The art of massage is a surprisingly ancient technique. It dates back to 2330 BC, all the way to ancient Egypt with hieroglyphics found inside the Tomb of Akmanthor.
In the dark recesses of the tomb, there lies a depiction of two men waiting to get massaged as another man works the creases and cracks in the hands and feet of another. This was the first depiction of massage in history.
Today, there are over two dozen schools of massage that are scientifically proven to confer relief for anxiety, pain, and stress in long-lasting ways. Almost all massage techniques carry a very low risk of adverse effects.
Only the more vigorous forms of massage might be inappropriate for certain individuals. But barring those, people in sickness and in health both benefit tremendously from regular or even infrequent massage, as long as it is done correctly by qualified professionals who know what they are doing.
How does massage work?
By using the hands, elbows, knees, fingers, and forearms to apply pressure onto the body, the massage therapist can stimulate the body on multiple levels. From soft tissues to deep tissues, different massage techniques trigger different cell-signaling pathways.
Different pathways trigger different immune responses that provide a better environment for the healing and replenishment of tissues and cells. The tiny little traumas and scars formed in the inner layers of the muscles and musculoskeletal tissues are capable of accelerated healing and rejuvenation with the right massage techniques.
This manipulation of the body triggers what is known as the natural relaxation response lurking deep within the body. This biological state is one that prepares the body for rest and relaxation. It is easy to measure whether a person is in this state, as it brings about measurable differences such as:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Increased serotonin
- Reduced breath rate
- Increased endorphins
- Reduced noradrenaline and epinephrine levels
- Increased enkephalins
- Reduced inflammatory cytokines that result in inflammation and swelling
- Increased oxytocin levels
- Improved activation of the parasympathetic nervous system
Therapeutic massage is an incredible non-invasive means of improving health and wellness. The pain relief it provides alone makes massage an indispensable tool for millions the world over.
Additionally, when a professional massages an area, the massaged area has increased blood and lymph circulation. The soft tissues and deep tissues surrounding the muscle, such as the tendons, ligaments, and nerves, undergo rejuvenation.
Increased blood circulation results in superior removal of waste products and improvement in cellular health. Spasms, nerve compressions, and contractions are dramatically improved. The irregular tensing of muscles due to electrolyte imbalances is greatly assuaged with physical pressure onto the muscle as well.
Organs beneath the skin share pathways with the muscles, bones, and nerves in the body. What affects the rest of the body affects them, and massage can rejuvenate the organs beneath the skin just as well.
Let’s explore the additional advantages of massage and the logic behind why they work.
Myofascial release and deep ischemic compression massage techniques can dramatically affect pain receptor stimulation at the trigger points, leading to many reporting serious relief from migraines and chronic headaches with the aforementioned techniques.
Compression techniques performed at the back, shoulders, neck, and head can not only reduce pain but can also offer better sleep as well. Combination massage treatments, such as those incorporating essentials oils and traditional Chinese massage techniques have a very wide range of benefits.
Essential oils aren’t used just for their fragrance and relaxing properties. They are easily absorbed into the body via the skin and the nose. They are said to offer superior wound regeneration, blood circulation and possess pro-digestive properties.
Aromatherapy is very easily incorporated into massage therapy and entices the psychology of the customer into a calm and relaxed state. Just as the act of fine dining incorporates all the senses, so does the act of massage incorporate as many of the senses as well.
Chinese therapeutic massage has been studied at depth for its ability to increase the depth and quality of sleep in those suffering from any degree of insomnia. By improving stages 3 and 4 of sleep, therapeutic massage is proven to improve immune, metabolic and biochemical markers in clients.
Chinese therapeutic massage is a fantastic non-invasive method of addressing sleep issues. Massage is a perfectly safe means of recuperating from surgery or medical conditions by stimulating tissue regeneration.
The Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals notes that doctors are increasing including post-op massages in their recuperation programs after the successful completion of surgeries.
Certain massage techniques are just as effective as medications for managing pain and reducing scars.
They work just as well for restoring damaged tissues with fresh, vibrant new tissues with regular massage sessions that are conducted as part of a responsible aftercare program.
For those looking to realize all the benefits of combination massage therapies, the InBalance institute offers rejuvenating massage sessions available on appointment for 30, 60, 90, or 120-minute session durations.