Massage is probably the oldest healing therapy in the world. It's been used throughout time by pretty much every civilisation that has ever existed. It offers not only physical healing benefits but can also soothe the mind and spirit.
Massage at its most basic involves stroking and kneading the skin and manipulating muscles to bring relieve pain and boost mobility. It also incorporates the ancient practice of acupressure, using key points on the body to treat major organs and improve our natural energy flow.
Massage works on muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, joints and pressure points, making the most holistic treatment available.
There are many different forms of massage now including relaxation, Swedish, remedial, deep tissue and sports massage. All of these techniques and more share a common base but are used to target different conditions. For example, an aromatherapy massage is soothing and relaxing and uses essential oils to improve mental and physical health.
Some forms of massage are performed using just the hands whilst others, like a traditional Thai massage, use hands, feet, elbows and knees. A Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage is quite different again, in that the forearms are also used and the therapist may massage two areas at the same time. A Lomi Lomi massage may also incorporate chanting, stretching and manual manipulation.
A very specialised form of massage is myotherapy. This includes the assessment and treatment of soft tissue injury, pain and dysfunction affecting movement and mobility. Myotherapy is generally recommended to help restore and maintain the function of the soft tissue structure - muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.
Massage can be used to treat many conditions including chronic back and neck pain, headaches and migraines, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), stress and anxiety, high blood pressure and insomnia.
Whilst not a cure, regular massage has been shown to be very effective in supporting people with serious illnesses like cancer and chronic disease.
A major American study looked at the effects of massage on 1300 people with cancer over a three-year period. Those patients in hospital received 20-minute massage treatments whilst those treated as outpatients had a 60-minute session. The study revealed that massage therapy helped practically all the patients by reducing pain, nausea, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Interestingly, the benefits lasted longer for those who had the 60-minute session.
Generally, the first benefit you feel when you have massage therapy is a feeling of deep calm and relaxation. This is because massage decreases cortisol levels and prompts the release of endorphins (neurotransmitters) to encourage feelings of wellbeing. Other stress hormones like adrenaline and norepinephrine are also decreased.
As research has shown that high levels of stress hormones can damage the immune system it's clear that massage will lead to better general health.
On a physical level massage will reduce muscle tension, boost the circulation of blood, oxygen and lymph, increase joint mobility and flexibility, improve skin tone, speed up soft tissue injury recovery and boost mental alertness
Here's a general guide to choosing a massage therapy:
Remedial: Assesses and treats the signs, symptoms and causes of biomechanical dysfunction or injury.
Therapeutic (Swedish): Very popular in Australia and used to promote relaxation and boost circulation.
Lymphatic drainage: Used to relax the nervous system and improve the body's immune system.
Aromatherapy: Uses essential oils to treat different conditions.
Baby massage: A very gentle form of massage that can improve sleep and treat colic.
Reflexology: Uses acupressure points, particularly in the feet, to treat a range of conditions and stimulate the body's natural healing process.
Shiatsu: An oriental massage technique based on acupressure that improves energy flow by working certain points on the body.
To experience the many benefits of massage therapy search Bookwell for practitioners in your area.