Massage Is One Of The Oldest Types Of Healing
So it’s no surprise really, when instinctively what we all do immediately when we feel like we’ve got tight muscles or knots is to try to massage them or rub them out ourselves.
But where did massage come from? Who invented massage? And what does massage do? Read on for the answers….
A Brief History Of Massage...
As for who invented massage officially, most sources cite China to be the first to practice massage, almost 4700 years ago. The first type of massage closely resembled what we know today as acupressure, where firm pressure is used to release certain areas of tightness.
In 2500 BCE, the Egyptians depicted massage being used as a form of healing, along with the development of Reflexology – firm massage to certain areas of the foot which correlate to distant body areas.
Massage was next thought to be practiced as part of Ayurvedic medicine (around 1500 BCE) by the ancient Hindus. Ayurvedic philosophy recognises the inter-connectedness of the mind, body and spirit, and that negativity or poor function of one part affects the others as well.
In 1000 BCE, the Japanese Buddhist monks studying in China were reportedly practicing the art of ‘Tuina’ – a type of massage still currently used by acupuncturists who apply Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Since then many different types of massage have been developed.
What Is Massage?
Massage is as a type of ‘touch therapy’ to reduce pain, heal injuries and encourage relaxation.
All types of massage involve some kind of manipulation of the muscles – stroking, stretching, kneading and use of pressure points. An experienced massage therapist will know what is right for you, and how much pressure to use to get the best result from your treatment.
How Does Massage Work?
Although massage is thought to be one of the oldest forms of easing soreness, the exact mechanism as to how it does this is still largely unknown.
What we do know, is that:
- Massage can break down fibrous adhesions (like scar tissue) between the tiny muscle fibers that make up the muscle itself;
- It can improve blood flow to the muscle so that it can start producing the energy it needs to relax;
- It helps important nutrients reach the muscle (again via increasing blood flow to the massaged area) which helps improve the overall health of the muscle;
- It increases suppleness and it enhances flexibility.
By massaging a muscle, we are also actively forcing out the old blood (and other fluid) which may have become sticky and static. This leaves space for it to re-imbibe with new blood again.
It has also been proven to help repair of muscle tears, by encouraging the muscle fibers to line up properly next to one another, rather than being laid down in a higgledy-piggledy manner (yes, that is the medical term – just joking!).
Is Massage Good For Back Pain?
Massage therapists do not diagnose problems with your musculoskeletal system. But if you have some kind of dysfunction, strain, sprain or general tightness, the muscles area always playing a role.
Your muscles do not act separately from your joints, ligaments and tendons – they’re all supposed to work together to keep you moving well and pain free!
We’re lucky at ThreeSixty because if you do have back pain, neck pain, headaches or shoulder soreness, then our masseuse – Amy – will let you know if you need to see one of the osteopathic team.
- We all work together to decide what is right for you – the patient. Amy can see your medical notes, and can liaise with your osteopath (if necessary) to discuss what areas of your body need massage the most.
- Amy is actually training to be an osteopath, so although she is not able to use this knowledge to diagnose your issues, she does have a much greater depth of understanding of the way your body works compared to other massage therapists.
Can Massage Help with Sciatica?
The Sciatic nerve is the biggest nerve in your body, and runs through many muscular tunnels as it provides sensation in the legs / hips and back.
If one of these muscular areas is squeezing the Sciatic nerve, then yes, massage may help relieve this tension and help your Sciatica feel better.
Sciatica is a tricky problem to deal with, and if this is you, we’d probably suggest you see one of the osteopathic team first to identify where exactly your pain is coming from. And if it is one of the muscles, then we’ll send you to Amy for massage anyway.
Is Massage Good For Neck Pain?
A lot of pain can come from poor posture of the upper back and neck, and if this is the case for you, then massage will absolutely help. Massage of some of the muscles around the upper neck can also help relieve headaches called tension headaches.
In these cases the muscles get so tired from holding you in poor posture, especially the head which is really heavy, they fatigue and start to produce pain sensations. Massage can help relieve this type of pain, as long as it is provided by a skilled therapist.
Are There Different Types Of Massage?
There are lots of different types of massage – so how do you know which type of massage is right for you?
Due to personal preference, which is different and unique, this is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. But read on to see if any of these sound like what you’re looking for.
Relaxation massage (or Swedish massage)
Relaxation / Swedish massage is the most common form of massage. It is gentle and relaxing, and involved lotion or oil being used to kneed, or stroke the muscles with circular motion to relax tight, sore muscles. This type of massage is used to relax, de-stress and soothe the superficial muscles and related connective tissue. It can be wonderful for anyone who wants a time out, to take care of themselves, and improve overall wellness and blood-flow. This is the type of massage where clients often fall asleep!
Deep Tissue massage (or Sports massage)
Deep Tissue / Sports massage is much firmed than Relaxation / Swedish massage, and works with the deeper muscle tissues. It is often firm and can be quite painful – usually a feeling of ‘good pain’ because you can feel it working on the tight bits! This is the type of massage used by sports people, or gym goers, who need their muscles to be soft and supple to prevent injury.
It might also be used to help people who suffer from chronic postural problems, like sitting at a desk all day, or who do repetitive daily activities. Working on the deep tissues is more painful, but gets longer lasting results than relaxing massage – the aim of the massage is totally different. Deep tissue massage is more therapeutic.
It can also be really helpful at reducing pain and tension from tight shoulders, neck or lower back pain and headaches.
Trigger Point massage
When muscles are really tight, they often have Trigger points in them – very tight ‘knots’ of muscle which are sore to press, and can even cause pain to radiate to other areas. Really common areas for trigger points to occur are around the shoulders, neck, and forearms. During trigger point massage, the therapist will put pressure on the trigger points and hold that pressure until the pain starts to reduce. This is also a very good type of therapy for people who are getting headaches from these trigger points, or who spend a long time driving or sitting at a desk all day.
Other types of massage include:
A gentle but a wonderful way for a mother’s changing body to adapt to the growing baby. Muscles and their coverings are getting stretched faster than they have ever been before, plus changes in weight and the pull of gravity, creates havoc in a pregnant woman’s body. With pregnancy massage, the skilled therapist uses gentle strokes and stretches to ease and soothe tight aching muscles.
Hot stone massage – (The name of this one gives it away!)
Hot stones and oil are used to massage the muscles of the body – but don’t worry – the stones are a tolerable temperature. This can be excellent for anyone who has had tight muscles for a long time. The stones are used predominantly instead of the massage therapist’s hands / fingers, in smooth, long strokes along the length of the muscle.
During Aromatherapy massage, the therapist will select a blend of essential oils to use while massaging your body. Extracted from flowers and other plant parts, essential oils smell great, and are believed to have healing properties. Again, this is a gentler type of massage, and the choice of selected essential oils is inhaled for additional.
NB – We do not currently offer Pregnancy, Hot Stone or Aromatherapy massage at ThreeSixty. But if you do need a treatment, please consider calling us to chat about who we can recommend in the local area – 09 427 9306.