What is massage therapy?

by Jean-Félix Perreault | July 12, 2020

What is massage therapy?
Etymologically speaking, massage therapy means "healing massage". This ancestral therapeutic technique, which has existed for thousands of years, was already used by our ancestors in many other cultures and civilizations and brings together a wide variety of manual techniques. Despite the differences in philosophy and types of manipulation, these techniques have several things in common. Thus, the main objectives of massage therapy are to promote relaxation (muscle and nerve), blood and lymphatic circulation, assimilation and digestion of food, the development of toxins, the proper functioning of vital organs and the awakening of a bodily consciousness.

As we know it today, massage therapy has simply been perfected, refined and modernized so that touch becomes a more structured approach. Finally, the opinion of specialists in this therapeutic technique.

The benefits of massage therapy
Massage therapy is suitable for most people, from toddlers to the elderly. Its effects, which can be soothing or energizing, could decrease nervous excitability, relieve conditions triggered by stress (including back pain, migraine, exhaustion and insomnia), stimulated blood and lymphatic circulation and caused a general state of well-being. It also has other therapeutic applications which we will describe below.

Massage therapy after pregnancy
Massage therapy is widely used in pregnancy, since it reduces the risk of injury to the perineum during childbirth as well as postpartum discomfort and discomfort, rebalances the body, reduces tension muscular, wish the woman to regain her body gently, and also to relax and tone the parts that have been stressed and tired by the overload.

From a psychological point of view, massage therapy promotes better moral recovery, and prevents baby blues symptoms, but also reduces stress and fatigue thanks to its relaxing effects.

Massage therapy to relax
The beneficial effects of massage therapy on anxiety have been observed in numerous studies: its relaxing properties, massage therapy, makes it possible to better manage anxiety-provoking situations and events in everyday life.

Relieve lower back and muscle pain
Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of massage therapy in the treatment of acute or chronic nonspecific low back pain, particularly when massage is performed by accredited therapists and combined with exercise and education programs.

Massage therapy helps relieve lower back pain thanks to requirements in the pelvis, legs and lumbar region, which will generate a feeling of well-being and muscle relaxation.

Sometimes back problems are caused by problematic abdominal muscles, in these cases massages in the abdomen can be beneficial.

The different types of massage
Massage therapy is done mainly with the fingers and hands, but also with the feet, elbows and even the knees. Depending on the technique used, the maneuvers can be applied to the whole body or to a single part. We can focus mainly on the skin and muscles or go deeper into the tendons, ligaments and fascia or even target specific points located along the acupuncture meridians. Although we can easily list more than 100 different massage and bodywork techniques, 1 we can group them into 5 main categories.

The European tradition of massage physiotherapy, based on the principles of Western anatomy and physiology and the manipulation of soft tissues, including Swedish massage, is the classic method.
The modern North American tradition, also based on the principles of Western anatomy and physiology, but which incorporates a psycho-corporeal dimension to traditional concepts. These include Californian massage, Esalen massage, Neo-Reichian massage and neuromuscular massage.
Postural techniques, aimed at reshaping the body structure through a re-education of posture and movement, such as postural integration, Rolfing, Trager and Hellerwork. Although they share certain points in common with these techniques, somatic education approaches, such as the Feldenkrais method and the Alexander technique, are not considered as forms of massage therapy.
Oriental techniques, based among others on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, such as Tui na massage, acupressure, shiatsu, reflexology and Jin Shin Do.
Energy therapies, inspired by ancient healing practices using the laying on of hands, such as therapeutic touch, Reiki, and polarity.

by Jean-Félix Perreault

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