Massage therapy finds its references in books dating thousands of years back from China, Japan, India, and Egypt (1).
Various methods are incorporated in Massage therapy. It involves rubbing, pressing, manipulating the muscles and the soft tissues of the body by the therapist. Depending on the area involved the therapist uses their hands, feet, elbow, fingers or forearm (2).
There are many types of massage and depending on the ailments; the one that suits the best should be administered. The Swedish massage incorporates long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration, and tapping. In athletes sports massage is preferred which bears similarity with the Swedish massage. Other forms of massage are deep tissue massage and trigger point massage, which gives importance to the myofascial trigger points- that are tender spots which pressed can cause symptoms anywhere in the body(3)
Benefits of massage therapy-
Research conducted at Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle, the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and the University of Vermont in Burlington established that there was a significant rapid reduction in pain and substantial improvement in function following massage therapy in patients with chronic low back pain. The exact reason as to how massage helps in relieving pain is uncertain, however it can be theorized that the benefits could occur because of localized effects on the painful area or from non-specific effects such as a relaxing ambience, soothing touch, improving blood circulation or increased body awareness. Whatever reason may be, a systematic soothing massage can be an effective adjunct in treating chronic low-back pain (4).
For knee osteoarthritis- it is obligatory that only after a correct diagnosis the massage therapy should be initiated. The researchers noted there is a significant reduction in the pain, with improvement in function, and range of motion as compared with participants who were exposed to the usual care program. Pain intensity was noticeably reduced when massage therapy was given for 60-minute, once-per-week (5).
As massage provides a relaxing experience and elevates mood, it often helps patients who are suffering from anxiety and depression and for similar reason massage to the back and leg can also act as a soothing agent in females who are in labor (1)
Massage therapy can be with incorporated using aroma oil and can offer relief in patients suffering from migraine headache, depression and act as a stress booster.
Massage therapy acts as an adjuvant line of treatment and reduces spasms and muscle cramps. Hence helps athletes when tired with overused muscles. It release endorphins which helps in reducing the pain (6).
Most of the diseases with a psychosomatic factor have been linked to mental stress as a predisposing factor. Massage when practised by a certified masseur can help manage stress by reducing fatigue, inducing peaceful sleep, improving concentration by the effect of mental relaxation (5).
Risks of massage therapy are negligible when performed by a trained therapist. However certain precautions should be administered
- Vigorous massage should not be given to persons with bleeding disorders .
- Massage should not be carried out in place where there is open wound, tumor, immediately post operative or in place where there is evidence of any skin infection or lesion where the skin is very sensitive (6).
- Pregnant females need to have a prior clearance by their obstetrician before massage therapy.