Massage is defined as the manipulation of both surface and deeper muscle tissues using a variety of techniques. The intention is to repair and restore muscle activity, increase flexibility, stimulate the healing process and release both physical and mental strain.
The manipulation is done my physically applying pressure to key areas on the body. This pressure could be done with a rubbing motion, a pressing of a specific area or with the use of vibration. It is almost always done with the hands in direct contact with the body.
Areas of the body targeted during massage may include the spine, neck, shoulders, lower or upper back, any of the joints and other connective tissues. In addition the lymphatic or gastrointestinal systems may be targeted for therapy as well.
Typically, clients are treated while lying on a firm table or bed, or seated in a chair. In some forms, clients may lie on a mat on the floor. Clients may be clothed or unclothed.
Evidence of massage has been found dating back as far as BC 2330 in a physician’s tomb in Egypt. The fact of the matter is, the use of pressure upon the body as a restorative and renewal measure is as old as mankind.
Throughout history each culture has developed its own style and methods of massage. The Chinese developed acupressure, which is akin to acupuncture, however the skin is not punctured. This technique targets nerves and nerve clusters which can bring about relief for a variety of aches and pains.
Japanese massage, called Amma, is done with very vigorous kneading and rubbing of the tissues and muscles. This form is also unique because it done with the recipient fully clothed.
In contrast, the Balinese technique is very gentle. The goal is to relax and calm the recipient. Masseuses use generous amounts of scented oils as well as warm stones.
Thai style is famous for being a very deep and full body massage. It is a combination of gentle and firm rubbing and stretching. This form is quite popular among athletes and throughout Asia.
Medical research has shown that there are many benefits of massage. The primary benefit is relief of pain due to muscle injuries. A combination of kneading, stretching and pressure can prove to be much more effective than painkillers.
Anxiety can also be reduced via massage. The relaxed states the mind and body enter appear to help reduce and sometimes even eliminate the effects of anxiety.
Depression has also been successfully treated when massage is used together with other psychological therapies. Again, the relaxing state that is induced triggers positive emotions in the mind
Interestingly enough, not all countries accept massage as a legitimate form of medical treatment. Therefore it may be wildly unregulated. These countries include the United States, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Legislation is being put forth to change this as more and more research reveals the positive aspects of massage.
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