Massage therapy has been going on for thousands of years now. Hippocrates even included “the art of rubbing” as an attribute of medicine. Massages have been widely used in Europe during Renaissance era. In many writings from Egypt, Rome, and Greece, you will notice many references about massages.
Sometime in the 1850s, two physicians from the United States studied in Sweden. From there, they gathered the concept of massage and brought back the idea to the United States. The practice became really popular for many health-related reasons. However, with the continuous improvement and advances in medical technology and procedures, massages have been pushed to the background in the middle of the 19th century. But, seeing that the benefits of this manual procedure are incomparable to other medical treatments or procedures, massages made a comeback in the 70s. It has been a form of leisure, ever since.
What is massage therapy?
In this practice, your body tissues are manipulated to enhance your physical well-being and health. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues are all affected by the impact caused by the movements done by the therapist. There are many massage therapy methods called modalities available.
Reasons why people are always looking forward to a massage therapy session are plenty. The massage health benefits range from physical to emotional advantages. Massages are known to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety while relaxing the muscles and improving flexibility. Injuries are lessened since massages can help ease the pain. Overall, massages seem to create a positive effect on overall health and wellness.
Scientific evidence on massages is yet to be explored. Although, statistics by itself can really back up the positive claims most people experience after getting massage therapy. Most of the studies done on massage therapies only show the outcome. And yes, they are always positive. For example, a study done in Korea showed that by getting hand massages for only five minutes, people who are in line for surgery feel more relaxed.
Aside from that, their physiological metrics are at reasonable rates. This is compared to a controlled group who did not undergo any massage therapy. However, scientists are not really certain at how these changes start during the course of the massage. It is a wonder if massages influence good health and if so, how is it able to do so.
Many studies are being sponsored by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to seek answers to these questions and solidify massages’ role in improving physical health and wellness.
Massages rarely come with a risk. If the procedure is done by a trained professional, it seems to have no side effects of any kind. Only a few reports have been made, and they are usually dismiss-able. Side effects include temporary discomfort and pain, minor bruising, slight swelling, or an allergic reaction to massage oil. To avoid this, you must ask the massage therapist about what oil she will be using. Or better yet, you can bring your own massage oil for safety measures.
There are special cautions about massages, however. People who have bleeding disorders or taking Warfarin should avoid intense massages. Areas that are healing from clots, fractures, or surgery should not be touched. Pregnant women and cancer patients should ask for their physician’s okay before going for a session.
What are the types of Massage Therapy?
There are many types of massages, but the two main categories are:
- Rehabilitative massage or deep tissue, therapeutic, medical, or clinical massage.
These massages are done in the hospitals or by a chiropractor at their clinics. These massages focus on deep tissue manipulation. Tendons, ligaments, and fascia are targeted to speed up the healing process and regain their functionality. The benefits of medical massages include muscle relaxation, injury rehabilitation, postural correction, improved circulation and flexibility, blood pressure becomes lower, and so many more.
For people who are suffering from chronic pain, this is a suitable treatment. Not only will your pain diminish, but you may also experience improved mobility and feel agiler.
- Relaxation massage or the Swedish massage
These are usually what are offered in spas, resorts, and other wellness centers. In Swedish relaxation massages, the therapist employs gliding strokes to stimulate relaxation.
This is done more slowly with pressures ranging from light to hard. In this therapy, there is no need to aim for underlying muscle tension because deep tissue massages tend to be uncomfortable. This defeats the purpose of a relaxation massage, where your only goal is to say goodbye to the stressors of the world and drift away. Although, you can suggest to help lessen the knots in your shoulder (if you want to!) Don’t think for a minute, though, that relaxation massages have no therapeutic benefits.
Gentle massages can trigger the release of endorphins. Endorphins make you feel good, and they are also known to be the body’s natural painkillers. These chemicals can readily improve your mood and give you a better sense of well-being. Apart from that, it stimulates the parasympathetic glands making you feel more well-rested by decreasing your blood pressure and heart rate and improving your metabolism. Blood circulation is improved.
How to Become a Massage Therapist?
The massage therapy profession is expanding. As per recent statistics, the US Bureau of labor expects growth in the employment of the profession from the year 2012 to 2022.
The industry is continuing to grow, which is why this is an ideal career path. There are many health sciences university that provides you with adequate training. Skill sets can also be improved. There are so many things to learn from the basic relaxation techniques to the advanced rehabilitative techniques.
While it is easy to know about the basic relaxation techniques, the rehabilitative techniques are pretty complex and should be learned from a reputable university. It is also important to get accreditation and certifications to gain a more competitive edge in practice. Massage training programs should always be approved by a state board. Others may have an additional accreditation by an independent agency, such as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).
Massage therapists can work in many settings. They can have their own private offices or work at hospitals, nursing homes, sports and fitness facilities, and studios. They can even offer home visits or apply for a corporate tie-up. No matter where they are, they aim to provide an environment suitable for relaxation. Massage therapists often ask many questions before the therapy. They usually ask new patients about any underlying conditions, symptoms, history, and expectations.
For first time clients, massage therapists find it important to check and evaluate some things through the sense of touch. In this way, they can identify and painful or tense areas.
Who Provides Massage Therapy?
Apart from these trained professionals, health care providers like chiropractors and physical therapists also can provide massages, but they mostly offer rehabilitative massages.
The whole procedure lasts an hour or so. The patient will lie on the table, either wearing loose clothing or none at all. A blanket or a towel will cover the patient, with only the area to be massaged left exposed. Oils and lotions are often used to smoothen out the strokes and avoid friction on the skin. However, others prefer to sit on a chair when having a massage.
A massage is more than just for relaxation-it is for health purposes as well. There are now plenty of establishments that offer massage therapies, but as mentioned above, it is important that you opt for n establishment that is spearheaded by licensed professionals to ensure your health and safety.