What is Massage Therapy?

What is Massage Therapy

Massage therapy has been used in many cultures around the world for a long time. Today, different types of massages are used for relief from a variety of health-related problems.

Massage is one of the ancient methods used in healing. There are Chinese records which date back 3,000 years recording the use and benefits of massage therapy. Applied forms of massage have also been used by the early Hindus, Egyptians and Persians for many health related problems. There are papers written by Hippocrates which promote the use of rubbing and friction for circulatory and joint problems. In the present day, the advantages of massage are many and extensive. It is an acknowledged part of various physical rehabilitation programs. Massage therapy is also very beneficial for various chronic conditions such as arthritis, bursitis, low back pain, fatigue, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility, immunity suppression, depression, smoking cessation and more. Massage also helps greatly in relieving stress and tension which every individual faces in his/her daily life and which leads to various ailments.

Massage therapy is commonly considered a part of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in United States; however, it does have some traditional uses. The scientific evidence on massage therapy is quite narrow. Experts don't know for sure about the changes occurring in the body during a massage and how they influence an individual's health. Studies are being done to find out the answer to these questions which are being sponsored by The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).

Massage therapy should be done by an experienced massage therapist. If it is done by an unqualified person or if done in the wrong manner, it can cause more harm than good. It has many benefits when done by a trained massage therapist.

Patients should always inform their health care providers if they are using any alternative and complementary practices along with details of their lifestyle and their health management. This helps in ensuring safe and coordinated care.

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage Therapy & Its History

As mentioned above, massage therapy dates back thousands of years. There are Chinese records which date back 3,000 years recording the use of massage therapy. Applied forms of massage has have been used by the early Hindus, Egyptians and Persians for many health related problems. There are papers written by Hippocrates which promote the use of rubbing and friction for circulatory and joint problems. There are many references to massage therapy in the writings from ancient Japan, China, Arabic nations, India, Greece, Egypt and Rome.

Massage became extensively used in Europe through the Renaissance period. Massage therapy was introduced in the United States in the 1850s by two American physicians, who did their studies in Sweden. It was accepted and promoted for many health purposes. However, the use of massage therapy declined in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s due to advancement in scientific and technological field in medical treatment. In the 1970s, interest was revived in massage therapy, particularly in athletes, as it was found to benefit in many sports injuries.

Role of Massage Therapist

Massage therapists work in different locations such as, nursing homes, hospitals, private offices, studios and sport & fitness centers. Few massage therapists also visit patients' homes or their workplaces. Their aim is to provide a soothing and calm atmosphere to relieve the stress and tension of the patient. Before starting the massage therapy, the therapist will ask questions to the new patients about their medical history, symptoms and expected results. They may also assess the patient's condition through touch in order to locate the tense or painful areas and to evaluate the degree of pressure to be applied.

The massage is usually done with the patient lying on a table and wearing loose-fitting clothing or undressed (except for the region to be massaged, patient is covered with a sheet). The massage therapist uses oil or lotion to avoid friction on the skin. In some cases, massage is done with the patient sitting in a chair. Depending on the condition, the massage session may be short or brief or can also last for an hour or even more.

Massage Therapy Training and Certification

There are around 1,500 massage training programs and massage therapy schools in the United States. Along with the hands-on training of massage techniques, students are also taught about the body and its function. Students also learn about ethics and business practices. Generally the massage training programs are approved by a state board. Few are also certified by an independent agency, such as the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA).

As of 2010, the District of Columbia and 43 states have laws standardizing the massage therapy. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork endorses therapists passing a national examination. More and more states which authorize licensed massage therapists necessitate them to have at least 500 hours of training at a certified institution, meet certain education requirements and pass a national exam and include malpractice insurance. Other than the massage therapists, different health care providers such as physical therapists and chiropractors can also train for massage therapy.

Some Of The Common Certifications Or Licenses For Massage Therapists Are:

  • LMP: Licensed Massage Practitioner
  • LMT: Licensed Massage Therapist
  • NCTMB: Has met all the credentialing requirements (including passing an exam) of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, for practicing therapeutic massage and bodywork.
  • CMT: Certified Massage Therapist
  • NCTM: Has met the credentialing requirements (including passing an exam) of the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, for practicing therapeutic massage

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Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: August 9, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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