Massage therapy is the scientific manipulation of the soft tissues of the body including muscles, connective tissues, tendons, ligaments and joints using the hand. It is an ancient therapeutic method of healing and normalizing body tissues. Reference to massage dates back to the writings of Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Egyptians. Although massage is an independent form of therapy, it has given rise to the modern day physical therapist and chiropractors. The various types of massage include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, sports massage, neuromuscular massage and acupressure massage or shiatsu. The major reasons for recommending massage therapy can be summarized below:
- Improving blood circulation and movement of lymph and enhancing effective functioning of the immune system.
- Relieving points of tension and overall stress; inducing relaxation
- Reducing tension and stiffness in muscles and joints
- Reducing both physical and emotional stress
- Promoting deeper and easier breathing, thus benefitting asthma patients
While there are various techniques used in massage therapy, common among them are:
- Longitudinal gliding: This is a basic massage technique usually administered in the direction of blood flow. It helps reduce inflammation and swelling by assisting fluid dispersion from the site of injury.
- Myofascial release: this is a manual technique of stretching the fascia with the aim of balancing the body. Fascia is located between the skin and the underlying structure of muscle and bone. Stress, trauma and bad postures are among the major cause of restriction to fascia.
- Tigger point therapy: Tiger points are areas of the body that experience muscular hyperactivity. In tiger point therapy, pressures are applied to tender muscle tissues to relieve pain and dysfunction present in other parts of the body.
- Rhythmic compression: This is commonly used in sport and involves creating deep hyperaemia and softening effect in the tissues.