Massage Therapy: Ancient Healing Practice With Modern Day Benefits
June 27, 2017
With so much focus these days on going back to our roots as a means of healing, it’s no wonder massage therapy is becoming a popular wellness option. As one of the world’s most ancient healing techniques, massage therapy benefits can provide us with the much-needed stress reduction and health enhancement we need to tackle our busy lives.
What is Massage Therapy?
Massage therapy is a broad term used to describe a service that provides touch and bodywork healing to the client. A skilled massage therapist uses manual touch to manipulate their client’s soft tissues, which include connective tissue, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
There are dozens of forms of therapeutic massage known as modalities. Each modality has its own philosophy. Which modality the therapist uses is largely based on the client’s individual needs and ailments.
Regardless of the modality used, the ultimate goal of massage therapy is to improve the client’s health and wellbeing and address specific problem areas that need repair. But in principle, they all have commonalities that work with the body’s different systems and functions.
History of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy has been a staple element of natural healing for thousands of years. Though it’s perhaps better understood today from a medical or scientific perspective, the practice itself largely holds true to its original roots.
Ancient civilizations in both the East and West believed in massage therapy benefits. They felt it was a sacred and natural way to heal injuries and prevent and cure diseases. They also knew that it could relieve pain, reduce stress and help achieve a deep state of relaxation.
Historians estimate that an early form of massage began as a healing method in India around 3,000 BCE. As part of the traditional medical system in India called Ayurveda, holistic wellness practitioners used touch therapy as a way to restore balance and harmony in their patients.
The ancient Chinese practiced massage therapy dating back to 2700 BCE. In traditional Chinese medicine, massage was used as a way to prevent disease and promote health and vitality by restoring balance to the body’s internal energy called Qi. Touch therapy and bodywork helped to facilitate the free flow of this energy along the body’s internal energy pathways known as meridians. This offered the body a greater chance of healing itself.
Scientists studied Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings, which reveal that this traditional civilization used bodywork and kneading techniques on their people. Scientists also feel that around 2500 BCE, the Egyptian medical system developed reflexology—a type of bodywork that connects pressure points on the hands and feet to other areas of the body for a variety of health benefits. Traditional healing methods in Egypt would eventually make their way to the Greek and Roman cultures.
By 800 BCE, Ancient Greeks began practicing massage therapy on their athletes to maintain peak physical condition. Greek physicians combined aromatherapy oils with their massage techniques as a way of treating a range of conditions. By 500 BCE, Hippocrates taught his colleagues the benefits of body rubbing to heal injuries. He believed that “friction”, as he called it, should be used in conjunction with healthy diet, sleep and exercise habits to help the body heal itself.
“The physician must be experienced in many things, but most assuredly in rubbing.” –Hippocrates
As medicine continued to advance, massage therapy faded from standard medical practice. It was replaced instead with rapidly developing pharmacological approaches. However, by the 1800s, massage therapy made a comeback. The Swedish massage, pioneered by Per Henrik Ling, was used as part of the Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. The system employed bodywork techniques like pressing, squeezing and stroking. Eventually, the technique was perfected into what we know today as the Swedish massage.
By the early 1900s, physicians treated World War I soldiers for their physical injuries, nerve damage and shell shock (PTSD) using massage therapy. It proved to be an effective form of treatment and became a recognized and valued medical profession throughout Europe and North America.
It wasn’t until the 1950s when massage therapy benefits were revitalized yet again in the US. This was part of the resurgence in popularity of natural healing methods. By the 1980s, massage therapy was widely accepted as a sought-after and effective wellness technique.
Today, massage therapy is a desirable profession and an important service. The practice of today represents an amalgam of both ancient and modern techniques all with the unwavering goal of helping patients achieve physical and emotional wellbeing. Massage therapy benefits are increasingly supported by evidenced-based research from the scientific community.
Massage Therapy Benefits for Stress Reduction
Massage therapy benefits are needed today more than ever for many reasons. The curse of today’s society is the overwhelming busyness and non-stop, on-the-go lifestyles that we’ve fallen victim to. Stress causes severe muscle tension and chronic pain. Additionally, many of us sit at computers all day, which can lead to shoulder, neck and back pain.
Our sedentary, non-ergonomic lives can cause acute injury and chronic postural problems. Additionally, these problems can be compounded by an unrelenting gravitational field, which leads to chronic stress and tension. This is why it’s important to receive regular massage therapy sessions to counter the daily onslaught to our bodies. Benefits of massage therapy can be felt virtually immediately, and over time, the long-term benefits will pay off in illness prevention and increased productivity.
Aquarius Wellness offers leading massage therapy techniques, including Andrew’s Signature Massage. Our team can help you restore peace and wellness into your life, alleviate chronic tension and help prevent further injury or illness. Book an appointment today, or browse through our other esthetic, acupuncture and healing services at Aquarius Wellness.
Emily Rodgers is a freelance health and wellness writer and editor. Dedicated to covering topics about natural alternatives, Emily strives to educate readers how to live healthier, more balanced lives. Emily believes that information empowers people to take charge of their wellbeing so they can become the best versions of themselves. Contact Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website HealthyContentAgency.com