Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, spoke of the benefit of massage when he said, “The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” How often do you get a massage? Maybe once a month, once every six months, or yearly? Studies show that massage therapy can be used in the treatment of a variety of health conditions, but it is still considered a luxury in the United States. If you notice any time massage is portrayed on television, it is always done so in a setting where the stay-at-home mom has a much needed spa day with a massage and facial, or as the couple getting a massage together at their vacation spot in the Bahamas. Rarely is massage therapy shown in a medical, athletic, or rehabilitative setting. While it is true, massage is the perfect way to de-stress, there is so much more to this amazing trade than simple relaxation.
First, massage is one of, if not the oldest form of medicine on the planet. We know this because:
Sanskrit culture holds the earliest record of massage, around 5,000 years ago.
Chinese culture has combined massage with a number of other holistic treatments since the 16th-11thBC centuries.
The ancient Greeks, around 800-700BC, used athletic massage to aid those competing in the Olympic Games.
Ancient Roman society implemented massage to aid in healing their battle weary soldiers in the infamous Roman baths.
Second, the benefits of massage therapy play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy, happy lifestyle. It is these health benefits that have maintained the practice of massage by multiple societies for thousands of years. It is these known benefits that eventually brought massage to the United States in the mid-1800’s. Finally, these benefits are becoming more recognized by the medical field which, with time, will change our view of massage therapy from being a luxury experience to a necessary treatment. To this day, massage can:
Reduce fatigue 3-5 times more effectively than resting on its own.
Assist in managing chronic pain in a number of muscular, nervous, and skeletal conditions.
Improve aspects of healing in post treatment cancer care.
Improve athletic performance.
Reduce the risk of injury and aid in injury recovery.
Enhance the functionality of the immune system.
Aid in treating depression and anxiety.
Assist in labor and delivery in pregnant women.
Reduce muscular spasms and cramps.
This shortened list of benefits provides a small glimpse into how people worldwide can be positively affected by massage therapy. Although it still does not get the recognition it should, massage has made an impact in the US in the relatively short time it has been practiced. Doctors and other medical professionals are finally beginning to realize the value of therapeutic massage in maintaining one’s health. Have you had your massage today?