Massage therapy is the practice of manipulating the soft tissues and muscles. Its goal is to provide the receiver with physical and psychological benefits. By manipulating the soft tissue and muscles with a series of orchestrated movements, massage is thought to result in relaxation and pain relief. Massage has been practiced in most cultures and since the beginning of recorded time.
The literal meaning of massage is friction of kneading. Kneading is one of the more famous movements. It is performed by making a side to side squeezing action. This is similar to the kneading action for making bread dough.
The use of massage can be found in the writings of many ancient civilizations. There are references in Chinese medical books and even references to massage in the Bible. There were references to the ancient Romans using it to treat some forms of illnesses.
Clearly, massage therapy has been used throughout the world to help restore health to the body. Many of these civilizations develop very distinct types of massage techniques. Each technique brings about slightly different benefits.
Some of the more famous techniques are Swedish massage, shiatsu, reflexology, acupressure and many more. Many of these techniques can now easily be found being offered in most spots around the world. They are also being integrated into massage chairs.
The practice of massage is about applying direct pressure to certain points in the body. When this is done correctly, it will bring relief to those areas. In scanning the techniques offered by massage therapy schools, there are approximately 200 variations of massage technique. These are constantly evolving and subject to interpretation by the therapist.
A new study was published in September 2004 that used a need for analysis of peer reviewed scientific journals using massage therapy and the adult population. The conclusion of the study is that massage therapy provides a wide range of physical and psychological benefits.
This study monitored the blood pressure, heart rate, negative mood, anxiety state and the immediate assessment of pain levels. The patients were given a single massage treatment once a week. According to the research, the average participant experienced a reduction and anxiety was greater than 64% over the control group.
The study also showed that it was effective in reducing blood pressure and heart rate. As results of this study, researchers theorize that massage may provide a benefit that parallels a model of psychotherapy. However, researchers do not believe that the benefits derived from massage are slowly psychological.
Another study conducted in May 2004 and published by the national Center for complementary and alternative medicine showed that massage was the ninth most popular form of alternative medicine. It also showed that 5% of the adult population used therapy at least once in the past 12 months. The popularity of massage treatments continues to rise.
So far, there have been very few studies the benefits of massage. The main problem with connecting clinical studies is the cost involved. Most companies have little incentive to fund massage therapy studies as there is no way to control the methods in order to profit. This is perhaps the biggest hurdle to getting thorough studies conducted. Unfortunately, most clinical studies are driven by the profit motive. These procedures need to be protected by intellectual property or there is little incentive to fund them.