Massage can be used in various forms to stimulate and relax. Physical and psychological benefits have been used throughout history and are used to treat conditions. The therapeutic touch has led to its use as a holistic treatment.
Massage is the manipulation of superficial layers of muscle and connective tissue to promote relaxation and well-being. Massage involves acting on and manipulating the body with pressure. The target tissues include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints and any other connective tissue as well as lymphatic vessels or any organs of the gastrointestinal system. There are over eighty different recognised massage modalities and the most cited reasons for introducing massage as therapy have been client demand and perceived clinical effectiveness. Rubbing parts of the body is a natural and instinctive way to relieve pain and discomfort. This instinct was probably led to most forms of massage. The first to be developed was the sense of touch and it is essential to our growth as human beings. Massage can be used to stimulate or relax.
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McDonald and Goldberg (1996:72-89) insist that throughout its history it has been used for both its physical and physiological benefits and is used to treat a range of conditions from both stress and posture related to headaches, abdominal, pelvic, muscle and back pain either a result from specific injuries like falls, sports and car accidents or just general pain. The therapeutic touch has led to its use as a holistic treatment, one that treats the body and mind as a whole. The word ‘massage’ is thought to be deprived either from the Arabic for ‘press softly’ or from the Greek for ‘knead’, massage treatments has been passed down through centuries for thousands of years. In ancient china over five thousand years ago there was a system of massage and exercise in use, it is almost certain that most races used massage and exercise in one form or another dating as far back as the prehistoric ages of man. People of ancient civilisations in Persia, Japan and Egypt practised the art of massage for cosmetic purposes and also found out that they all gained therapeutic effects when they rubbed oils and perfumes into their body to beautify their skin.
Around 500BC the Greek historian Herodotus applied exercises and massage on the treatment of disease principles about the technique of rubbing that began to be formulated. Massage was directed away from the heart and the pressure was varied during the treatment. It would begin with being gentle and then it becomes deeper and quicker and ends slowly. In the large cities of Greece, gymnastic centres were set up where students and philosophers could meet to discuss philosophy and attend lectures while bathing and exercising at the same time. Hippocrates, the father of medicine about 380BC really only used massage for the treatment of injuries and diseases, he found that it was more beneficial if rubbing was done towards the heart during the treatment although the circulatory system was not understood then. From his emphasis on pressure application he discovered the physiological effects of massage that are accepted today. During 130-200AD a famous doctor during the Roman era called Galen experimented in physiology and discovered that arteries were filled with blood, not air as previously believed. He varied the direction of massage and also greatly believed in treating injuries and diseases with it.
During the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Switzerland, France, Italy, Prussia and England produced several famous surgeons and physicians who began once again to use massage treatment for injuries and diseases. The old terminology of massage remained but new words were introduced such as pressure, kneading and manipulations. From the end of the eighteenth century a great revival in massage began. Many authorities wrote and expounded their theories on the subject, one extremist advocated that massage should be performed with great violence and they all had different ideas about the terminology, pressure, rate, rhythm and any medium such as oil or powder that can be used, the position of the patient and the duration of the treatment.
In the early nineteenth century Peter Henry Ling of Sweden made the most dramatic contribution to massage at this time. His influence spread throughout Europe and America, he realised that it was important to acquire certain knowledge of anatomy and physiology before applying massage treatments. He created a style of treatment to promote health by increasing blood circulation and stimulating the body’s healing abilities. It is known that Ling’s greatest influence came from a Chinese friend who was a master of martial arts and Chinese Tui Na massage.
A Dutch practitioner names Johan Georg Mezgar later developed a reduced set of Ling’s techniques to form our modern style of Swedish massage; it is Mezgar who adapted the French names commonly used to indicate the basic strokes.
Doctor Mezgar helped to establish massage as a reputable means of treatment by prescribing it widely and practising it himself. In 1894 a group of women joined together to form a society of trained masseuses in order to try to raise the reputation and standard of massage in this country. Although massage in physiotherapy had reached a high standard it seemed as though there was an urgent need to raise the standard in the beauty industry.
According to Jenkins, Massage of essence (2006), the term holistic comes from the Greek word ‘Holos’ which means whole. The holistic approach takes the persons whole body into account. The treatment takes an effect on the body arising from environment, psychology and nutrition. Holistic massage treats each person individually in context of their own life, it enables the person to improve and control their health, and it always keeps the principle of treating the body, mind and soul as one.
Holistic massage is about looking at the causes of tension and working with the whole body to help restore the whole body’s natural inner balance. The approach with holistic massage is based around oil-based Swedish massage (effleurage, petrissage and percussion)
Massage as a holistic treatment takes into consideration the physical, mental, spiritual and environmental circumstances of a person receiving a massage treatment, this means that the treatment should be different for each person.
Massage benefits the body because of the specific techniques it involves. The movements and firm pressure affect all systems in the body, including soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments and also nerves and glands. When the pressure is applied in movements to your muscles it is in tune with the natural flow of blood back to your heat. Massage is one of the best known antidotes for stress; reducing stress gives you more energy. It improves your outlook on life and reduces your likelihood of illness and injury. It can also relieve symptoms of conditions that are aggravated by anxiety.
There are psychological and physiological effects of massage, which some of them are:
Encourages the mind and body
Concentration and alertness is often improved due to relaxation
Energy levels are increased
Increase in confidence and positive outlook
Promotes a feeling of increased health and wellbeing
Reduces stress levels
Increases the clients feeling of being cared for, supported and nurtured
Aids general relaxation
Stimulates blood circulation
Helps improve lymphatic flow
Reduces muscular tension
Layers of the skin are stimulated which increases cellular function and regeneration of cells
Relieves stiffness in the neck and shoulder resulting in pain relief
Loosens scar tissue
Warms the muscles
Nerve endings are soothed and stimulated
Aids in desquamation improving the texture of the skin
Softens fatty deposits
Helps reduce non medical swelling
Encourages deeper breathing to a more relaxed breathing
Effects on the skeletal system
Improves muscle tone and balance
Reduces the physical stress placed on joints and bones
It helps to free adhesions
Increases joint mobility, reducing any thickening of the connective tissue
Effects on the Muscular system
Relieves muscular tightness, stiffness , restrictions and spasms in the muscle tissue
Increases flexibility in the muscles
Increases blood circulation
Reduces muscle fatigue and soreness
Promotes rapid removal of waste and toxins from the muscle
Effects on the lymphatic system
Increases lymph drainage
Strengthens the immune system
Effects on the Nervous system
Stimulates sensory receptors
Reduces pain by the release of endorphins
Stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system
Effects on the cardiovascular system
Dilates blood vessels
Produces an enhanced blood flow
Helps temporarily decrease blood flow
Decreases heart rate due to relaxation
Effects on the skin
Increased nutrition to the cells and encourages cell regeneration
Increases production of sweat from the sweat glands
Improves elasticity on the skin
Increases sebum production
Helps improve the skins colour
Helps to improve the skins suppleness and resistance to infection
Effects on the digestive system
Increases peristalsis in the large intestine
Helps to relieve constipation
Promotes the activity of parasympathetic nervous system. Which stimulates digestion
Effects on the urinary system
Increases circulation and lymph drainage from the tissues
Effects on the respiratory system
Slows down the rate of respiration
Improves lung capacity by relaxing tightness in the respiratory muscles
Massage uses specific techniques such as effleurage, petrissage, kneading and tapotement; these treat the soft tissues of the body. Movements are primarily towards the heart so it can improve blood and lymph circulation, as well as to reduce muscle tension and to encourage flexibility. The massage techniques have certain effects to the body which are:
Soothing effect on the nerves including relaxation
Increases both blood and lymph circulation
Tension relief, relaxing tense muscles
Increases blood and lymph circulation
Increases venous return
Breaks down tension nodules
Speeds up the removal of waste products
Aids sluggish frictions
Tones and strengthens muscles
Helps loosen mucus in chest conditions
Stimulates nerve endings
Helps to break down tight nodules
Aids in relaxation
Increases lymph and blood flow
Clears and stimulates the nerves pathways
Relieves tension in the neck and back
Can help increase the action of lungs
Helps to increase peristalsis in the colon
In India massage therapy was licensed in March 1955 by the department of Ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homoeopathy under the ministry of health and family welfare.
In china many of the smaller massage parlours are fronts for prostitution. These are called falangmei. Most types of massage are not regulated in china without the exception of some traditional Chinese medicine.
In Japan oil and Thai massage are not regulated but shiatsu massage is prostitutes posing as massage therapists are fairly common in the larger cities; they pose in fashion health shops and pink salons.
In order to get a license it requires three years of study and two exams.
In South Korea, only visually- impaired and blind people can become licensed massage therapists.
In New Zealand, massage is unregulated. The professional body for massage therapists and the registration at the remedial massage therapist denotes competency in the practice of remedial or orthopaedic massage; these are two levels of registration of massage in New Zealand. Both levels are defined by agreed minimum hours and competencies.
Massage therapists in Mexico combine massage using oils or lotions, the therapists are called ”sob adores” and they are used to relieve digestive problems as well as back and knee pain. Many of these therapists work from the back of a truck and in many parts of Mexico prostitutes are allowed to sell sexual massage. This business is often confined to a specific area of Mexico such as zonte norte.
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When you give a massage treatment to a client appropriate care for that client involves considering all their needs relating to the massage. Client care involves practical steps you take to care for the client’s well- being before, during and after the treatment. A clean and calm atmosphere will help the client to feel more comfortable and relaxed, and to also focus on the person getting a massage throughout the whole treatment.
A client’s privacy and modesty must be respected at all times during and after the treatment. You need to only expose the body part that gets treated one by one. Clients need privacy in which to undress, also any notes made during and after the treatment must be locked up securely afterwards. A consultation must be done where no body else can hear it.
During a treatment anything the client says must be regarded and should not be discussed outside the treatment room or to any other therapist. If advice is needed from another therapist to progress clients needs then it should be understood from the other therapist that it maintains the confidentiality other than that the clients permission is needed to do so.
Health and safety
The health and safety laws are designed to protect the therapist and their clients and penalties for contravening these laws can be severe, therefore it is highly important that the therapist highlights their responsibilities and their rights.
The health and safety at work act 1974 covers all aspects of health, safety and welfare at work. It indentifies the responsibilities of the employers and employees. Employers are responsible for the health and safety to anyone who comes into their premises. They must provide a safe environment and personal protection. They must take reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of themselves, colleagues and clients.
Cite study; Massage eases Anxiety
Karen J.Sherman, a senior investigator at the group health research institute (2010) states that on average three months after receiving ten massage treatments, patients had half the symptoms for anxiety. Massage therapy is among the most popular complimentary and alternative medical treatment for anxiety.
A trial began to asses how effective massage is for patients with an anxiety disorder. The trial was assigned 68 group health patients with a disorder to sessions in a pleasant and relaxing environment. Massage therapist’s delivered their treatments of massage or one of two control treatments. The massage treatments were designed to enhance the function of the nervous system and to relieve symptoms of anxiety including muscle tension. The control groups were relaxation and thermotherapy. Anxiety disorder can be treated also through medicine therapy which is medical and cost effective.
The benefits of massage may be due to a general relaxation response. The massage therapy reduces stress hormones and adrenaline and increases the relaxation of alpha brain waves and also reduces anxiety levels where as the negative effect is that massage is to be no more effective than simple relaxation with soothing music.
The outcomes of this study is that Massage easing anxiety is trying to prove that it isn’t just a massage that can help with anxiety; there are other ways of helping such as sitting in a calm environment listening to soothing music. It shows that massages decreases the symptoms of anxiety and can also be less expensive.
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