The Medical Side Of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy has been perceived as a luxurious service reserved for the rich and famous for the last few centuries. You defintely didn’t hear about the average person regularly scheduling massages, and they certainly weren’t viewed as a medical treatment.
These were times when advances in the medical field were exciting and experimental. Doctors have pushed pharmaceutical solutions in the West and were quick to prescribe surgery. In more recent years, it seems everyone is wising up to the fact that doctors’ prescriptions are often a band-aid to a problem, and surgery of any kind can lead to severe complications. As a result, massage therapy has grown in popularity. Eastern cultures have long trusted this practice which is no surprise, for if we take a closer look, we can see that massage therapy has a history that stretches deep into the past.
The definition of massage therapy is to press, rub, and manipulate the skin muscles, tendons and ligaments. The history of massage therapy dates back to 3000 BCE in India, where it was considered a sacred system of natural healing. Used by Hindus in Ayurveda “life health” medicine, massage therapy was a practice passed down through generations to heal injuries, relieve pain, and prevent and cure illnesses. Promoters of Ayurveda believe that illness and disease occur when people are out of sync with their environment, and massage restores the body’s natural and physical balance to heal naturally.
Around the 17th century, the development of pharmaceutics and modern medical technologies began developing in the West. Unfortunately, massage therapy began its dark age and was pushed aside in the name of progress. It wasn’t until the Swedish doctor and gymnast Per Henrik Ling began using it to perform better in the gym and extended his services to his patients. He used massage therapy to further his gymnastic career without destroying his body. Another doctor noticed Ling’s success against chronic pain through massage therapy. 19th-Century Dutchman Johan George Mezger took the torch and is responsible for incorporating techniques that are still used today.
His technique was to use:
- Effleurage, which uses long, gliding strokes from the extremities inward at various levels of pressure
- Petrissage, a technique that is rhythmic and may include kneading, skin rolling, lifting, or a push-pull movement
- Tapotement, a beating/tapping administered with the side of the hand, a cupped hand or fingertips used in Swedish massage
- Friction, a technique that is physically demanding, consisting of deep, circular, or crosswise movements with the thumbs, fingertips, palms, or elbows, designed to penetrate deep tissue
Now massage therapy, along with advances in medical science, have led to techniques that promote optimal healing. As a result, doctors watch their orthopedic patients recover at a much faster rate. They also saw a massive improvement in circulation and lymphatic system regulation.
Today it is common to see physical therapy practices implement massage therapy before their patients’ strength-building exorcises
The people at the top of their field with physically demanding jobs know the importance of massage therapy. Famous athletes and musicians who perform night after night wouldn’t be able to sustain long careers without it. Most keep a masseuse on salary. While this might seem a bit extra to the average person, there is something to say about keeping a regularly scheduled massage in your life.
People who regularly keep up with massage therapy recover faster, have less anxiety, and are less prone to future injuries. So how does massage therapy work exactly?
In all massages, the therapist lubricates the skin with massage oil and performs various massage strokes that warm and work the muscle tissue, releasing tension and breaking up muscle “knots” or adhered tissues, called adhesions. This relaxes muscle tissue, which reduces painful contractions and spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression. The nerves around the muscles compress less when the muscles contract. Less nerve compression promotes relaxation, eases muscle tension, and leads to many other health benefits.
Massage promotes relaxation, but it can also actually reduce the stress hormones in your body. Joint mobility and flexibility also improve by training the muscles to expand and contract correctly. In addition, massage therapy can help with soft tissue damage. The increase in circulation leads to a decrease in swelling. The benefits of massage therapy are endless.
To us, massage therapy is a life essential and one of the reasons behind our namesake. We see the value of this ancient practice and have watched it transform our guests’ lives before our eyes.
At Life Essentials Day Spa, we have helped people from every walk of life relax and unwind. First, we actively listen to our guests and talk through their areas of concern. Then our professionals carefully select a treatment that would best benefit the guest, taking into account their prior injuries or apprehensions.
Use this centuries-old medical magic in your life! You won’t regret it!