Massage therapy has become quite popular in recent years as an alternative form of healing. However, it is far from anything new. As you probably already know, massage therapy pre-dates all types of modern treatment and medicine. Historical records indicate massage therapy was first used more than 5,000 years ago in places like China, Egypt, and India, finally reaching the western culture during the early 1800s.
The different modalities of massage therapy vary widely. Some forms of massage include Swedish massage, Amma, reflexology, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, and more. Transcending from India is Gentle Touch Therapy, born from the Ayurvedic techniques and practiced for thousands of years. Gentle Touch Therapy provides a soft pressure massage to the head, hands, and feet, all without using deep tissue manipulation, nor pressure point stimulation. While it’s important to note that various treatments can be quite different, each one has its distinct benefits.
Why Massage Therapy?
Perhaps the main reason people choose massage therapy as a form of treatment, is because it works! Massage therapy has remained a strong, popular practice proven throughout centuries. In some cultures, it is believed that massage can be more effective in the treatment of pain than pain-killers and other conventual medications.
Of course, there are many different types of massage therapy, each with diverse backgrounds, techniques, and origins. Through time, many of these ancient techniques have merged. Individual professionals have chosen to study different modalities, while amalgamating their personalized approach to pain relief and relaxation.
Today, however, massage is often considered a luxury, which is highly unfortunate. Massage can, and should be enjoyed by everyone as a form of self-care with the same intensity we take to exercise, eat healthy meals, visit the salon for manicures, pedicures, hair beauty, and such. By incorporating massage into your routine, you not only pay homage to your body, but you are also encouraging a strong healthy force from within.
Massage therapy has stood the test of time and can help anyone who wants to achieve optimal health and improve their overall well-being. It is not restricted to certain age groups, nor demographics, and has healing techniques to work for active teens, to young adults, through to the elderly.
Whether you work a desk job that has you slouching or sitting all day, causing pain to various parts of the body, or even if you’re out on the field competing in a sport, massage therapy can prove effective. Like medication, massage therapy is capable of relieving pain, but how the treatment works is very different.
Pain-killers relieve pain in two ways: first by blocking the sensation of pain to the brain, and second, by altering the sensation so that the pain is reduced, but not gone. Massage therapy targets pain, specifically by getting to the root of the problem. When pain resonates from specific muscles or tendons, a therapist will treat that particular area and surrounding areas with precise strokes that help wake-up the injured muscle. Treatments encourage the muscles, or tendons not to remain dormant, thereby strengthening the body to heal naturally.
Additionally, massage therapy comes with many other benefits, one of which is improved circulation. When you combine all the amazing benefits massage therapy has to offer, it’s not difficult to see why this powerful ancient practice has been around for thousands of years. Once you receive a massage therapy session from an experienced and devoted professional, you’re sure to understand why it is paramount to optimal health and an overall sense of well-being.
The History of Massage Therapy
The history of massage dates back thousands of years when ancient practitioners considered massage therapy a sacred form of natural healing. While there are several modalities in existence today, they all share the foundation of therapeutic touch and its ability to enhance relaxation, healing, and improved overall health.
Below is a list of various forms of massage and their origin:
Ayurvedic Massage –The Ayurveda massage method is a part of the medicinal practice of ancient India, known as Ayurveda, still much alive and widely practiced today. It’s primary focus is on whole-body healing, to include; emotional, physical, and spiritual aspects of a healthy mind, body, and spirit through healthy eating, meditation, herbal remedies, and yoga.
The Ayurvedic massage dates back to 3000 BCE, yet was possibly in existence before then. Much of the Ayurveda practices were taught hands-on, thus passed down among generations orally rather than being written as text before 1500 BCE.
One of these ancient massage techniques consists of heated massage oils derived from herbal ingredients along with kneading, stroking, and energy healing, specifically to the head, hands, and feet.
Chinese Acupressure – Ancient Chinese medicine is at the crux of many modern-day holistic techniques. Chinese acupuncture is one of the original forms of massage as documented in a book entitled, “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic Book of Internal Medicine,” which dates back to 2700 BCE.
The book explains in-depth the process of acupuncture and how the application of needles are placed along the primary meridian points of the body to promote improved health. Using this same concept, the Chinese focused on using pressure applied with the fingers, rather than needles along the meridian points. A technique that is very effective in releasing tension, relieving stress, and helping rid the body of toxins.
Egyptian Reflexology –In 2500 BCE, artifacts and paintings found in Egyptian tombs displayed images of people having their feet massaged, which consequently is considered the inception of reflexology.
Reflexology is a method in which pressure is applied to specific areas of the feet and hands to restore proper energy flow.
The therapeutic methods practiced by Egyptians revolved around the energy pathways, creating the energy healing method referred to as Sekhem in ancient times; and similar to what we now refer to as Reiki.
Additionally, the Egyptians were very influential in many of the healing practices performed by both the Greeks and the Romans. Research indicates that the people of Egypt were also among the first to use essential oils and aromatherapy.
Japanese Buddhist Massage – During the 1000 BCE era, the monks of Japan adapted the ancient Chinese acupressure massage to include deep tissue massage that aided in re-balancing energy as well as rejuvenating the body, which was known as Anma.
Deep Tissue Massage of Greece – The Greeks have always been exalted for their athletic abilities, so it should be no surprise that they developed a form of deep tissue massage. This ancient massage technique compares to sports massage therapy used in the modern-day world.
The earliest recordings date back sometime between 800 and 700 BCE when physicians would use curative rubbing methods to massage away knots, ease the pain of sore muscles to keep their Greek athletes performing at peak levels. Additionally, they would incorporate the use of oils and herbs into the massage techniques, which is likened to aromatherapy massage.
Then, in 500 BCE Hippocrates, “Father of Modern Medicine” began prescribing massage and “the art of adding friction” to aid in the healing of injuries. He also encouraged healthy eating, physical activity, fresh air, listening to music, and getting plenty of rest in his health regimens.
Swedish Massage– The Swedish massage came about during the mid-1800s. The Swedish doctor Per Henril Ling, who was also a teacher and gymnast developed the “Swedish Movement System,” and often credited for the Swedish Massage. However, a Dutch practitioner by the name of Johan Georg Mezger introduced the five hand strokes and specific methods used in Swedish massage today.
Due to the exertion required to administer specific techniques, it was physicians who applied these techniques initially, until 1890, where it was implemented as a popular therapy. Since that time, Swedish massage continues to support improving blood flow, pain relief, as well as support enhanced mobility and brain function.
The Evolution of Massage Therapy
Through the ages, and in many ancient cultures, massage has been revered as a sacred healing practice and has evolved into what we know today. Swedish massage and Shiatsu are perhaps the two most common types practiced in the western world today, but indeed not the only forms.
For more than fifty years, many people have looked to mainstream medicine for alleviating pain and stress. However, massage therapy is quickly gaining momentum. As individuals becoming more in tune with their health, they recognize the benefits provided by alternative, holistic practices and the demand for quick-fix medication is growing less appealing.
The benefits of massage therapy have become so prevalent, it’s now offered as a preventative practice in a variety of professional settings, including physical therapy, birthing centers, chiropractic, nursing homes, spas, and workplaces. Ultimately, our body is an amazing machine, fighting hard to rid disease and pain naturally. There are times when conventional medicine may be required to cure or alleviate specific ailments, though it’s not uncommon for most drugs to produce side effects. The product of massage therapy is to help reduce pain and strengthen the body holistically. It can be an excellent complement to conventional medicine while providing a host of additional benefits such as; increased circulation, deep relaxation, and healing injured joints and muscles.
There is no denying the benefits of massage therapy and its ability to improve health and enhance the sensory experience on a multi-level. Even as various adaptations to the ancient practices continue to evolve, the gap between conventional medicine and holistic methods is closing. Perhaps as these two practices continue to come together to work in tandem, all massage modalities will be integrated into a standard healthcare plan.
Fortunately, whether that happens or not, society can still reap the rewards of massage therapy, as it provides relief and promotes good health to people from all walks of life. Also, being that massage is an all-natural practice, it works synergistically with other methods as well, based on individual needs or preferences. .
Gentle Touch Therapy
While various massage techniques offer unique benefits unto their own, some people find deep tissue and pressure point manipulation to be sore and painful, and refuse to seek treatment for this reason alone.
Following a deep tissue massage, you may experience more pain than before your treatment. While all massage techniques have their place, and over time, the discomfort will dissipate, it may be impeding you from gaining the myriad of benefits other forms of massage therapy offers.
However, with Gentle Touch Therapy, you’ll experience relaxation physically and mentally. This form of massage is non-invasive, providing a combination of healing energy and gentle massage, allowing the body to heal from a deep state of relaxation.
Gentle Touch Therapy does not induce pain or discomfort to obtain optimum results; rather, quite the opposite. As in the Ayurvedic tradition, healing is achieved through intuitive energy, along with cultural techniques to create the perfect balance that helps promote a happy, healthy, and grounded existence.