What is a massage, how can it help me?

  • Published
  • By Cyntavia Seney, BA, LMP
  • Heavenly Essence Massage and Wellness
Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems.

The benefits of massage are varied and far-reaching, and massage has returned once again as an accepted part of many physical rehabilitation programs. Massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression and more.

Massage is a "hands-on" therapy where muscles and other soft tissues of the body are manipulated to improve health and well-being. There are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques.

Varieties of massage range from gentle stroking and kneading of muscles and other soft tissues to deeper manual techniques. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body.

Massage has been practiced as a healing therapy for centuries in nearly every culture around the world. It helps relieve muscle tension, reduce stress, and evoke feelings of calmness. Although massage affects the body as a whole, it particularly influences the activity of the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems.

The services of a bodywork professional may be covered by health insurance when prescribed by a person's primary care physician, a chiropractor or an osteopath. Therapies provided as part of a prescribed treatment by a physician or registered physical therapist also are often covered.

When a practitioner massages soft tissue, electrical signals are transmitted both to the local area and throughout the body. These signals help heal damaged muscle, stimulate circulation, clear waste products via the lymphatic system, boost the activity of the immune system, reduce pain and tension, and induce a calming effect. Massage may also enhance a general sense of well-being by stimulating the release of endorphins and reducing levels of certain stress hormones.

At the first massage therapy session, the practitioner will ask about any symptoms a person may have - for example, low back pain -- and will also ask questions about the person's medical history. The practitioner may also initiate a discussion about what a person expects to achieve from the massage session.

The therapist will leave the room while the person undresses and lies down on the massage table. A sheet is draped over the person's body during the session and moved only to expose the part of the body being worked on at any given time.

Massage oil or lotion is often used to reduce friction between the practitioner's hands and the person's skin. The room is kept warm and free of distractions. The therapist may have soft music playing in the background and frequently asks whether he or she is applying too much or too little pressure.

The manner in which a practitioner massages a person's body depends on the problem being treated. A massage session can last from 15 to 90 minutes and may include a schedule of follow-up visits, depending on the severity of a person's situation.

Most people feel very relaxed when the massage is over. Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often experience increased energy, heightened awareness, and greater productivity which can last for days.

Since toxins are released from the soft tissues during a massage, it is recommended people drink plenty of water following a massage.

People who have questions about massages or would like to schedule an appointment, call Cyntavia Seny, Heavenly Essence, at 0170-846-7868, or Billie Pfeifle, also of Heavenly Essence, at 06562-92-5454. People can also stop by Heavenly Essence located at the fitness center.