Massage Therapy

For thousands of years, healers have known that there are a range of health benefits to massage. While massage was used in Asian, Indian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman medical practice, it didn’t gain much traction with Europeans until the Renaissance, and in America until the 1850s. Two American doctors who had traveled to Sweden and learned massage, introduced it as a medical therapy in the United States. However, during the technology focused 1940s and 1950s, massage fell out of favor, and didn’t regain popularity in the US until the 1970s, when there was a greater consumer focus on healing via natural methods. As of 2007, over 18 million adults a year are treated with massage therapy.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is the treatment by manual manipulation of the body’s muscles, connective tissues, tendons and ligaments. The masseuse, who is a trained professional, selects the massage therapy modality (or treatment type) to address the patient’s complaints, normally in consultation with the patient. Different objects or parts of the massage therapist’s body, like hands and elbows, will be used to press into the soft tissues of the patient’s body in a tested manner, to release toxins and increase blood flow. There are many different ways to work with a massage therapist. Visiting a therapist’s office may be the easiest way, since most massage therapists work hard to provide a relaxing and soothing environment for their clients.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy

Because the body’s complex soft tissue systems undergo strain for different reasons there are different massage therapy approaches, with their own benefits. In general, massage therapy can be used to relieve pain and tension, speed recovery from sports injuries, increase relaxation, reduce anxiety and depression, and as a general wellness technique. In 2007, the American Pain Society and American College of Physicians released guidelines recommending massage to for lower back pain patients who did not respond to conventional therapies.

How Does Massage Therapy Work?

In traditional massage (not chair massage, or scalp massage, for example), the patient will be escorted to a private room for a consultation with the therapist. Discussion of any symptoms, pain areas, medical history, and any concerns about the process are answered, and the patient is left to change into loose fitting clothing or nothing at all.


The patient will lie down on a massage table, covering up with a sheet that shields all the body except the part being massaged. Massage therapy sessions can last a long time or a short time, with the most common increments being 30 and 60 minutes. The therapist will normally use oil, dry oil, or lotion to keep the patient’s skin from suffering and provide low friction. The level of pressure the therapist uses should be consistent with the patient’s pain tolerance.

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