Massage: The Healing Power of Touch

While the use of massage is growing, the reasons people are turning to massage therapy are also expanding. More and more people recognize it as an important element in their overall health and wellness.

With our modern, fast-paced lives, the tired mind and body needs relief. Most people are bogged down by stress, which creates anger, frustration and depression. In turn, that can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Massage therapy is one answer. It is a combination of science and art, providing a relaxing experience by soothing and artful hand strokes on the body to rejuvenate the mind and body and eliminate stress scientifically.

The practice of massage has its roots in the ancient Chinese, Greek, Roman, Indian and Egyptian era. Massage was used by early physicians to treat fatigue, illness and injury based on their basic understanding of how the body functions. Egyptian tomb paintings show people practicing massage, and Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, places great emphasis on massage and it remains widely practiced in India. Massage was one of the principal methods of relieving pain for Greek and Roman physicians and, Julius Caesar was apparently given a daily massage to treat neuralgia.

Today, massage is used for the same reasons — to treat illness and injury. In addition, it is used for relaxation and relief of stress. Both therapeutic or shiatsu massage can help restore a renewed sense of calm after a stressful day or week. Professionals suggest that when the cause of stress is emotional, massaging the stomach region is beneficial. That is where we hold onto feelings and thoughts that we really don’t want to deal with.
According to the 2007 American Massage Therapy Association Consumer Survey, almost a quarter of all adult Americans (24 percent) had a massage at least once in the last 12 months. In addition, many hospitals offer massage therapy to patients for stress management and comfort as well as pain management.

The therapeutic benefits of massage are many and continue to be researched and studied. Recent research has shown the effectiveness of massage for the following conditions:

  • Massage therapy for cancer-related fatigue.
  • Massage for chronic low back pain.
  • Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • Massage after surgery to help with post-operative pain.

Research has also shown massage to be effective in:

  • Boosting the body’s immune system functioning.
  • Decreasing the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Reducing anxiety and lowering blood pressure in stroke patients.
  • Reducing headache frequency.
  • Easing alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Decreasing pain and anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients.

Headaches
Headaches are becoming quite common in the workplace where computers are in constant use and individual postures are compromised with elevated shoulders and outreaching arms. Headaches & migraines, jaw tension (TMJD), and post-whiplash issues are often alleviated, if not entirely resolved with massage.

Back Pain
Back pain is extremely common and can often persist for months. The cause(s) is sometimes elusive when a specific event can not be recalled. Depending on your current condition and past history, the approach to helping resolve your specific issue can include several therapies. These might include therapeutic massage, Chinese massage and acupuncture, which are designed to help heal muscles strains, chronic pain, stagnant qi (energy), and structural imbalances.

Athletic Injuries
Soft-tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, and connective tissue) strains are quite common among athletes and can be quite painful, even debilitating at times. Certain massage therapies are successful in relieving pain and helping the injury to heal. Chronic inflammation in a joint might be treated with acupuncture.

Athletic Tune-Up
Having relaxed, long, limber muscles is critical for optimal performance, and a ‘sports’ massage is designed to maximize range of motion, and eliminate (or minimize) unnecessary restrictive tension. Massage can also help restore a sense of balance and ease of movement.
Female Health Issues and Fatigue

There are specific massage techniques for female health issues such as PMS. They include abdominal massage and acupuncture. Moreover, women often have unexplained fatigue. Lack of energy is often a symptom of dealing with too much stress, past trauma, exhaustion (physical and mental), anxiety, depression, a structural imbalance, chronic pain, poor nutrition and dehydration. Several massage techniques can help counteract this negative energy. In addition, many salons offer a pre-natal massage for the expectant mother, which greatly reduces the stresses of pregnancy.

Be Proactive About Your Health
You might consider adding organic whole foods to your diet and eliminating processed foods and soft drinks. Increase your intake of purified water to help flush out the toxins in your body, and get some exercise in the fresh air and sunshine. This will go a long way toward a healthier you.

Massage is a beneficial way to be proactive about your health in general. We are all under some stress, many times over-worked, and our diets can be unhealthy at times, if not always. We live in a society where illness and disease are taking an increasing toll on our bodies. By making a few simple changes, we can change the course of our lives!