Massage is the process of skillfully manipulating the hands upon the body for the purpose of improving health and well-being. It is used to relieve stress, strains, sprains, pains, cramps, swellings, and many other imbalances of the body. Massage also includes energy work, with hands on or off the body, which may be used to achieve a sense of well-being.
- Need for safe touch
- Stress relief
- Prevention of sports injuries
- Muscle pain
- Rheumatic conditions
- Nerve pain, numbness, and tingling
- Joint pain
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Frozen shoulder
- Tension headaches
- Sprains, strains, and other injuries
- As a gift for a friend or loved one
- Being born (every body needs massage)
Massage is also highly recommended for the following groups
- Every infant (stimulates growth hormone, brain development, balance, coordination, communication)
- Drug effected infants
- Infants with failure to thrive syndrome
- Anyone with overused, sore muscles (office professionals, computer professionals, construction workers, athletes, dancers, musicians, mothers and fathers, students, etc.)
- Post-surgery (speeds up healing time)
- Parkinson’s patients (increase range-of-motion)
- Cancer patients
- Stroke patients
- Every senior (stimulates circulation, coordination, decreases pain, increases range-of-motion)
- Bed-ridden patients (increase circulation, decrease edema and ulcerations)
Whether performed by a naturopathic physician or massage therapist, massage is a valuable enhancement to health and well-being.
Benefits of Massage
- Gives a sense of well-being
- Decreases stress
- Decreases aches and pains
- Prevention of sports or movement injuries
- Speeds up healing time after injury or surgery
- Relieves tension headaches
- Increases relaxation
- Increases circulation
- Increases cellular detoxification
- Increases range-of-motion
- Decreases pressure ulcers and edema in bedridden patients
Brief History of Massage
Massage is possibly the oldest form of healing humans have practiced on each other. Cave paintings suggest that cave dwellers practiced massage for comfort and healing. As time went on, hunters and gatherers added herbal teas and creams to help alleviate aches and pains. Massage techniques where learned and passed from one culture to the next along trade routes and quickly spread around the world.
Written references to massage go back to ancient times. In China, The Yellow Emperor’s Internal Canon, dating back to 2000 BC mentions massage. The ancient Greeks and Romans used it in both healing and athletic conditioning. The Greek physician, Aesculapius, was known in Greek mythology as the god of healing because of his use of massage in healing. The Romans often used massage as a substitute for more strenuous exercise and to remove the ill effects of excessive drinking and eating.
In Thailand joint movement and exercise (Nuad-Bo-Ran) was and is still associated with Buddhist temples. In India, rubbing was used in connection with religious ceremonies. In Persian and Egyptian cultures aromatic baths and oils were used along with massage. The natives of the Polynesian islands used massage under a variety of names (lomi-lomi, romi-romi, toogi-toogi). All of these have been practiced since ancient times.
Hippocrates (460-377 BC) wrote of massage:
The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly also in anatripsis, the art of rubbing up; for things that have the same name have not always the same effects. For rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid. Rubbing can bind and loosen … Hard rubbing binds; soft rubbing loosens; much rubbing causes parts to waste; moderate rubbing makes them grow.
Dr. Aulus Celsus (25 BC – 50 AD) wrote an encyclopedia of medicine and talked about massage as preventive treatment for headaches, fever, and paralysis. The historian Pliny (61-113 AD) was rubbed for relief of asthma. Two physicians to the gladiators, Galenus (Galen) and Diocles of Athens (130-200 AD) wrote on the use of massage, exercise, and therapeutic baths as preventive treatments. The Persian philosopher Rhazes (Razi) (860-932 AD) wrote several books on diet, exercise, and massage. In his book, Canon of Medicine, the Persian physician Avicenna (980-1037) recommended massage for babies and elderly.
Today, the term massage includes a wide variety of techniques. It has grown into its own profession within the healthcare community. Massage is used in hospitals, doctor’s offices, chiropractic offices, and private practices.
Every body needs massage. The cells in our bodies cry to be touched. Thousands of studies have shown that touch is important to our survival.