Massage is one of the oldest forms of art with the human body and the benefits of it are often underestimated. The history of massage is one that stems from Asia, specifically in China and India. Many ask what exactly is massage therapy, as the term is used broadly in places such as spas to hospitals. It is the combination of human touch and moving of the muscles to create a relaxed state of mind. To learn it, you must learn its different definitions, practices and therapeutic effects known to practitioners throughout the history.
The foundation of massage, especially medical therapy is often credited to the Eastern Chinese medical practices of 2000 BC. However, can have many benefits that are not all medical massage benefits. For example, the human touch element that has little to do with how you learn and much to do with how personable the massage therapist is and the energy they bring into the room. Kneading muscles and skin, having a top of the line massage table warmer or using the perfect combination of towels and lighting is not effective if the client is not in a relaxed state of mind. The therapist, too, has to learn massage therapy in a way that is relaxing and creates positive energy for their patients. Remember, no matter which type of massage you practice, patients usually see you for help becoming more relaxed and in less pain.
Types of practice include back pain therapy, medical therapy, chronic massage therapy, stress relief therapy and other practices that are similar such as aroma therapy (massage techniques with scented oils), Reiki (foot massage) and other techniques. There is great debate on whether back pain therapy is really effective in the medical community. For example, a Pub Med article by the USA government department of health studied a group of chronic back pain therapy patients and found that it significantly approved their condition and made their back pain less intense. In fact, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario found that in order to learn massage therapy and effectively help these patients, it was necessary to learn it on back pain. Continuing education showed that, in this study, 92% of patients had improved function, less intense pain and decrease sharpness of pain when massage therapy was used.
Healing practices or occurred in the 2000 BC but continue to occur today. Most medical massage therapists treat back pain therapy, sports injury or other types of chronic pain. These therapists are often certified and learn therapy through different schools and educational programs. However, the longest program in the world is in British Columbia, Canada and is three years long to learn massage. While this seems like a long program, for any program, massage continuing education is an important part of any program. Healers in Eastern cultures are often priests, or spiritual leaders who practice medical therapy in their community. However, as researcher Paul Ingram of Vancouver, Canada, suggests, massage benefits tend to be “temporary and inconsistent” and can vary from patient to patient, massage therapy spa clinic to clinic and even from therapist to therapist.
Current trends extend past the history of massage and use historical techniques with modern medicine to establish practices that are well balanced between the two. In order to learn massage, therapists today should be open to a broad range of techniques, tools and purposes. While massage used to be a simple concept, new Western and Eastern combination of the history of massage therapy with today allows for diversity in techniques.