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Soothing Massage Methods

Massage is rapidly growing in popularity. In the past 10 years, the need for qualified massage therapists has increased substantially. It is no longer the sole prevue of massage parlors or wealthy spas. You now can find massage as part of an integrated medical system of treatment. You can see it in ICUs for babies, children and elderly people. Massage is part of out care and in-house therapy as well as medical management for people with HIV-AIDS and cancer.

Massage now forms a small but significant part of many different types of health care facilities. Hospices, health care centers, and various types of medical and therapeutic clinics include some form of massage as part of a recognized form of treatment. In the sporting arena, massage is also a prominent fixture, making its appearance at the Olympics. Massage is also an accepted part of athletic training at all levels of sport.

Yet, what exactly is massage? There is actually no simple single definition. In fact the term has varied somewhat over time. In 1886, for example, Thomas’s Medical Dictionary of 1886 simply stated:

“Massage, from the Greek, meaning to knead.
Signifying the act of shampooing.”

A few years later, the definition became a little more involved. In A Text-book of Mechano-Therapy (1904), Doctor Axel V. Grafstrom declared,

“By massage, we understand a series of passive movements on the patient’s body, performed by the operator for the purpose of aiding nature to restore health. These passive movements are friction, kneading, percussion, stretching, pressure, vibration, and stroking.”

The definition for much of the 20th century continued in this fashion. A standard dictionary from the 1970s defines massage as…

“a manual or mechanic manipulation of parts of the body as through rubbing, kneading, slapping or the like, used to promote circulation, relax muscles, etc.”

Online, the Encarta Dictionary defines massage as…

“a treatment that involves rubbing or kneading the muscles, either for medical or therapeutic purposes or simply as an aid to relaxation.”

There are other ways to characterize it. Some separate massage according to method or type. Some see it as traditional others look at it as modern. There are Western and Oriental or Asian versions.

In fact, massage has many types. It is not a solitary definitive action or typology. Yet, you can provide some basic parameters and, therefore, set forth a basic definition. Essentially, massage is the use of touch given by one person to another. Using manual techniques based on an ancient and/or modern system of treatment, the practitioner kneads, rubs, strokes, and compresses or otherwise manipulates the flesh.

At its most common, massage induces pleasure. This is true of sensual or sexual massage. At its most powerful, massage is a tool for removal or reduction of stress as well as for pain relief, injury rehabilitation, health improvement, increased awareness and/or athletic preparedness or recovery.

Although still in some instances a “naughty” skill or art, massage has become what it was once in the antique past – a medical, emotional and psychological treatment. When you abandon the pure pleasures of the flesh in implementing massage, you are entering the realm of massage therapy. Massage therapy is a specific application of massage. Its purpose is to help the client recover from illness or injury or, as in the case of sports massage therapy, act as a preventative measure.

As a curative, therapeutic, enabling or preventative form of medical treatment, massage therapy may act alone or become part of a system of treatment. It may complement other traditional or alternative therapies. In doing so, it becomes part of a larger and often intricate approach to healing referred to as CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine).

STATE OF MASSAGE TODAY

In recent years, Massage Therapy has shaken off its image of seedy massage parlors providing sexual services to clients. It has also abandoned the image of pampered rich people at spas or in tony health clubs. Today, Massage Therapy is for everyone. Many medical insurance plans even include massage therapy under basic coverage. It is truly coming of age.

Massage addresses medical issues, treats injuries and helps people recover emotionally and physically. Sports Massage helps athletes maintain peak performance. Massage also helps sufferers escape chronic pain and new born mothers avoid post partum depression. More and more research is beginning to show the positive healing affects of massage therapy. It can alleviate various forms of medical problems and emotionally based health issues.

Massage is a wise career choice, although there are still issues concerning universal requirements for licensing and practicing. There are so many different options within the field. There is Asian Massage Therapy with its emphasis on the holistic approach to healing through massage.

There is also the totally physical philosophy of Swedish, Sports and Medical Massage. In between these two types are the eclectic versions of massage therapy including Reiki and Reflexology. These draw upon Western and/or Asian traditions to create a new entity.

Massage therapy is an alternative means to health. It is a different approach to help heal, repair and transform the body. Together with Western medical philosophy, Massage Therapy provides an excellent form of CAM – complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The following pages will guide you through the field of Massage Therapy. We will examine the purposes, benefits, training, types and terminology. We will consider the various approaches and techniques massage therapists use, everything from aromatherapy massage to Trigger Point Massage, we will leave no stone unturned. So… let’s get started, shall we?

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