Massage Is Good For You
Essentially massage is the rubbing and kneading of muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints of the body, especially to relieve tension or pain. However, it can be more than that. A good Holistic Massage Therapist will treat mind, body, and spirit, making you feel better mentally and emotionally, as well as physically. It is such a beneficial treatment to have done on a regular basis, and has many benefits:
- Stress relief
- Relieves chronic pain caused by conditions such as RSI, back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia.
- Improved mental and emotional well-being, which helps with conditions such as anxiety and depression.
- Relaxes tense tight muscles and removes knots.
- Aids in recovery from injuries such as sprains, strains, and the latter stages of recovery from broken limbs.
- Helps during latter stages of recovery from some operations, such as joint replacements where the soft tissue around the joint can be significantly impacted.
- Balances and re-aligns the body.
- Improves concentration.
- Lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
- Reduces muscle fatigue by removing lactic acid.
- Increases blood flow to and from the area being massaged, which helps cell regeneration and removal of waste products and toxins.
- Increases the flow of lymph away from the area being massaged, which helps with the removal of waste products, toxins, and excess fluid.
- Improves skin condition, and depending on the medium being used skin issues such as eczema, acne, psoriasis, scarring.
- Improves muscle tone (if done regularly).
There are many different types of massage, from Sports Massage which tends to focus on the physical to Holistic Massage which focuses on mental and emotional well-being as well as physical. Individual needs can be very different, check out our Holistic Therapy practice for an idea of the sort of treatments that may be offered.
As far as massage medium is concerned again there are several options. Most commonly used are massage oils, however creams, gels, and waxes can also be used. Pure Aromatherapy sell a fabulous range of Aromatherapy Massage Oils and Carrier Oils. The addition of essential oils to the medium you use will add extra therapeutic value as well as smelling gorgeous.
Massage as we know it today…
The massage we experience today started to emerge in the 18th century, and is often referred to as Swedish massage as much of it comes from the work of Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839). Ling completed some of his study in China, and as a result developed massage techniques he called effleurage, petrissage, and tapotement (aka percussion).
Progress was also being made in England by Dr Matthias Roth, who studied with Ling. Two brothers, Dr George H. Taylor and Dr Charles F. Taylor, introduced Swedish massage techniques to America in 1856. The former studied in Sweden and the latter with Dr Roth, and as a result they set up a practice in New York and invented the first mechanical massage device in 1864. Further developments have been recorded through the work of the Dutch physican Dr Johann Mezgner (1839-1909), who linked the effects and benefits for rehabilitation and treatment of many diseases and disorders. He went on to further develop effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibrations, and friction, which still make up the core of all massage treatments taught today.
Medical professions in all the countries involved began to encourage nurses to train as masseuses, but unfortunately it began to become synonymous with prostitution and massage parlours. Consequently a small group of women in Britain founded the 'Society of Trained Masseuse' in 1894, to try an establish massage as a reputable profession with a strict code of practice. WW1 saw the demand for medicinal massage increase, with treatments being developed for mind and body, e.g. shell shock, nerve damage etc. The Society of Trained Masseuse was awarded a Royal Charter for their contribution to the war effort, and became the Chartered Society of Massage and Medicinal Gymnastics. Also around this time Psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) used massage to calm and reassure patients. Through the work of one of his students, Austrian physician Wilhelm Reich, a theory emerged that massage could help unblock psychological tension as well as physical tension (a theory that had long been held by Eastern cultures).
Again around this time reflexology and aromatherapy were being researched by the medical world. Growing knowledge of the nervous system and its role in pain relief confirmed the effects of manual pressure and zone therapy (reflexology). The use of essential oils in the perfumery industry confirmed that they too were found to have an effect on physical and psychological aspects of the body, hence essential oils were introduced as a massage medium, developing into aromatherapy as we use it today. However, despite this Western medicine (unlike their Eastern counterparts) made many of its advances through science and technology, and the introduction of electrotherapy and drugs started to replace manual massage as a treatment for diseases and disorders. Manual massage began to be viewed as a luxury and ceased to be part of medical training, struggling to maintain credibility.
Not until the 1960s did massage begin to regain its place as a therapy that contributed to a person's health and well-being, when awarding bodies such as City and Guilds and the International Health and Beauty Council set up courses. As people travelled more they found alternatives to Western medicine in the East, which were particularly embraced during the 'flower power' era of the 1960s. However, traditional medical acceptance of the re-emergence of therapeutic massage was poor, and some older medics still believe that it has no rightful place within medicine. However, this is a rapidly changing view, with may people now embracing the concept of health being a something that can be looked at from a holistic viewpoint, looking after body, mind and spirit, and maintaining a healthy balance.
Intuitively we know that the instinctive skill of massage must be as old as humanity itself. However, the earliest evidence has been uncovered in caveman wall drawings and cave paintings, showing the giving and receiving of massage as both a sensual and caring activity.
More concretely we can track the study of massage from as early as 3000 BC to today through both written and inherited practical skills. One of the oldest books is from China, called 'Con Fou of the Tao-Tse', which contains a list of medical plants, exercises and massage techniques incorporating pressure points. This formed the basis of acupressure and acupuncture.
Knowledge spread from China to Japan through Buddhist teachings, where the Japanese monks introduced new combinations of pressure points. The Japanese went on to develop Shiatsu (acupuncture without needles). In India the Hindu book AyurVeda (Life Knowledge) was written in 1700-1800 BC, and describes massage together with exercises as a daily routine and/or treatment. Other cultures such as Native Americans, Polynesians, Filipinos, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans also used massage over the centuries, for beauty, therapy, general well-being, physical fitness, and to aid recovery from illness or injury.
Hippocrates (460-359 BC - The 'Father' of Medicine) further developed medicinal massage, including friction, rubbing, and the insight that upward massage is more beneficial through encouraging blood flow towards the heart. Evidence of Hippocrates' input is seen in the work of Galen, a Greek physician alive from AD129-210. He continued to advocate the use of therapeutic massage and worked with the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius to further the cause. The Romans were famed for their development of gyms incorporating hot/cold baths, steam rooms, massage and exercise rooms.
However, although massage continued to flourish in the East, after the decline of the Roman Empire in AD500 there was a period of nearly 1000 years in the West during which massage was abhorred.
After the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Roman Baths were adopted by the Muslim Ottoman conquerors and became Islam Baths (Hamaam), of which examples can still be found in Syria and Spain. However, the Renaissance period is seen as the real rebirth of massage, as established by the French barber-surgeon Ambrose Pare (1517-1590). He categorised massage as gentle, medium, or vigorous.
- The Easy Massage Workbook by Clare Harris
- The Complete Body Massage Course by Nicola Stewart
- Massage Fusion by Rachel Fairweather and Meghan Mari
- Massage and Aromatherapy by Catherine Stuart
- Sports and Remedial Massage Therapy by Mel Cash
- Massage for Horses by Mary Bromley
- Couples Massage Handbook by Helen Hodgson