History. Massage goes as far back in history as the existence of man. It is probably the oldest form of medical treatment and it has been used throughout history in all cultures. The word massage derives from an Arabic word 'masah' which means to stroke with the hand. Ancient Chinese, Indian and Egyptian writings refer to massage for prevention and cure of diseases and healing injuries. Ancient Greek and Roman literature also refers to massage. In the 18th and 19th centuries massage grew in popularity in Europe. The Swede, Ling, devised the system of Swedish massage which we use today. Massage is today regaining its rightful place in health care as a complement to other medical treatments.
Benefits. Massage is one of the easiest ways of reaching and maintaining good health. It is natural to all of us to rub parts of the body when they are aching. The basis of massage is touch, and there is now medical evidence showing the value of touch. Without touch people can become irritable and depressed. In our society there is confusion between sensuality and sexuality and touch has become very formalised. Massage removes the taboos of touching and allows people to be touched in a positive way. Massage has profound effects on the health of the person being massaged.
Neurology. Massage encourages the release of endorphins, the body's natural opiates that reduce pain and produce a feeling of well being.
Circulation. Massage improves circulation by assisting the flow of venous blood from extremities back to the heart. It also pushes blood into superficial vessels and capillaries which may not always receive enough blood, thus carrying more nutrients and oxygen to organs, muscles and other tissue.
Digestion. Massage of the abdomen will stimulate the muscles of the stomach, intestines and bowel increasing efficient digestion. This means a more complete elimination of toxins and a decrease in the amount of disease causing bacteria in the body.
Muscles. Through tension and overuse muscles often remain in a permanent state of contraction, causing pain, blockages and reduced flexibility and range of movement. Massage enables muscles to relax and lengthen. Massage also encourages fresh blood into the congested area, bringing fresh nutrients and oxygen to the fatigued muscle; massage also aids the removal of toxic waste products produced by muscle action. Massage works directly into injured muscles and fascia to encourage repair. Exercise can be more regular if muscles are functioning better due to massage.
Other benefits The production of red blood cells, the lowering of high blood pressure and improving the function of glands in the skin are only some of the other physical benefits of massage.
Lymphatic drainage. The lymphatic system fights infection and develops immunity. It can only operate with the assistance of healthy muscle action. Massage improves this process.
Secondary Effects. The direct physical benefits of massage combined with the psychological effects of being cared for quickly produce a marvellous feeling of well being and relaxation which cannot be matched by modern drugs. One massage is wonderful, but the accumulative effects of regular massage are to be recommended.