Massage is the most fundamental of all healing techniques. Massage is so basic to nature that we do it automatically. Let me explain.
- You are walking across a room, and you accidentally bump your elbow on the edge of a table. Pain shoots up your arm. Instantaneously you grab your elbow and without thinking, you begin to rub it. This is massage.
- As I write this article my seven-month-old daughter is sitting on my knee. When it is time for her nap, I hold her on my shoulder and gently rub her back until she falls asleep. This is massage.
- My wife gives me a hug when I enter the house after a long day at work. I find myself caressing her shoulders and back. This is massage.
The point is that massage is the most naturally healing thing you can do. The nurturing touch is simple, instinctual, and more powerful than we can imagine. Some of the many studies on touch show conclusively that it reduces stress, alleviates depression, reduces pain, boosts the immune system, and helps pre-mature babies catch up in their development. Without touch we close down. With touch we love, communicate, and nurture one another. So massage is not just a profession for a special few; it is part of the healing touch we all possess.
Because massage is naturally healing, its therapeutic use dates back as far as mankind. Ancient Greek, Roman, and Oriental medical treatises describe in detail how and when massage should be used. In the Western world it fell out of favor in the Middle Ages as the church regarded the body as sinful. But, by the 1800′s, a new interest in massage was started in Sweden, and today there are many popular modalities of therapeutic massage and bodywork.
Massage professionals have spent years observing the benefits of using certain strokes and have developed systematic techniques to relieve the pain and stress of mankind. There are literally dozens of these therapies, each with their own association dedicated to supporting its members and promoting the benefits of their work.