Massage Therapy Explained

Massage Therapy is one of the most luring tourist attractions across the globe today. Different countries are promoting their own flavors of it, and the consumers are enjoying the vast variety being offered in the global markets. There is also a growing interest in how it works, its history and its real effects, including its healing impact.
Massage Therapy Explained
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Massage Therapy: How does it Work?

Massage therapy has its basis in improving the blood circulation of the skin and muscles, and stimulating the nerves in a manner that has a pleasant and soothing effect. Though practiced in many ways it developed differently in different parts of the world, at different points of time, and with different subtle characteristics and individualities, all forms of massage therapy actually provide a 'balming effect' - they create a sensation that has a masking effect on some other not so pleasant sensation, like ache or pain, and thereby helps in relieving the suffering.

The History of
Message Therapy

Although it is called a therapy, it will not be wrong to say that many a times it is used by people who may not be called sick, but who still prefer to undergo it for the sake of its pleasant experience.
Before I say more, let me share an interesting fact. The word 'shampoo' is actually derived from the Indian word 'champi', which means massage, and was popularized first by an Indian entrepreneur, who opened a shampooing bath called, 'Mahomed's Indian Vapour Baths' in Brighton England, in 1759.

Massage was considered a form of therapy even in ancient times, in all ancient civilizations. Ayurvedic massages of many types have been popular in India since as long as 5000 years ago. Hippocrates wrote about massages in 5th century BC. In China, an ancient book, ‘Huangdi Neijing’ also refers to them. Angkor Wat temple of Cambodia also depicts scenes of massage though not as a form of therapy. The traditional massage of 'Nihom Kaifuku Anma' was developed in Japan around 1300 years ago. In recent times, massage therapy has been popularized in the western world in the nineteenth century by two New York physicians by using the techniques developed by Per Henrik Ling in Sweden.

The Basic Principles of Massage & Its Effects

The massage

is undertaken usually with aid of substances that reduce the friction to protect the skin from too much damage. Oils with some flavor and astringent effect are more popular as they magnify the chemical effects of massage.

Most massages consist of rubbing the skin, but the nature of this rubbing may vary from extremely gentle rub of foreheads to strong kneading of thighs and back muscles by using feet. Further it can be as short as a few minutes to as long as a couple of hours. However, the important characteristics remain the same. The rubbing stimulates nerves, and accelerates flow of blood in that part of the body. The pressure applied on skin, with unidirectional movement towards the center of the body also helps the lymph to flow inwards, and the venous blood to empty into circulation. All these have the effect of increasing circulation and improving the supply of oxygen and nutrition to the skin and muscles undergoing massage.

The other main effect of massage is to create a sensation, by touch, pressure, temperature and chemicals i.e.. oil, all applied at once during the massage. This sensation is not unpleasant, and often overpowers some other not so pleasant sensation by masking it. This is how massage helps alleviate the pain without affecting the actual disease.

The different massage techniques developed by different societies are a form of an art, which has helped the humanity in times when our knowledge was not enough to have other remedies. But even today, it remains an effective tool, and is not just a therapy for the sick, but also a pleasant experience which many of us may prefer to indulge in.



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