The art of massage is probably older than our species. Evidence of it has been discovered in all of the ancient civilizations and it continues to enjoy popularity to this day. Different types of massage are designed to specifically address certain problems, but in general, massage is used to promote relaxation, counteract stress, improve wellbeing and to treat muscular problems which may be a result of injury or certain conditions.
Neck pain and pain across both the upper and lower back are extremely common complaints, especially as we get older. Many of us spend our working lives in unnatural or uncomfortable positions – warehouse workers are often asked to carry heavy loads around all day, lab workers spend their time hunched over a microscope, bus drivers spend the day sitting down and countless millions spend their lives trying to find a way to get comfortable in front of a computer screen. Even schoolkids are at risk, from having to carry backpacks full of heavy textbooks from one class to another, every day.
Massage is commonly used to relieve back and neck pain, and increase a person’s range of motion, by releasing knots in the muscles associated with the affected areas and promoting relaxation. While massage is used as an effective treatment, it is ultimately essential to address the cause of such pain and tension, it is essential that the root cause of the problem is address in order to avoid constant recurrences.
Massage is also used to help release endorphins, which act as a natural mood enhancer and painkiller; to relieve the pain of migraines by releasing tension. In sports practitioners, massage is commonly used to prevent injuries by softening overused muscles. It has also been shown to improve circulation, which is of benefit to everyone, not only sportspeople.
Massage is also thought to be a useful weapon against conditions related to anxiety and depression. Anxiety is particularly associated with unreleased tension – many anxious people are unaware of just how tense their bodies often are – from their brow and jaw, right down to their toes, muscles are often unnecessarily tightened. By helping to relieve this tension, anxiety levels can be reduced in a person. The treatment can also be beneficial in terms of improving a person’s quality of sleep, energy levels and concentration.
There are also numerous effects of massage which are specifically related to certain conditions. For example, the appropriate massage treatment for sufferers of arthritis, usually results in reduced stiffness and pain for the sufferer. Similarly, asthmatics report improved peak air flow as a result of relaxing their chest muscles. Furthermore, those who suffer from hypertension usually record lower diastolic blood pressure following a massage.
There was a time when massage therapy was associated with well-off people with lots of money and time on their hands. In those days, if you wanted a massage, it was more than likely that you would need to go to an up-scale health spa or gym. Thankfully, the days of massage elitism are over. The therapy is now provided in salons, clinics, hospitals, forward-thinking businesses and even airports these days. In fact, many places that have a waiting room have at least one massage chair which can be used to help clients relax. These are much-appreciated in dentists’ waiting rooms.
For those who want to stay at home and don’t like to be disturbed by having to deal with an out-call service, it is often a good idea to get one of these chairs for home usage. Rather than simply buying the first one you see, or the cheapest model – remember that a massage is a profoundly personal interaction, and therefore choosing your massage chair should be a personal choice based on what your needs are as an individual. Read up as much as you can at places like http://www.shiatsuchairs.net/, before trying out the chairs for yourself.
If you’ve lived your life oblivious to the benefits of massage – perhaps you are not the most tactile or responsive person – it is likely that your body is suffering as a result. Do you sometimes get unexplained aches and pains or feel fatigued? If so, it’s about time you gave massage a chance.