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A Brief History of Massage

Massage is considered to be among the oldest of all treatments used by man. Chinese records dating back three thousand years documented its use. The ancient Hindus, Persians, and Egyptians used forms of massage for some ailments, and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, massage is an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs and has proven beneficial to many chronic conditions such as low-back pain, arthritis, and bursitis. Massage helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living.

Who Can Benefit from Massage?

Massage provides relief to people from all walks of life—the weekend or competitive athlete, the home gardener, and the overstressed executive struggling to keep pace in today’s economy. Secretaries, laborers, waitresses—anyone can feel a need for massage at some point in time. The older population, as well, will benefit from massage, as it enhances flexibility and circulation.

What are the Benefits of Frequent Massage and Bodywork?

A Powerful Ally

There’s no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen. The incredible benefits of massage are doubly powerful if taken in regular “doses.” Professionals at the Touch research Institute at the University of Miami explain the more massage you get, the greater benefits you reap.

Here’s Why

Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress.

This translates into:

  • Decreased anxiety.
  • Enhanced sleep quality.
  • Greater energy.
  • Improved concentration.
  • Increased circulation.
  • Reduced fatigue.

Furthermore, clients often report a sense of perspective and clarity after receiving a massage. The emotional balance bodywork provides can often be just as vital and valuable as the more tangible physical benefits.

Profound Effects

In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:

  • Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
  • Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
  • Burn injury patients report reduced pain, itching, and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
  • Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
  • Preterm infants have improved weight gain.

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch—which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat post surgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.

Increase the Benefits with Frequent Visits

Here’s the beauty of bodywork: its benefits are compounded when massage is utilized as a frequent therapy. The more you get, the more it does. Taking part in this form of regularly-scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you’ll be and how youthful you’ll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn’t mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where Will My Massage or Bodywork Session Take Place?

Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable, quiet room. Soft music may be played to help you relax. You will lie on a table especially designed for your comfort.

Who Will Perform The Massage Or Bodywork?

Your session will be conducted by a professional who has received proper training, often in a variety of techniques. Although no two massages are exactly alike, you may request a certain technique or modality.

Must I Be Completely Undressed?

Most massage and bodywork techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, you may decide what amount of clothing you prefer to wear for your own comfort. You will be properly draped during the session.

Will The Practitioner Be Present When I Disrobe?

The practitioner will leave the room while you undress, relax onto the table, and cover yourself with a clean sheet or towel.

Will I Be Covered During The Session?

You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable. Only the area being worked on will be exposed.

What Parts Of My Body Will Be Massaged?

You and the practitioner will discuss the desired outcome of your session. This will determine which parts of your body require massage. A typical full-body session will include work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck, and shoulders. You will not be touched on or near your genitals (male or female) or breasts (female).

Will Lubricant Be Used?

A light oil or lotion may be used to permit your muscles to be worked on without causing excessive friction to the skin. The lubricants used should hydrate the skin and be readily absorbed.

What Will the Massage Or Bodywork Feel Like?

It depends on the techniques used. In a general Swedish massage, your session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will help to calm your nervous system and ease exterior muscle tension. As your body unwinds, pressure will gradually be increased to relax and relieve specific areas of muscular tension. You should communicate with your practitioner immediately if you feel any discomfort so that another approach may be taken. Massage and bodywork are most effective when your body is not resisting.

Are There Different Kinds Of Massage And Bodywork?

There are numerous types of massage and bodywork. Various techniques utilize different strokes, including basic rubbing strokes, rocking movement, posture and movement reeducation, application of pressure to specific points, and more. Ask the practitioner about the methods they use.

How Long Will The Session Last?

The average full-body massage or bodywork session lasts approximately one hour. A half-hour appointment only allows time for a partial massage session, for instance the neck and shoulders, back, or legs and feet. Many people prefer a sixty to ninety-minute session for optimal relaxation. Always allow relaxation time prior to and after the session. Hot tubs, steam baths, and saunas can assist in the relaxation process.

What Should I Do During The Massage Or Bodywork Session?

Make yourself comfortable. The practitioner will either gently move you or tell you what is needed throughout the session (such as lifting your arm). Many people just close their eyes and completely relax. Others like to talk during their session. Feel free to ask the practitioner questions about massage and bodywork in general or about the particular technique you are receiving.

How Will I Feel After The Massage Or Bodywork Session?

Most people feel very relaxed. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity, which can last for days. Since toxins are released from your soft tissues during a massage, it is recommended you drink plenty of water afterward.

What Are The Benefits Of Massage And Bodywork?

Massage and bodywork can help release chronic muscular tension and pain, improve circulation, increase joint flexibility, reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress, promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue, improve posture, and reduce blood pressure. Massage and bodywork are also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration, reduce anxiety, and create an overall sense of well-being.

Are There Any Medical Conditions That Would Make Massage Or Bodywork Inadvisable?

Yes. That’s why it’s imperative that before you begin your session, the practitioner ask general health questions. It is very important that you inform the practitioner of any health problems or medications you are taking. If you are under a doctor’s care, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to any session. Many practitioners may require a recommendation or approval from your doctor.