Massage Therapy

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is the manipulation of the body and its soft tissues in order to reduce stress and fatigue, cause relaxation and improve bodily functions. Massage also improves blood and lymphatic circulation and can often help with injuries and chronic pain. Massage therapy encompasses a variety of styles and techniques.

Origins in History

Massage therapy is referenced in ancient writings from thousands of years ago in many Eastern countries. In Greece, Hippocrates defined medicine as “the art of rubbing.” Massage made its way to Europe during the Renaissance and to the United States in the 1850s when two physicians who had studied in Sweden brought the practice state-side.

Varieties/Types

There are too many types and techniques of massage therapy to list here, and new varieties are being developed all the time. Here are a few of the most common massage therapy types practiced today:

Deep tissue

Deep tissue massage focuses on deep layers of tissue and muscle using slower strokes and friction. This type of massage is best for chronically tight or painful muscles and recovery from injury, especially sports-related injury.

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is the most common type of massage practiced in the United States. Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading, and circular movements.

Trigger point massage

Trigger point massage focuses specifically on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form after injuries. This type of massage is good for any kind of athletic injury or overuse of muscle.

Shiatsu

Shiatsu is Japanese bodywork that uses finger pressure in a sequence to cause relaxation and refreshment, and stimulate the energy flow in acupuncture meridians.

Thai Massage

Thai massage originated in Thailand and is a style of bodywork that uses pressure and stretching in a certain sequence to to cause relaxation and refreshment, and stimulate the energy flow in acupuncture meridians.

Hot Stone

Hot stone massage uses heated stones on points of the body to loosen tight muscles with gentle applied pressure. Hot stone massage is best for chronic muscle tension and people who prefer a lighter-style massage.

Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy massage adds essential oils to the massage. Scents can be relaxing or energizing. This type of massage is best for people with stress-related conditions.

What is care like?

Health Benefits
Health benefits of massage therapy are numerous and have been proven in clinical studies. A few of the common conditions that massage therapy can help with are:

  • anxiety
  • digestive disorders
  • fibromyalgia
  • headaches
  • stress related insomnia
  • myofascial pain
  • paresthesias or nerve pain
  • strains
  • sports injuries
  • joint pain

Actions & Experiences During a Session

Your massage therapist will start by going over your health history and any special needs or concerns you may need addressed with massage. He or she will explain massage techniques they will be using. In most massage sessions you will be fully undressed and lying on a table. Some massage treatments only require sitting in a chair, fully clothed. You should only dress down to your level of comfort. Your massage therapist will begin by performing a general evaluation and assess what kind of pressure is necessary and which areas of your body need the most work. Massages should always be relaxing. If you feel any pain, you should let your massage therapist know. Massages typically last from 15 to 90 minutes.

Duration of Care

A typical massage appointment lasts about 60 minutes. Your massage therapist may create a treatment plan with a recommended duration of care which may be more suitable to your specific condition. But one of the best things about massage is that you can get them as often as you would like! Massage therapy works most effectively when performed on a regular basis, reminding the body how relaxed and healthy it is supposed to feel.

Resources & References

NCCAM - Massage Therapy

Mayo Clinic: Massage

MassageTherapy.com: Glossary of Massage & Bodywork

What next?

Search Find Wellness to find a licensed massaged therapist in your area. Make sure your massage therapist is licensed to practice in which you live. Don’t be afraid to inquire about their level of experience and education. Some common massage licenses and certifications a person can hold may include LMT (Licensed Massaged Therapist), LMP (Licensed Massage Practitioner), or CMT (Certified Massaged Therapist).