Massage therapy is the oldest known form of alternative physical therapy known to man; its roots can be traced back to around 400BC and was even known to have been used to relieve neuralgia in Julius Ceaser. However it wasn’t always a popular form of alternative treatment and indeed it wasn’t until the 1800s when a Swedish Professor developed the form of massage called Swedish massage that is well known today, did it start to take off in Europe. Today massage therapy is one of the most frequently used forms of alternative therapy which is used throughout the world.
How does massage therapy work?
There are many various techniques associated with massage, although the basis behind all of them is simply the kneading of muscles, tendons and ligaments. The masseur as the therapist who performs the massage is called will use their hands to not only give the massage, but to also determine any physical and emotional problems that the person is suffering from.
They will do this by gently palpitating the patients muscles, tendons and ligaments to find the cause of any pain and also to tell the condition that the body is in, the hands are the only tool which the qualified masseur will use. The massage therapy works on virtually the whole system of the body with either a mechanical reaction or a reflex one.
If it is a mechanical one then it is performed by moving the muscles underneath the skin by applying pressure or using stretching movements, this technique loosens up any joints which are stiff and dissolves fibrous tissue. If one part of the body which is being massaged affects another then this is caused a reflex action.
Different parts of the human body are connected by nerve pathways, many alternative therapies believe that energy flows throughout the body and it is when this energy gets blocked that problems occur within the body.
The massage therapist will therefore sometimes massage a seemingly unrelated area to the where you think the problem is, for example they could massage your arms when dealing with a complaint of the stomach.
What does a massage therapy consist of?
The average massage therapy session can last from anything between 1 to 1/12 hours, sometimes even longer, especially if it is your first session with a therapist. The massage will take place on a special massage table which has an opening to allow your face to fall through if you are having your back massaged.
The patient will usually be asked to undress and towels will be used to cover parts of the body that aren’t immediately going to be massaged. The only other tools of the trade that the massage therapist will use, is talcum powder or warm oil and usually the whole body will be given a light massage as a way of helping you to relax, then the therapist will concentrate on the immediate problem which sent you to them.
Besides being an excellent tool to alleviate stress and anxiety, massage therapy is able to help alleviate many other conditions. While massage therapy isn’t a cure as such, those suffering from persistent problems such as pain in the back or joints have found that massage is an excellent way of treating it.