Massage is a general term for applying pressure, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia to enhance a person’s health and well-being. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure. People seek massage therapy for a variety of reasons – to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles, rehabilitate injuries, improve function, reduce pain and tension (especially during pregnancy), and promote overall health and wellness.
Massage has dated back to ancient civilisations including China, India, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Rome, Greece, and Mesopotamia. Massage is perhaps one of the oldest forms of healing therapy practiced on the human body. The roots of modern, scientific massage therapy go back to Per Henrik Ling (1776–1839), a Swede, who developed an integrated system consisting of massage and active and passive exercises. These techniques affect the muscular, skeletal, circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body. The basic philosophy of massage therapy embraces the concept of vis Medicatrix naturae, which is aiding the ability of the body to heal itself, and is aimed at achieving or increasing health and well-being.
In practice, many massage therapists use more than one technique or method in their work and sometimes combine several. Effective massage therapists ascertain each person's needs and then use the techniques that will meet those needs best. Massage techniques have stemmed from an observation, curiosity and study of the human body.
There are many different types of massage, including these common types:
Relaxation Massage - This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, and pressure to help elongate muscles and relax the entire body.
Deep Tissue Massage - This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries in specific areas of the body. Using deep muscle compression and friction along the grain of the muscle. Assists the body to free congestion of the fibers of the muscles, release toxins and deep tensions, and improve blood flow and oxygen delivery.
Sports Massage - Helpful for people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries. The type of massage technique or treatment applied is dependent on the nature of the stage of training or competition, sports injury or condition. It includes preparation prior to competition both physically and psychologically and subsequent recovery from training and competition of amateur and elite level athletes. Can also be helpful to rehabilitate repetitive strain injuries (RSI).
Remedial Massage - The treatment and rehabilitation of the signs, symptoms and causes of bio-mechanical dysfunction or injury, using specific more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, stretches, mobilization techniques, and trigger point release that focuses on specific areas of tight muscle fibers in order to restore normal form and function.
There are many other types (modalities) of massage that include vibration therapy, lymphatic drainage, myotherapy, reflexology, Thai, Swedish, Shiatsu, etc.
All styles of massage have incredible benefits. The most important thing is to find a therapist that you respect and trust.