Touch is paramount to our health, and massage is an ancient form of healing through touch. When we get stressed it is only natural that muscles in the body tighten. This tension can impinge on the normal flow of blood and nerve impulses. The result may be aches and pains, and reduced nerve supply and nutrient flow to certain parts of the body.
In order to free the nerve and blood supply and to release the build-up of tension a massage therapist will work on the soft tissues (muscles, tendons) of the afflicted areas, most often the back, neck and shoulders. Pressure is adjusted to what is comfortable for the patient and what is needed to release tight muscles.
Depending on needs and wishes, a full body massage is given for relaxation, or more time may be spent on those body parts that harbour most of the tension.
Apart from loosening tight areas a positive effect of massage on the emotional state has been demonstrated. Most people experience a sense of general well-being, calmness and feeling cared for. With greater relaxation pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue and other troublesome feelings are likely to reduce.
Other health factors, such as improvement in circulation, lymph flow, mobility, and reduction in blood pressure and swelling may also occur. For many people receiving a massage is the only time they get touched, at least in a non-sexual way. It is for these reasons that massage plays an integral part in health care.
Updated: 17 December 2013