One of the oldest forms of healing therapy for the body uses touch. From this sense, numerous specific methods of treatment have been developed and practiced in most cultures. Thousands of years ago, many symptoms were alleviated by the laying on of hands as well as with massage. The first written evidence citing the use of therapeutic massage comes from China, in documents said to be more than four millennia old. Sanskrit writings from 1800 B.B., cite massage as a treatment for insomnia, tension and fatigue. In both ancient and modern use, massage is considered to be a holistic therapy. Though practiced upon the body, it addresses the whole person, and it affects body, mind and spirit. Massage techniques are designed to activate the body's own powers of self healing to revitalize and rebalance body functions. As muscles are loosened up and mind and body relax, the brain releases endorphins, hormones that act as natural pain killers to reduce pain sensations.
Massage oil allows the hands to glide across skin smoothly. The use of the oil intensifies skin contact as well. Soy, sweet almond and avocado oils are the most commonly used base oils, essential oils added to the base oil will heighten a massage's effects. For example, chamomile essential oil is calming, rosemary oil invigorates and eucalyptus oil increases blood flow.
As a rule, massage is performed by specially trained personnel, usually in a series of treatments. Through warming of the body, with warm up exercises, for instance, is recommended before a massage. The therapist feels for tensions and disturbances in the body and applies appropriate techniques, geared to the individual. Depending on your symptoms, the therapist may massage your entire body or only specific areas. Health insurance may cover massage that is prescribed by a doctor.
Massage has both a calming and an energizing effect on the nervous system, encouraging the release of endorphins. It increases local and overall blood and lymph circulation, so nutrients are better distributed and waste products are more quickly removed. Massage also relieves muscle pain, loosens joints and stretches ligaments. It can also be an effective supplement to therapy for constipation.
The view point of mainstream medicine
Physicians recognize massage as an effective natural healing procedure with minimal side effects, as long as the massage is performed by a trained and licensed professional.
Extra Tip : A gentle head massage is effective for easing headaches and insomnia and relaxing after taxing work : Slightly spread your fingers and knead you scalp with a circular motion. First massage from the top of the head to the nape of the neck, then from the top of the head to the ears.
Proven effective for relieving muscle tension, back and joint pain or stiffness, chronic pain, metabolic disorders, nervousness, tension, anxiety, sleep disturbances and digestive disorders.
Simple massage Techniques
Massage therapists have a number of techniques at their disposal that can be varied according to individual needs. These methods are commonly used, often with sweet almond or avocado oil:
- Stroking: Often used at the beginning and the conclusion of a massage; it has a calming effect on the body.
- Kneading: This type of massage stimulates circulation, reduces tension and relieves muscle inflammation
- Rolling: Loosens muscle tension
- Drumming: stimulates circulation and removal of waste from the tissue; loosens hardened muscle tissue.
- Circling: stimulates the nerves
- Rubbing: this promotes dispersal of fluid through skin tissue; it also loosens muscular tension.
- Tapping: Increases circulation; firm muscle and tissue tone.
- Clapping: Refreshes body and mind; very effective when combined with oils.
- Gentle shaking: Loosens blockages in the neural pathways.
- Vibrating: Promotes fluid dispersal through skin tissue, reduces tension and balances the nervous system.
Take Care! : Massage therapy is not recommended when there is acute pain, especially in the throat region and the back of the neck. Use with caution if you have ulcers, skin or vascular disease, an acute illness or if you've had a heart attack. Always go to a licensed practitioner for treatment.