The history of massage therapy dates back at least 5,000 years to the esoteric culture of Ancient India, where they utilized it as a sacred and beneficial healing art. The ability of touch and massage to relieve pain, ease stress, and alleviate symptoms of many diseases and afflictions has been recognized by almost every culture since then, from the Chinese to the Romans. In fact, Julius Caesar is known to have had some sort of neuralgia or epilepsy, and documented historical records show that he employed massage therapists to aid in his recovery and treatment. What does this practice look like in the modern-day, and how can it work for you?
The science of massage therapy has been refined quite a bit from these early days. For those wishing to become a massage therapist, there are rigorous professional guidelines and rules that must be followed. Many modern massage techniques can be traced to a Swedish fencer and physiologist named Per Henrik Ling, who noticed that moving in a certain way when practicing his fencing relieved his painful symptoms of gout. From this discovery, he built a system of massage and physical therapy, the basics of which are still employed today.
Basics of Massage
The main goal of a massage therapist is quite simple: to make you more comfortable, relaxed, and healthy when you leave the massage room than you were when you entered it. This can be achieved through numerous ways, such as combining the right atmosphere and environment with personal communication and touch. Finding the right style of massage that works for you will depend on your personal needs and the areas and type of pain or ailments that you experience. However, there are some basic styles that work for many people, such as:
As mentioned, this is the most popular and common type of basic massage, which provides relaxation and comfort for many people around the world. This type of massage used long, gentle strokes in the direction the blood flows to the heart, combined with soothing oils to release tension held in the body and muscles. Your massage therapist will use a combination of kneading, long strokes, deep circular motions, and joint exercises to increase blood flow and nervous system stimulation.
Deep Tissue massage
Deep tissue massage is similar to Swedish massages in many ways, but takes it a step further. Usually, more pressure will be applied, and this type of massage is common for athletes or those suffering from chronic pain or other injuries. The massage therapist will begin slowly, and then use techniques that apply pressure through their fingers, palms, knuckles, elbows, or forearms to increase pressure and break through to the problematic areas. Depending on where your pain is located, these deep tissue massages can either be focused on one area or spread out over your body.
Hot Stone massage
For a hot stone massage, the therapist will heat up certain stones, usually basalt river or volcanic rocks due to their ability to maintain heat, and use them to apply pressure and relax your muscles. This type of massage is commonly found in boutique and luxury massage parlors because of its incredible ability to relax and stimulate your body in a way that will leave you feeling the benefits all day. The hot rocks create pressure points and nerve stimulation in a way that can be more intense and relaxing than traditional massages, making this a favorite of many massage enjoyers worldwide.
A shiatsu massage uses concepts derived from Japanese and Chinese traditions that are believed to reduce tension and pain, such as acupuncture. The goal of this type of massage is to use kneading and pressing techniques to manipulate the body’s flow of energy, known as “Qi” (pronounced “Chee”). Those who practice this art form believe that Qi flows along “meridians” of the body, similar to longitude and latitude lines on the Earth, and that by applying and removing pressure or acupuncture points, this energy can be shaped and manipulated in a way that will leave you feeling more healthy and relaxed.
Although there are many more types of massage, such as aromatherapy, sports massage, and reflexology, these are some of the basic types that can be utilized or combined in specific ways to benefit your overall health. The best way to reap the benefits of massage therapy and find yourself in a more positive and relaxed state of mind is to allow a massage therapy professional to work with you and evaluate your case. They are trained in many techniques, such as effleurage, or stroking motions, petrissage, kneading motions, tapotement, a light slapping motion, and using friction to perform a massage that will leave you feeling like you can walk on air.
Contact a massage therapist today and begin your journey towards overall better health and wellness by developing a massage treatment plan that will work for you, and watch as your stress melts away and your pain is reduced.