Massage therapy is one of the oldest methods of healing, as the practice of therapeutic massage can be traced back nearly 4,000 years. Massage therapy refers to a comprehensive health management strategy focusing on the application of various techniques to positively affect the soft tissues and joints of the body. Massage techniques most commonly include pressure and compression, kneading, frictioning, and mobilizing to improve the health and condition of the muscles, tendons, skin, fascia or connective tissue of the body. Today massage is thought of as a holistic therapy that complements medical treatment. Massage can decrease pain, improve range of motion, improve mood, aid in the circulation of blood and lymph flow, reduce muscle and joint soreness, and improve sleep.
Massage Therapy Applications
The Touch Research Institute, University of Miami, has completed many research studies on massage therapy. These researchers have found evidence that massage has significant benefit for babies, children, adults, and elderly persons. Massage therapy has been shown to enhance growth in premature babies in the hospital, calm aggressive adolescents and help kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. Elderly persons in extended health environments have responded to massage with decreased agitated behaviour.
On the Job
Corporations and other institutions are discovering that massage therapy programs for employees pay off. Job stress has been identified as a serious health care issue that relates to decreased productivity, decrease job satisfaction, increased work related injury, errors and absenteeism.
Stress, Depression, and Immunity
Massage therapy studies have shown positive results in boosting the body's own natural cellular immune response, decreasing pain by pumping up the body's levels of endorphins and decreasing the blood levels of cortisol which is a hormone related to stress. These beneficial results are proving helpful for people with critical illnesses like cancer and HIV infection and for those who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.
Athletes, coaches, and professional trainers use massage therapy at sporting events to help an athlete's performance and to help prevent injury. Massage may improve muscle recovery and decrease muscle soreness after exertion. Athletes also benefit from massage therapy's positive effects on heart rate and blood pressure, and the general relaxation response that reduces anxiety and improves mood.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
Receiving massage therapy is safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Many women enjoy the skilled care of a massage therapist to help to alleviate back, neck, and shoulder pain associated with changes in the body during pregnancy. The general benefits of increased circulation and enhanced well-being are valuable therapeutic effects. Specially trained massage therapists can even participate during childbirth to help decrease pain and anxiety.
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