Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Therapeutic Massage

Therapeutic massage is the use of massage to heal mental and bodily aches and strains. Also known as manipulative therapy, therapeutic massage provides physical and psychological benefits. Physically, the effects of massage include injury healing, pain management and circulation improvement. The psychological aspects, through muscle manipulation leading to tension relief achieved by manipulating the muscles, are known to relieve stress. Multiple types of therapeutic massage exist, utilizing various techniques and concentrating on various parts or problems of the body. Therapeutic massage has a long and vivid history, and can claim Hippocrates and Julius Caesar as proponents of its uses and benefits.

Therapeutic massage, through the application of manual and/or mechanical-aid pressure to the soft tissues of the body, eases much of the accumulated tension in the muscles. This tension relief is extremely helpful in situations when time is the best medicine. For example, strained and pulled muscles will only cure after time and through patience; massage can be extremely helpful in making the former go by faster and the keeping the latter with you. Muscle aches and pains, which accumulate as a result of stress, are greatly soothed by massage. A continuous regimen of massage therapy can reduce the aches and pains in the long term as well as the short term. Bad circulation, which can be the result of many factors, can be increased through massage. Of course, a healthy lifestyle consisting of a correct diet and sufficient exercise is needed to maintain healthy circulation, but massage does stimulate the blood vessels near the skin, thus improving circulation nearest to the skin.

It is a known fact that when we feel good physically, our psychology improves as well. Massage feels good physically as it lightly stirs our muscles and puts pressure on sensitive spots. This physical calm affects the mental state as well. While tension and pain are being released from our bodies, the mind is able to rest at ease, forgetting the pressures, both physical and emotional, of everyday life. Physical and mental health are cyclically related, as we are also apt to be physically more active in life when we feel good psychologically.

The range of therapeutic massage that exists is quite varied. For the athlete, there is the sport massage – the manipulation of muscles and tissues to keep them from tenseness and soreness – which reduces the risk of injury. For the injured athlete (or any injured person, for that matter), there exists the remedial massage, which concentrates on the injured area, and probably will include physical therapy to rebuild those muscles. Reflexology, derived from an Asian form, is massaging feet and/or hands to achieve relaxation throughout the body, as points in our hands and feet are connected to points throughout our body. Swedish massage focuses on deep massage of the muscles in the direction of blood flow to the heart. This type of massage is both beneficial for muscles and the circulation system. These above-listed types are a few of the various methods of therapeutic massage. Depending on personal needs and injuries, the specific therapeutic massage best for the specific need should be chosen.

Hippocrates is known to have said: “A physician must be experienced in many things but assuredly also in rubbing." Thus, the father of modern medicine confirmed his belief in the benefits of massage to medicine. Julius Caesar is known to have had regular massage treatments, for certainly, in between conquering empires, de-stressing his body was very important. Massage therapy has been used throughout the centuries, and is known to have been used as early as the Egyptian times – paintings depict the royalty receiving massage. Modern society is discovering the benefits, both physical and psychological, of massage. As knowledge of these ancient techniques increases, awareness of their benefits grows, and the popularity increases. It is becoming easier and more accessible to get virtually any type of therapeutic massage in most cities, and is quickly spreading to regions outside of metropolitan areas. Massage, as the millennium-old therapy shows, is not a temporary fad. It is a method of pain and stress a lleviation that is becoming accepted by the medical community as an important supplement to various treatments. Therapeutic massage, through muscle manipulation, can be extremely beneficial to living a healthy life. When the body feels free and easy, the mind follows suit, and the path is paved for a healthy life.

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