Massage (Touch Therapy)
The word massage comes from various languages like from the French massage which means “friction of kneading”, from Latin “mass, dough”, from Arabic massa which means “to touch or to feel”. Massage is the working and acting on the body with pressure or moving motion, vibration which is done manually or mechanical aids. It can be applied with the hands, elbows, fingers, forearm or knees. It depends on the application and technique which is used to promote relaxation and well-being. It is quite a lot beneficial in treating sports injuries and other problems that affect the muscles of the body. Nowadays, in professional settings, massage clients are treated by laying them on a massage table, mat or sitting on the massage chair. Massage has a long history in cultures all around the world. There are different types of massage therapy for a variety of health related purposes. Massage helps to lower anxiety level, pain and fatigue.
History of massage therapy
Massage therapy has a history of thousands of years. In the very beginning, massage appeared in the writings from ancient Japan, China, Arabic Nations, Egypt, India, Rome and Greece. Massage was widely used during the Renaissance in Europe. In the year 1850, two American physicians introduced massage therapy in the United States. They had studied it in Sweden and it became viral in the US after they introduced it. It was promoted for a variety of health purposes. In 1930s and 1940s, massage fell out of favor in the United States after the scientific and technological advances took place. In 1970s, massage invigorated among the athletes.
Types and methods of massage
Acupressure : Acu is derived from the Latin word “acus” which means needle. Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique which is similar to acupuncture. Basically, it is based in the perception of life energy which flows through meridians in the body. In this treatment, physical pressure is applied to acupuncture points with the aim of removing blockages in the meridians. Pressure is applied by hand, elbow or with various devices. As per some medical studies, it has been revealed that the acupressure is very effective at helping to manage the nausea and vomiting, tension headaches, lower back pain and stomach ache .
Aquatic bodywork or Aquatic therapy : This therapy comprises a diverse set of bodyworks and massage forms which is performed in the water. This also includes land-based forms performed in water, such as aquatic craniosacral therapy, aquatic myofascial release therapy, etc. and also forms specific to warm water pools such as aquatic integration, dolphin dance , healing dance , etc.
Ashiatsu : In the ashiatsu therapy , the practitioner uses their feet for delivering massage. The name of this massage is derived from the Japanese “ashi” which means foot and “atsu” which means pressure. It is the method of giving pressure on the body by the feet. Heels, sesamoid, arch or whole plantar surface of the foot is technically used in this massage. It offers large compression and shear forces with less pressure than an elbow. Keralite, chavutti thirumal and barefoot lomi lomi are the other techniques that are used by the feet to provide treatment.
Ayurvedic massage : Ayurvedic massage, which is also known as Abhyangam in Sanskrit is the most common and important Ayurvedic therapy. According to the Ayurvedic Classics, Abhayngam is an important daily regimen that is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ayurvedic massage is known to stimulate the lymphatic system to expel the toxins out from the body. This massage also stimulates the production of lymphocytes, which plays a very important role in maintaining the immunity power in the human body. Getting an Ayurvedic massage in the regular basis will help to gain better immunity and de-toxification of the body. Reduction of fatigue, bestowing longevity, pain relief and prevention of ageing are the other benefits of regular Ayurvedic massage.
Swedish massage : This massage is most widely recognized and used massaging technique. This massage technique differs from light to vigorous. Five styles of strokes are used in the Swedish massage. Sliding or gliding (effleurage), kneading (petrissage), rhythmic tapping (tapotement), cross fiber (friction) and vibrating or shaking are the five basic strokes that are used in this massage. This massage is very helpful in reducing pain, joint stiffness and improve function in patients who are suffering from osteoarthritis.
Thai massage : This is a traditional Thai massage which is generally based on a combination of Indian and Chinese traditions of medicine. The meaning of the this massage is “ancient / traditional massage”. In Thailand it is known as Nuat phaen boran. This massage combines both physical and energetic aspects. This is a deep, full-body massage which gets on from the feet up focusing on the energy lines throughout the body with the motive of clearing all the blockages in these lines and stimulating the flow of blood and lymph throughout the body. It is a popular therapy, which helps in reducing the musculoskeletal pain and fatigue.
Traditional Chinese massage : The massage of Chinese medicine is known as “An Mo” or “Qigong” massage which means pressing and rubbing. It is the foundation of Japan’s Anma. In this massage technique friction and vibration are used very much. Its categories include Pu Tong An Mo which is a general massage, Tui Na An Mo which is pushing and grasping massage, Dian Xue An Mo is a cavity pressing massage and Qi An Mo is an energy massage. Tui na massage is focused on pushing, stretching and kneading the muscles, whereas Zhi Ya is focused on pinching and pressing at acupressure points.
Sports massage : Sports massage is developed to help with muscle systems used in a particular sport. This massage uses a variety of techniques to help the athletes in training. It helps to promote flexibility and prevent injuries.
Deep tissue massage : This massage is best for healing certain pain and stiffness in the body. During the massage, the therapist uses slow and deliberate strokes that focuses pressure on the layers of muscles, tendon and other tissues deep under the skin. This massage is less rhythmic than other massages. It can be quite therapeutic which helps in relieving chronic tension and with muscle injuries like back sprain.
Chair massage : Chair massages are given while seating fully clothed in a portable and specially designed chair. Neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands are the main parts which are massaged in this therapy.
Shiatsu : Shi means the finger and atsu means pressure, so Shiatsu massage is the type of massage which consists of the fingers and palm pressure, stretches and other massage techniques. Rhythmic pressure on acupressure points helps to flow the body’s vital energy which is called chi.
Benefits of massage
Massage has many types of benefits not only relaxation. Some of the benefits that are gained from the massage are:
Back Pain: Massage therapy is very effective for back pain. As per the study in 2003, it is shown that massage worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain. It reduced the need of painkillers by 36%.
Headache: Massage helps to reduce the number of migraines that a person has and it also helps in improving the quality of sleep.
Osteoarthritis: Swedish massage is quite a lot effective for knee osteoarthritis. In a research done with the participants, those participants who received a one-hour massage once or twice a week showed improvements in pain, stiffness and function.
Anxiety: In more than 12 studies, it has been revealed that massage is very helpful in relieving anxiety disorder and depression. It helped in lowering the cortisol by up to 50% in the research.