Massage is a natural healing art that has been around for thousands of years. Massage therapy is based on our tendency to rub areas that hurt. We do a head massage when we have a headache. We rub our belly when our stomach aches, parents rub their children when they scuff themselves and mothers rub and rock their infants when they cry. Massage therapy is a field that takes that very basic principle and evolves it into a science. The word ‘massage’ comes to us from the Arabic root “mass’h” which means to touch, knead or squeeze. The earliest records on the history of massage therapy indicate that it was first considered a divinely-created system of natural healing.
There are various forms of massage therapy. In Swedish massage, the therapist uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping. Sports massage is similar to Swedish massage, adapted specifically to the needs of athletes. Among the many other examples are deep tissue massages and trigger point massage, which focuses on myofascial trigger points also known as muscle “knots”. These are painful when pressed and can cause symptoms elsewhere in the body. In the 1800s, the Swedish doctor Per Henrik Ling combined massage with his knowledge of physiology and medical gymnastics to create the Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. Today, he is credited with developing the basis of the technique now known as Swedish massage.
In China, texts documenting the medical benefits of massage therapy date back to approximately 2700 BC. The Chinese tradition of massage therapy was created from the combined ability and approach of doctors in traditional Chinese medicine, practitioners of martial arts, Buddhists and Taoists who considered touch as essential to their spiritual yoga training and laymen who offered massages for relaxation. Besides these massages for remedy, there are also ones for keeping fit. Kneading the acupressure points around the eyes has been speculated to give you improved eyesight. Massaging exactly on the three acupressure points of the head can quickly relax you. Massaging feet acknowledged as reflexology in the west can match the effects all parts of the human body, as the feet have a close relationship with the whole body known as the ‘second heart’. Chinese massage approach originated from the principle that diseases and illnesses arise due to a deficiency or imbalance in the energy in specific pathways or extremity that represent physiological systems. Through massage and other specific bodywork capabilities, energy will flow more harmoniously through these pathways, allowing the body to heal itself naturally.
Therapists manipulate soft tissue in order to restore energy and balance and put the body to rest while allowing the mind to be stress free. Experts believe that most illness and disease is related to stress, and nothing ages us faster internally or externally than high stress levels. Massage is an effective way to reduce stress levels and maintain a healthy body and mind. So the next time you’re stressed, massage it away.