When a practice has been around for thousands of years, it must have something going for it. That’s certainly the case with massage therapy, whose origins date back at least 5,000 years. The earliest written records of massage therapy were discovered in China and Egypt. Records found in India don’t go back quite as far; they were written “only” 2,500 to 3,500 years ago. These discoveries show that massage therapy is not only ancient, but that it was relatively widespread in the ancient world!
Not surprisingly, massages began as a form of natural healing. Early civilizations found that massages could help heal injuries, relieve pain, and prevent or cure illnesses. When you add stress reduction and relaxation to this list, you see that recognition of the benefits of massage has been consistent over time and has even grown.
In the West, the popularity and practice of massage therapy diminished for a period of time, partly as a result of the development of other medical practices, and partly because it came, for a time, to be seen as an indulgence of the wealthy. However, its popularity has blossomed in recent times. Today, it’s possible to identify around 80 different styles of massage therapy, with a wide range of pressures, movements, and techniques. The styles all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles or other soft tissue, primarily with fingers and hands, but also, in some styles, with elbows, forearms or feet.
Of course, the practice of massage therapy has spread and grown and endured through the ages because its benefits were widely recognized. So, what are some of those benefits? Following are several of the most recognized:
- Massage can be a drug-free way to ease back pain. Studies have shown that massage therapy can be effective is easing chronic back pain and can significantly reduce the need for painkillers.
- Massage therapy can ease anxiety and relieve depression by lowering levels of cortisol by up to 50%. Massage therapy increases levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression. You really do feel better after a massage!
- Studies have shown that massage therapy has lowered the blood pressure of women with hypertension, with the effects lasting up to 72 hours.
- Massages can reduce or end exercise soreness. Following up your exercise session with a massage of just ten minutes can result in a reduction in soreness intensity.
- Back aches often effects a person’s ability to sleep soundly. Regular massage sessions that reduce back pain also can lead to better, more restful sleep.
- Headaches are another type of pain that can respond to massage therapy. Studies have shown that massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person experiences.
- By helping to reduce pain, swelling, and fatigue, massage therapy can be used as a complement to traditional medicine in reducing side effects of cancer treatment.
As a general summary of massage benefits, it seems safe to say that massage therapy can improve the quality of your life. As the American Massage Therapy Association might say, “Massage is good medicine!” And at The Henderson, we offer a wide variety of massage treatments to enhance your stay with us! Call our Salamander Spa at 855.695.9424 to book your appointment and experience the power of touch.