History of massage

The oldest recorded knowledge of massage comes from the Tomb of Akmanthor, otherwise known as The Tomb of the Physician. The massage is depicted in a hieroglyph, made in around 2330 BC, in Saqqara, Egypt, shows two men having their hands and feet rubbed. Older references have been made to massage, but no actual recorded evidence of these references exists, as they were made to times before recorded history.  Huangdi Neijing is the most famous ancient Chinese medical text from which all modern medicine has been influenced. The text contains advice and tips on different massage techniques that should be used to treat different ailments or injuries. The book makes references to medical knowledge from the time of the Yellow Emperor, who is a great historical figure in china and widely accepted as the initiator of civilization in china. Sadly however no written evidence exists from this time, 2696 BC to 2598 BC, as nobody was making recordings of the times in books as they began to much later.

In 700 BC the earliest known Chinese physician, Bian Que, began to use massage as a medical treatment and sparked the beginning of massage's well-known medical uses. This later influenced the 'Father Doctor', Shivago Komarpaj when he founded traditional Thai massage and Thai medicine. His developments combined acupressure, yoga positions, and reflexology into a healing system, which today has been found to be based on a combination of Chinese and Indian traditions of medicine.  While massage is today regarded as having positive health benefits there are also negative effects it can have on the body. In Cambodia a depiction of a daemon using massage to abort a baby in a woman's womb can be seen on one of the bas-reliefs, sculptures, decorating the temple of Angkor Wat. This is the earliest ever known an image of abortion and shows the sinister side of massage that must have been used often by women to avoid having babies too young or as a result of an affair.  Massage techniques from Huangdi Neijing were translated into French in 1776 AD, bringing the highly advanced and developed Chinese systems of medical gymnastics, medical massage and medicine to Europe, where they began to grow in popularity. In the same year Pehr Henrik Ling, known today as the 'Father Of Massage', was born. He is known to have developed Classic Massage and Sweedish Massage, both of which are widely used today. Pehr Henrik Ling is also said to have been influenced by The Cong-Fou of the Tao-Tse, a French translation of medical techniques that were used by Taoist priests. The book was written by a Christian neophyte who has studied the techniques detailed in it for many years before his conversion, named Pierre-Martial Cibot.

Today massage has blossomed into many different areas of the world. It is used by medical professionals to help ease pain and treat certain conditions. Massage also inspired physiotherapy, which is used by all sporting professionals to help their muscles heal after intense exercise, as well as prepare them for big sporting events. Mainly, however, massage is used as a relaxation treatment in spa's and hotels, offering a relaxing service to any guests that choose to stay with them, as well as mobile masseurs who help those in need of a massage at home and provide a luxury service.    Ancient manuscripts from India and China contain numerous references to the use of massage it is also illustrated in paintings discovered in Egyptian tombs. Roman doctors valued its pain-relieving properties - in fact, Julius Caesar is known to have received regular massage treatment for the relief of neuralgia. The Greeks, too, thought highly of massage. In the 5th century, Hippocrates recommended: "...a scented bath and an oiled massage each day".  In fact, massage of one kind or another has been widely used since the dawn of history and is still extremely popular. Instruction on its therapeutic properties is now included in the nursing training. It is widely used, too, in the care of babies and the elderly, in hospices, health centers, pain clinics and addiction units.  In the 1970s the American masseur, George Downing devised a massage treatment that we would now consider "holistic". His system took into account the whole person - not only the patient's body but their mental and emotional makeup too. Downing's methods have been copied and elaborated upon ever since until now, some 30 years later, it is difficult to list all the widely differing forms of massage available.  Complete relaxation - physical, mental and emotional - is undoubtedly one of the major benefits to be gained from any such therapy. Others include the treatment of back and neck pain, the promotion of circulation and the relief of insomnia and high blood pressure. It is popular, too, with athletes, dancers, and sportsmen, easing the muscular fatigue experienced after prolonged physical activity. In fact, massage comes close to being an overall treatment for almost every condition.

Can massage help you?

The answer to this question is almost certainly "yes". If you suffer from any form of stress or tension, massage will at least ease your problems. It will relieve pain or discomfort in almost every part of the body and is a known palliative for depression and other emotional ills.  However, massage cannot actually cure anything and you should bear this in mind. Though it is true that even cancer patients often benefit from this therapy, it will most certainly not get rid of the disease itself. Similar comments apply to all other illnesses. Massage should be regarded as a therapy, not a potential cure.  As always, it is advisable to consult your medical practitioner before receiving massage therapy. In some cases, it could worsen your condition.  On a lighter note, for obvious reasons you should beware of the many newspaper ads for "massage parlors" and friendly home visits". Whatever is being offered here, it is not the type of massage considered in this article. Ensure that the practitioner you select is well qualified and a member of a reputable organization.

Other types of massage

Basic massage treatment as it is normally given involves rubbing, kneading and stroking the client's body with the hands. Some completely reputable practitioners use other systems - for example, employing the feet and elbows in addition to the hands. Others have incorporated massage techniques into a variety of complementary therapies - reflexology and shiatsu, for example. All can be beneficial and, in trained hands, are perfectly safe.  Massage: What it is and Where it Came From  Many people think of massage as a touchy-feely or purely for relaxation experience, but in reality Manual Medicine is one of the most ancient healing modalities. In addition, it is easily one of the most sustainable forms of medicine available.  History:  Massage, in it's various forms, has been noted by historians and used by people for it's healing effects for as long as there has been civilization. Ever heard of the 'power of touch'? This philosophy of treatment, where touch is applied to the patient using oils, aromatics, various tools, or just with the hands in specific patterns, has been used since the time of ancient China. The original Chinese treatment form was called "Amma" or "Anma". Today Chinese medicine uses a form of massage called Tui Na. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, wrote in 460 BC "The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing" a reference to the importance of manual therapies even in the ancient world.  What it does:  Throughout the millennia, as people have discovered more about the human body, manual therapies have evolved and specialized. Massage promotes the body's innate ability to heal itself. One of the main effects of massage is the down-regulation of the sympathetic (fight/flight) nervous system allowing for proper rest and recovery.  Massage itself takes on many forms, names, and intents depending on the country of origin, who taught it, and even the practitioner. What all forms work with, no matter what the purpose of the treatment, is the soft and connective tissues of the body. The main tissue treated is muscle and the musculoskeletal system, the largest system in the body.

Other structures worked with are tendons, ligaments, fascia, joints, cartilage, and even organs.  Light and Relaxing Massage has been shown to improve circulation, lymph drainage, and decrease hypertension (high blood pressure), anxiety and depression. This facilitates the healing abilities of the body and works very well in conjunction with other modalities and treatment options.  Deeper massage is shown to loosen muscle and break up tendon and ligament adhesions. This helps with proper healing of wounds through aligning scar tissue and removing restrictions.  Massage is a great option to speed the healing process after a major surgery or accident.  Purpose:  The Goal of Massage treatments is to remove restrictions of all sorts. Restrictions and damage to the soft tissues can be the cause of much pain and restricted movement in the body.  Remedial or Orthopaedic Massage:  Remedial massage, also know as Orthopaedic Massage, as the name implies is about finding a Remedy (remedial=remedy) for your pain. This is one of the most clinical and thorough treatment options. Working with a detailed assessment process, this branch of manual medicine looks for the root cause of the pain. It works holistically by treating the cause or underlying dysfunction to allow the person to heal fully, not just cover the pain.  Practitioners will commonly provide home care advice, and exercises to help to patient improve even without direct treatment.  Treatment:  Treatment techniques used are dependent on the diagnosis by the practitioner. But some techniques are:Massage (Relaxation/Swedish Techniques)  Sustainability:  All it takes for the basic forms of treatment is one person who knows what they are doing.. Traditional Shiatsu still uses just a thin mat on the ground and oils can be used but are not necessary. Massage can be taught by someone knowledgeable and is easily practiced once you know the basics. Even the most inexperienced therapist can improve circulation and healing time simply by just giving the skin a rub. On the other hand a skilled practitioner can work with very complicated conditions, such as dysfunction in the diaphragm and joint degeneration. One practitioner can teach a class and have them working to clear oedema and improve limb circulation in under a month, while decreasing pain, and providing relaxation and relief in those with more serious conditions.  Conditions:  Some conditions that can be treated, or helped with, Massage Techniques are:Neurological symptoms: Numbness, tingling, nausea, migrainesLower Back PainDisc ProlapseJoint PainArthritisAcute PainSprains/StrainsEdemaRestricted MovementScar TissueDislocationsWhiplashRepetitive Strain Injury (RSI)Plantar FasciitisInflammationFrozen ShoulderHeadachesSinusitisCancerFibromyalgiaAnxietyDepressionsDigestive UpsetGeneral Pain Relief  Massage will be a very important tool in the future as it is a modality that lends itself to be easily taught and used with very little resources, and has a quick turn-over of students who can practice in a basic method very quickly. This makes it one of the most sustainable forms of medicine.    The unwinding advantages of massage have found to permit individuals to have better inclinations, resting examples and handle distressing circumstances better too enhancing their wellbeing. Expanded blood course assists with poor circulatory issues and increments vascular wellbeing. Recuperation times are diminished through better dissemination and advance builds mending over zones of scars.  Massage has become an increased part of pre and post-training regime for amateur and professionals alike. As a warm-up method massage helps to increase blood flow, allowing more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, warming them and preparing them for exercise. As a cool-down method massage again increases blood flow, this time to help remove the build up of toxins from within the muscles. Recent research has shown deep muscle massage after a workout can cause muscles to enlarge and grow new mitochondria; these turn important nutrients into energy used within the body. The increased number and size of mitochondria is related to massage after exercise; without post workout massage, there was no change to the mitochondria numbers or size. An increase in mitochondria improves endurance and performance, as they are the main power sources for the body, an increased number means an increases rate at which the muscles utilize oxygen. Relieving muscle tension, spasms, DOMS and removal of scar tissue as well as increase blood flow allows the athlete to have quicker recovery times and greater ability to train harder.