|Ancient Art Modern Treatment
According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) more people than ever are adding
massage therapy as a routine part of their lifestyle and they're using it to help relieve stress and
pain, lower blood pressure, increase circulation and flexibility and even boost the immune system.
Massage therapy has grown so much in recent years that it's now on par with other complementary
services like chiropractic and physical therapy. The medical establishment is embracing massage
as a legit and beneficial form of treatment. The AMTA reports that one national survey found over
half (54 percent) of primary care physicians and family practitioners would encourage their patients
to pursue massage therapy as a treatment.
Even though massage is fast becoming the newest health "trend" in America, it is hardly a new
phenomenon. Many ancient cultures embraced massage as a form of medical care. Egyptian tomb
paintings show people being massaged, traditional Indian medicine, or Ayurveda, has long used
massage with aromatic oils and spices, and massage has roots in Chinese, Greek and Roman
Benefits of Massage Therapy
People use massage for many reasons. Here are just some of the health-enhancing benefits of
massage, according to the AMTA:
Low Back Pain: A study by Beth Israel-Deaconess Center for Alternative Medicine Research and
Education and the Center for Health Studies in Seattle found that massage provided long-term pain
relief for those suffering from chronic low back pain.
Emotional and Physical Benefits for Cancer Patients: Women who have undergone a lumpectomy,
mastectomy or breast reconstruction due to breast cancer have reported less pain and swelling after
surgery by using massage. They also report that, emotionally, massage helps them to feel
reconnected to their bodies.
Less Pain after Bypass Surgery: A study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that
massage therapy reduces pain and muscle spasms in patients who have undergone heart bypass
surgery. Sixty percent of those in the massage group said they'd continue to pay for massage
Boost the Immune System: Research has shown that massage can increase the immune system's
cytotoxic capacity, or the activity level of the body's natural "killer cells," while decreasing the number
of T-cells. The result is an improvement in the body's immune system function.
Different Types of Massage (below you will find the modalities I offer)
Swedish Massage: This is likely the most common type of massage, sometimes referred to as
'traditional massage.' It was developed by a Swedish doctor, Dr. Per Henrik Ling, in the 1820s, and
is known as the first modern method of massage. Techniques include long gliding strokes, kneading,
friction, tapping and shaking motions that affect the nerves, muscles and glands. It's ideal for
relaxation, increasing circulation and energizing you.
Deep Tissue Massage: This is a deep massage meant to reach deep into your muscles and
"unstick" the fibers they contain. This is done by deep muscle compression and putting friction along
the grain of the muscle. It is especially good for muscle damage from an injury such as whiplash or
back strain, and it helps release toxins and break patterns of tension.
Sports Massage: This massage is meant to help prevent athletic injury, relieve swelling, fatigue
and muscle tension, increase flexibility and help enhance athletic performance. It can be used
before, during and after an athletic event. The techniques used depend on the athlete and the
specific outcomes desired.
Yoga Massage: The best way to describe this interactive massage is it's a cross between shiatsu,
acupressure and yoga. Pressure is applied to your body's energy meridians to help stimulate energy
movement in the body while you stretch in yoga poses to relieve muscle and joint tension. This
massage is used for both relaxation and stimulation, and helps to stimulate internal organs, reduce
tension and balance the body's energy system.
Hot Stone Therapy: Typically used in health spas, this massage uses heated stones that are
positioned on the body and moved around with light pressure.
Reflexology: This is an acupressure-like technique that's based on the ancient Oriental belief that
meridian lines carry energy throughout your body. Each zone has a corresponding reflex point on
the feet that can stimulate a certain organ. It became popular in the 1930s. When a certain reflex
point is stimulated, congestion of the related organ is said to be cleared out. It's used to help restore
Infant Massage: This technique includes a mix of touch, massage and reflexology that is typically
taught to new mothers as a way to bond with their infants and encourage their health. A University of
Miami study found that infants who received 15 minutes of massage a day gained weight 47 percent
faster than those who did not, along with demonstrated other physical and neurological benefits.
Lymph Drain Massage: Massaging the lymph system, which helps remove toxins from the body, is
meant to help detoxify the system and improve health. A Danish doctor, Hans Vodder, first noticed
the connection between swollen and blocked lymph glands and an increase in infections and other
conditions in the 1930s. He and his wife developed the technique, which is supposed to improve the
flow of the lymph system. The technique involves light, rhythmic strokes of the muscle fiber.