Massage is the systematic manipulation of the body for the purposes of relaxation, or therapy. Different cultures tend to have developed specific forms of massage according to the bodily needs. From the gentle Swedish massage to the stronger ones like “Ayurvedic Massage”; the healing purpose of massage cannot be denied. Despite the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) listing massage as a form of alternative medicine, recently it seems to have found an increase in popularity and increasingly used in therapeutic protocols. Most of the regions in the world regard massage as a form of mainstream treatment and that same sentiment seem to have been carried into western societies as well.
Certain known and popular forms of massage include: 1) Swedish massage, 2) Thai massage, 3) Shiatsu, 4) Sports massage, 5) Hot stone massage, 6) Acupressure, 7) Ayurvedic massage, 8) Chiropractic. Techniques like effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), friction, percussion (chopping, cupping, and raindrops), vibration (shaking), myofascial release are similar in different cultures and indeed they do provide specific kind of benefits to the body. Different massage techniques, one beneficiary – the body.
Massage can either be dry or can be performed with the use of lubricants. The choice depends on the sort of effects a user wants. The lubricants may be lotions, oils, ghee (clarified butter), sports creams or even powders. Using oils has been classically described in the textbooks of Ayurveda, the use of oil depends on the body type. Vata people should use more heavy yet warming type of oil – like sesame oil, pitta people should use more cooling oils like coconut oil or even ghee and Kapha people could do well with a dry massage or if they have to use the oil they can use heating yet light oil like corn oil.
Combining the techniques from various cultures may promote added benefits of massages. To give an example, the massage techniques (abhyanga) haven’t been clearly defined or delineated in the classical textbooks of Ayurveda but have been described elsewhere. Reciprocally, the type of oil to use hasn’t been clearly delineated in many massaging cultures, but combining the two would only benefit the human soul.
The scientific community is ravished by the fact that massage works such well in spectra of conditions. What it doesn’t know is labeled as placebo – a difficulty to differentiate between physiological and psychological effects. Scientific studies point out that massage causes an increase in the release of endorphin – a neurotransmitter that binds to opiate receptors in the body. This, in turn, provides quick relief from pain. The body’s own “painkiller” helps to cure pain. This effect is potentiated by massaging.
The effect of massage depends on type, pressure and the speed of the stroke. To invigorate faster and deeper stroke is applied, while to promote relaxation lighter slower stroking is used. Ayurvedic Massage and other types of massage also promotes blood flow (rid tissue of cellular wastes) and lymphatic backflow. Massage works to reduce pain by interrupting muscle spasm and reducing edema. The muscle goes through a cycle of pain-spasm- pain. Massage in-turn helps to break this cycle and promote healing. Techniques like deep effleurage, circular friction helps to release tightened hamstrings. Petrissage acts to reduce neuromuscular excitability, but the effect is local.
Now, some people might find this time consuming or messy. However, the benefits far exceed these disadvantages. Certain people are contraindicated for massages. Those with acute sprains and strains – Ayurvedic massage and all other massage may cause an increase in inflammatory response or sometimes even extra bones to form in your muscles (myositis ossificans). Certain skin related lesions may spread over to the receiver or to the massage therapist. Sites with fractures may fail to heal. People with hypersensitiveness to touch, history of swollen legs (edema), hypertension, stroke, or heart diseases should avoid massages.
There is something healing about the conscious laying of hands. Not only is this relaxing but also deeply soothing, ailing, aiding, culminating to something that treats. It is easy to administer, individuals, families, and friends can be asked to administer it depending on the persons’ needs although individuals with extensive background do provide a lot more therapeutic benefit.