Massage is one of the oldest and simplest forms of therapy. It is a system of stroking, pressing, and kneading different areas of the body to relieve pain, relax, stimulate, and tone the body.
Massage does much more than create a pleasant sensation on the skin, it also works on the soft tissues to improve muscle tone. Although it largely affects those muscles just under the skin, its benefits may also reach the deeper layers of muscle and possibly even the organs themselves.
Massage also stimulates blood circulation and assists the lymphatic system, which improves the elimination of waste throughout the body.
A 2016 survey by the American Massage Therapy Association shows that nearly half of Americans have used massage therapy as a way to manage and relieve pain. Also according to the survey, more and more insurers have begun paying for massage therapy. Massage therapy is beneficial for a variety of conditions including:
- Chronic muscular tension and pain
- Sports injuries
- Soft tissue injuries from auto accidents
- Pregnancy aches and pains
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Poor circulation
- High blood pressure
The most common complementary therapy
Hospitals and medical clinics around the United States are beginning to integrate massage into patient care. In fact, massage is currently the most common complementary therapy offered in U.S. hospitals, according to an American Hospital Association survey in 2003.
Massage is a very important therapeutic approach which too often remains underutilized and under appreciated. Many people and many medical doctors still think massage is only good for aches and pains, but research now disputes that view. Researchers at UCLA’s East-West Center in Santa Monica, California, have shown that massage activates the body’s own healing system. The Center’s team of four therapists regularly uses massage to alleviate pain and symptoms for patients suffering from illnesses such as fibromyalgia, migraines, and back pain. About half of the Center’s patients receive some massage therapy as part of their treatment program, which may also include traditional medicine.
Although a single massage will be enjoyable, practitioners say that the effects of massage are cumulative, and a course of massage treatments will bring the greatest benefit. Regular massage can have the effect of strengthening and toning the entire body mechanism, thus helping prevent unnecessary strains and injuries that might otherwise occur due to excess tension and any resulting structural weaknesses. Massage can stimulate or calm the nervous system, helping to reduce fatigue, leaving the patient feeling replenished. At its best, massage has the potential to restore the individual physically, mentally and spiritually.