Healing Hands – massage therapy
Massage therapy has a long history in cultures around the world; It dates back thousands of years. References to massage appear in writings from ancient China, Japan, India, Arabic nations, Egypt, Greece (Hippocrates defined medicine as “the art of rubbing“), and Rome. Massage became widely used in Europe during the Renaissance. In the 1850s, two American physicians who had studied in Sweden introduced massage therapy in the United States, where it became popular and was promoted for a variety of health purposes. With scientific and technological advances in medical treatment during the 1930s and 1940s, massage fell out of favor but the interest in massage revived in the 1970s, especially among athletes. (original text in Medicinenet.com)
Today, people use many different types of massage therapy (Swedish massage, Tui-Na, Thai…) for a variety of health-related purposes – could be used as a preventative measure, for wellbeing, as it can be used as a treatment measure. In the Western countries, massage therapy is often considered part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), although it does have some conventional uses (if we think about sports massage, pain relief, physiotherapy…). In most Asian countries and cultures massage is taken as essential part of their routine, to eliminate any “stagnations” and keep diseases away…I’ll get into that, don`t worry.
A trained Massage Therapist and advocate that this should be recommended by medical practitioners as a complementary therapy to most physical or mental, acute and/or chronic, conditions (chronic pain, stress, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, and so on…), i tend to forget very easily to book my monthly massage; I might not be tense or in any pain but if i act before the body reacts, i will prevent that sudden visit to the doctor and promote my general wellbeing. Is that simple….Look, I am not saying it cures all, but helps getting there…hence complementary.
So, what type of massage should I choose?
First of all, you have to identify yourself with it!! Give it a try to the weirdest massages you have heard…mostly you identify them by name, most people don´t know them by style. Styles used in massage therapy range from long, smooth strokes to short, percussive strokes. Some massage therapists use oils and lotions; others do not. You will know when you find it, because your body will resonate with it; you´ll feel energised…even if the day after it´s a bit sore 🙂 I love massage therapy in general, that is why i wanted to learn more and did the training; it is so vast the intervention level of the different types…but let me give you a few examples for you to read on and understand how they work:
- Swedish Massage, widely known;
- Tui-Na Massage, the chinese deep tissue massage that makes wanders but, for personal experience, is hard on the massage therapist elbows and thumbs…you can imagine the rest.
- Shiatsu, the balanced massage as both patient and therapist are in synchronicity.
- Thai Massage, one of my favourites as it is hard for all the stretching, pulling and pressing but does wonders.
- Reflexology, means mapping your feet and treating observed “imbalances in your body”.
- Ayurvedic – Abhyangha is most commonly know, but there are other techniques such as Udwartana and Shirodhara
- and so on…there are 23 types acc. to the Wikipedia, which i highly advise to read if you want to have a more detailed definition.
Are there any risks associated?
Massage therapy appears to have few serious risks – if it is performed by a properly trained therapist and if appropriate cautions are followed. The number of serious injuries reported is very small. Side effects of massage therapy may include temporary pain or discomfort, bruising, swelling, and a sensitivity or allergy to massage oils. Cautions about massage therapy include the following:
- Massage should not be done in any area of the body with blood clots, fractures, open or healing wounds, skin infections, or where there has been a recent surgery.
- Although massage therapy appears to be generally safe for cancer patients, they should consult their oncologist before having a massage that involves deep or intense pressure. Any direct pressure over a tumor usually is discouraged. Cancer patients should discuss any concerns about massage therapy with their oncologist.
- Pregnant women should consult their health care provider before using massage therapy, but there are specific massages for pregnant women that involve different techniques.
Perfectly safe, so the benefits…
- Stimulates the release of hormones (endorphins and enkephalins) that reduce anxiety, stress, and pain.
- Lowers levels of stress hormones (norepinephrine, epinephrine, and cortisol), which reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, slow breathing, and relax muscles.
- Increases levels of oxytocin, which is a hormone that increases social bonding and behaviors like trustworthiness, generosity, and empathy.
- Reduces activation of pain receptors in the spinal cord and muscles.
- Blocks the production of inflammatory cytokines, which stops swelling and inflammation of muscle tissue;
- Increases blood flow to muscles, connective tissue, and the lymph nodes – detox process.
So, go on…book your massage now!