, diabetes or any heart disease prior to receiving massage therapy.
IT IS NOT ADVISABLE to expose your skin to the sun’s rays within 12 hours of dermal application of base and essential oils.