What Is Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy or Therapeutic Touch as it is also known, is an instinctive therapy and has been around for centuries. It is probably the oldest and simplest form of physical medicine known to humans. The major avenue of human touch is through the hands. Today, therapeutic touch is on the cutting edge of holistic health care. Many different types of massage and bodywork – hands-on-touch, remain ever so popular. Therapeutic massage is applied to heal the body and to reduce the tensions of daily life.

 How does it release tension and promote health and relaxation?

Massage is the most frequently used therapy for musculoskeletal problems and is particularly useful in controlling pain.

Whether muscle tension is caused from normal muscle activity, awkward movement or emotional stress, it causes pain and muscle fatigue by compressing nerve fibres in the muscle. When muscles remain contracted for long periods of time, they interfere with the elimination of chemical wastes in the muscles and surrounding tissues which can cause frequent nerve and muscle pain.

If left unaddressed these body tensions can build into chronic patterns of stress. Prolonged chronic stress patterns may cause health risks such as allergies, backache, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine and tension headaches, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome and ulcers.

For tension related conditions, massage helps break up muscular wastes and toxins and stimulates circulation. When metabolic wastes accumulate, they often form “trigger points” within the muscles. These are hyperirritable spots that are painful to touch. They feel like knots or rope within the muscle and encourage muscle tension. Applying deep pressure to these point’s is one way of eliminating muscle tension or spasm.

By addressing tension, stress and structural imbalances in the body, Massage / bodywork can be an important part of a health maintenance program and can reduce long term health costs.

Massage has a three-dimensional effect on the person receiving treatment. It relaxes the body, calms the mind and is conducive to a positive disposition. It creates awareness of body, mind and spirit.

 “The laws of nature are the laws of health, and he who lives according to these laws is never sick. He obeys the laws, maintains an equilibrium in all parts, thus ensures true harmony; and harmony is health, while discord is disease”. The Aquarian Gospel

Who is it for?

EVERYONE – Massage Therapy is for people of all ages, provided they do not present with contraindications. Some contraindications include:

High fever – The body is already fighting a battle against infection. A massage would just feed more toxins into the body thus retarding the body’s effort to get better.

Infectious and contagious diseases – Examples include ringworm and chicken pox. Massage would spread the condition as well as transfer it to the therapist.

Certain skin conditions – Massage is contraindicated over boils or carbuncle’s as these area’s contain toxins and disease causing bacteria. Conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema are not infectious. In fact, adding Lavender essential oil to a base oil, whilst massaging, may actually improve these conditions.

Thrombo-phlebitis and similar conditions – Phlebitis is inflammation of a vein. Typical signs of inflammation are redness, heat, swelling and pain. Thus the skin near the inflamed vein would be red, hot and swollen. The affected vein would be painful to the touch. If a blood clot (thrombus) forms in the vein and is massaged, it could become a moving blood clot (embolism), the result of which would be death.

Varicose veins – Massaging inflamed varicose veins would only increase pain and inflammation. Massaging above varicose veins is indicated.

Recent scars, fractures and operations – These are to be handled with caution. It is quite safe to massage old scar tissue. Fracture sites should be avoided for two months following injury. Massaging after recent major surgery requires a doctor’s approval.

Abdomen during pregnancy – Pregnancy massage is most beneficial. Light massage only for the abdomen and lower back. Extra care should be taken during the first trimester especially where there has been a history of previous miscarriages.

Lumps and unexplained pain – These should always be checked out by a doctor first to eliminate the possibility of serious disease.

Inflammatory conditions – For example bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) in the shoulder or knee joint (housemaid’s knee).The signs of inflammation again are redness, heat, swelling and pain around the joint accompanied by restricted or loss of movement. Inflamed organs should also never be massaged (e.g. gastro-enteritis). The treatment of bursitis that is not due to infection is usually by rest and the administration of a corticosteroid injection.

Drugs and certain medications – If a cortisone injection has been administered, heavy massage is contraindicated in that area. The reason for this is that the pressure on the muscles with cortisone in them can make the fibres fall apart. Massage should be safe after six to eight weeks of the injection being administered.

Patients who take steroids and blood thinning medications may have thinned skin and therefore bruise more easily. In these cases, only light massage is indicated.

Cancer and massage – There are still many questions surrounding cancer and massage.  Gentle massage has many benefits such as relieving aches and pains, reducing stress, tension and insomnia, as well as coping better with the administration of cancer treatments. Research has shown that massaging cancer patients reduces their anxiety levels.

However, massage is contraindicated over the site of a tumour. Also, radiotherapy sites should be avoided for two weeks following treatment. Massage to be approved by patient’s doctor.

Heart conditions – A history of heart attack, angina or stroke needs to be taken into account. Only gentle massage is indicated which will help with circulation.

Why Massage?

  • Are you in pain today and needing pain relief?
  • Are you suffering from repetitive strain injury that requires remedial massage?
  • Are you preparing for a sports event? Would you like to compete in peak form off-setting potential injuries?
  • Would you like to increase your range of motion and flexibility?
  • Are you stressed and/or finding it difficult to relax?
  • Are you pregnant and needing relief from lower back pain?
  • Are you recovering from an operation or have swollen limbs requiring Manual Lymphatic Drainage?
  • Do you suffer from tension or migraine headaches?
  • Would you like to enhance your overall health and well being?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, then you are truly well and ready for a massage treatment and should not delay for good reason:- You need to look after YOU!

Benefits of massage.

Massage is an ancient healing art that greatly benefits every system of the human body. There are a myriad of benefits associated with Massage Therapy. To name a few, it enables people to:

  • De-stress. Massage reduces stress hormones.
  • Helps relieve tension and muscle spasms.
  • Manage pain.
  • Increase flexibility and range of motion in muscles and joints.
  • Strengthen their immune systems thereby promoting health and well-being by blocking opportunistic disease.
  • Improve blood circulation and oxygen flow in and around the body’s tissues and organs increasing nutrient distribution an so enabling the body and mind to function optimally.
  • Lower blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Create balance and homeostasis within the body.
  • Experience the healing power of touch.