The Healing Benefits of Massage
A Natural Approach to Healing:
From the beginning of time man and animal have used the power of nature to heal. Because we are multidimensional beings consisting of thoughts, emotions, physiological functions and spiritual needs we must consider how each aspect of our whole is affected. Not only must we feed our body, but we must also feed our brain and nurture our spirit.
This marvelous machine of ours was designed to heal and cleanse itself. However, daily exposure to chemical pollutants, preservatives in foods, smoking, alcohol, and other toxic chemicals take their toll on the body’s natural abilities to heal.
The bodies own eliminative processes naturally remove toxins through the colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph and skin. The body takes toxins and stores them in fatty deposits, which help to protect the system from imbalance. Unfortunately, because of the abundance of chemicals that we are exposed to each day, the body becomes overwhelmed and can’t eliminate these toxins quickly enough.
A healthy diet, exercise, stress reduction, and massage are just a few of the tools that can assist the body and provide a natural means for maintaining health and inner balance.
Exploring the History of one of Natures Tools:
Massage is a healing modality that dates back before written records. Often handed down through various cultures it has taken center stage in our present culture as both therapeutic and healing in its application.
Historical records indicate that various forms of massage were practiced by the Chinese and Japanese as early as (c.500 BCE). In India, Greece, early Rome, and Turkey each culture speaks of some sort of hands on manipulation for use in healing.
Though as diverse in its application as it is in the cultures that practice it, there is no doubt in the healing abilities of massage.
The Healing Benefits of Massage:
Some of the known benefits of massage include:
v Stress reduction
v Increased circulation
v Increased flexibility
v Increased range of motion
v Muscle relaxation
v Pain reduction
v Improved body alignment
v Reduced anxiety
v Improved mental clarity
Description of a Massage Session:
v A typical massage session should last anywhere from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.
v Prior to beginning a session the client fills out a health questionnaire which addresses any present or past health concerns that may need to be considered by the practitioner. All information that is contained in these questionnaires is
v Accommodations should allow for a private changing area to prepare for the massage. A sheet should be provided for the client to use as a cover up. The practitioner will normally advise the client to lie in the prone (face down) position and notify them when they are comfortably positioned and covered.
v The practitioner may assist in positioning the client appropriately on the table or in a seated chair when performing an upper body massage.
v Various lotions may be applied to the body along with essential oils in some instances.
v Depending on the type of massage the practitioner will perform various techniques depending on the area of concentration.
v The client may at any time during the massage ask the practitioner to focus on or avoid a specific area.
v A typical Western routine may consist of approximately 15 minutes focusing on the back and 10 minutes on the lower limbs. The practitioner may then ask the client to turn over onto their back. The time remaining may be broken down into 10 minutes on the lower limbs, 10 minutes on the arms and shoulders, 5 minutes on the abdomen, 5 minutes on the neck and shoulders, and 5 minutes on the face and head.
Who Can Benefit from Massage?
Besides being suited for the general public, massage also benefits those with special needs:
v Expecting mothers
v Terminally Ill and Dying
Contraindication, Cautions, and Warnings:
v It is the client’s responsibility to advise the practitioner of any injuries or illness which may affect the massage.
v The client should reveal to the practitioner any medications or supplements they are currently taking so that considerations may be made.
v At no time should the massage ever feel uncomfortable. If there are areas of sensitivity or pain the client should point this out to the practitioner immediately.
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines for a typical Western massage. Depending on the practitioner the routine may vary and may or may not include other techniques such as reflexology, trigger point therapy, or various Asian bodywork techniques.
Benjamin, P.J., & Tappan, F.M. (2005). Tappan’s handbook of healing massage techniques. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.