The practice of massage has been around for ages and can be traced back to 2700 b.c. Ancient Eastern Chinese cultures used massages to address many health problems.
Evidence of the use of massage for healing has also been found In other ancient civilizations such as: Mesopotamia, Japan, India, Egypt and Greece. Ancient paintings on tombs have been found that depict the practice of massage. It is believed that it came about because the first thing you are inclined to do when you have pain, is to rub or touch the area that is hurting. If you think about it, for the most part this is true!
The word originates from the French word massage which means friction of kneading. It also comes from the Arabic word massa which means feeling, handling or touching; and, from the Latin word massa meaning mass and dough. Many years ago in ancient Greek and Latin, the Greek word for massage was anatripsis and the old Latin word was frictio. As you can see, all of these terms relate to movement of the hands on the body, just as you would knead and work dough in the kitchen.
Studies Show The Benefits of Massage
Massages can aid with alleviating pain and relaxing the muscles in many parts of the body. Common target areas are muscles, joints, skin, tendons, ligaments, connective tissue, and even organs in the gastrointestinal system. Fingers, elbows, feet, hands, knees and forearms can be used during the application of massage.
The National Institute of Health National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) conducted studies from 2008 – 2012. These studies concluded that massages help with reducing pain in cancer patients as well as relaxing them and uplifting their mood.
Studies were also done on massage benefits with conditions like Fibromyalgia, headaches, HIV/AIDs, chronic lower back and neck pain, pregnancy and infant care. In all of these studies it was shown that massages can help if done by a licensed, trained therapist.
If you speak to 10 people about back pain, eight of them will tell you that they experience debilitating back pain, according to Time.com. If you are one of those people, then you know how difficult it is to live with that pain on a daily basis. It has been shown that massages lessen stiffness and pain, and improve range of motion.
According to Health Magazine, studies have also linked massage to healthy sleep. This is because being rubbed down affects delta waves – brain waves attached to deep sleep. For women, it has been shown that massages help with PMS symptoms. In 2009, a study indicated that 30 minutes of massaging could reduce tension headaches.
According to WebMD, a regular massage can reduce the number of migraines a person has. The list of benefits goes on: anxiety, sports injuries, soft tissue strains, insomnia, and digestive disorders are some of the other areas that have been shown to improve with massages.
It is good to know what the experts say, but the real expert is you, because you know how your body feels after a good massage!!
What Type of Massage Should I Choose?
Great question, since there are a variety to choose from. Remember that thanks to technological advances, those who feel uncomfortable receiving in-person massages can opt for to receive the same benefits through the use of a massage chair. While the overall effect may be slightly different, and the massage options may be more limited, popular chairs like the Panasonic EP1285KL can give surprisingly pleasing results.
Here are a few types of massages along with their descriptions.
Deep Massage – This is a slower technique using stronger strokes and focusing on the deep layers of connective tissue and muscle. Deep massage helps with damaged muscles from an injury.
Swedish Massage – This is a common massage seen in many spas. It involves long strokes and deep circular kneading motion. A combination of tapping and vibration are also used for energy and relaxation.
Trigger Point Massage – After you have overused or injured a muscle, tight muscle fibers often form in that area. This massage focuses on specific areas to loosen those fibers.
Aromatherapy Massage – Scent is key to this massage. Essential oils that are considered relaxing and energizing are used by the masseuse. Examples of essential oils are lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus oil. People under stress frequently get these massages. The oils can be inhaled using steaming hot water or a vaporizer and create a pleasurable, relaxing feeling.
Acupressure – Similar to acupuncture, this is a Chinese technique that uses the fingers instead of needles to stimulate points on the body. It is often used to ease headaches, sinus problems, arthritis, constipation, and many other health issues.
Is Massage Therapy Covered by Insurance?
Massages are often considered as alternative medicine and it is best to check with your insurance company before seeking reimbursement. Laws vary from state to state. There are codes called CPT codes (Current Procedural Terminology) that are used when billing insurance companies. These codes describe specific procedures performed by health care providers. Some insurance companies have massage therapy included in their wellness benefit. The best course of action is to check with your provider first if you would like reimbursement or discounted massage therapy.
The type of massage therapy you use is dependent on whether you just want relaxation or if you are experiencing a particular health issue. Speak to your health practitioner for guidance. Remember, be sure to look for a licensed massage therapist or seek advice on the best massage chair for your needs.
There are very few risks that come with massage, but there are a few things that can occur like bruising or internal bleeding. A well trained therapist will know areas to avoid such as areas that have blood clots, open wounds or fractures, and areas that have tumors. A skilled massage therapist will welcome your questions.