Massage may be the oldest and simplest form of medical care. Egyptian tomb paintings show people being massaged. In Eastern cultures, massage has been practiced continually since ancient times. A Chinese book from 2,700 B.C., The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, recommends breathing exercises, massage of skin and flesh, and exercises of hands and feet" as the appropriate treatment for complete paralysis, chills, and fever. It was one of the principal method of relieving pain for Greek and Roman physicians. Julius Caesar was said to have been given a daily massage to treat neuralgia.
Swedish massage, the method most familiar to Westerners, was developed in the 19th century by a Swedish doctor, poet, and educator named Per Henrik Ling. His system was based on a study of gymnastics and physiology, and on techniques borrowed from China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Physiotherapy, originally based on Ling's methods, was established with the foundation in 1894 of the Society of Trained Masseurs. Massage increases the circulation of blood and flow of lymph. The direct mechanical effect of rhythmically applied manual pressure and movement used in massage can dramatically increase the rate of blood flow. Also, the stimulation of nerve receptors causes the blood vessels (by reflex action) to dilate, which also facilitates blood flow. This has a profound effect on one's health.
Who gets massages?
For years, people have equated massage therapy with the "Rich and Famous". Only those professional athletes who were in extensive training or people who were wealthy were privy to this luxury. Unfortunately, through the years little has been done to change the public's impression of massage. We have been told that it is "relaxing". We know that it "feels good". We do it to "treat" ourselves. We need to be updated in our thinking about this powerful health tool. Today, massage is readily available to help us with our health.
I feel great! Do I need a massage?
Much research has been done concerning massage and little has been released to the public. Massage is not only relaxing and a feel good treat - it is a health service few people should ignore. The human body needs to be maintained just as any other sophisticated piece of machinery. We cannot wait until we have a "breakdown" to do preventive maintenance.
Doesn't everyone have "breakdowns" occasionally?
Massage is not going to avoid all "breakdowns", but it can help in preventing accumulated stress. We certainly wouldn't drive our cars without changing the oil. But, when it comes to our bodies, we are just beginning to learn the importance of proper nutrition, exercise, water intake and environmental concerns. Massage is another tool to improve our well being.
What do I do during a massage?
Relax completely. Close your eyes. Let your body be limp. Clear your mind of thoughts and focus on the music and the relaxing feelings. It is not necessary to assist the therapist.
Should I talk?
Conversation is not generally beneficial. The therapist is working on your body and concentrating on your physical condition. Feel free at any time to give the therapist feedback, if pressure is too light or too heavy - or if you are uncomfortable in any way.
What do I wear?
Whatever you are most comfortable in. It is best to remove all clothing because it is easier and more effective to massage that way, but know that your body will be covered at all times. Only those areas being massaged are exposed to permit work on specific muscles.