The power & benefits of touch have been recorded through history in various formats with evidence of its use dating as far back as the ancient cave dwellers – depicted in wall paintings & drawings of people massaging each other.
The Chinese Nei Jing, which is the oldest recorded medical text dating between c. 200 BC & AD 100, imparts numerous references to the use of massage or ‘somato’ for the purpose of healing. These techniques were adopted by Japanese practitioners around 1,500 years ago and have been used and developed through the centuries into the form – now known as Shiatsu.
It wasn’t, however, until the last century that Europe saw the rise in the popularity of massage and its relation to improving sporting performance become increasingly apparent. This notably can be attributed to runner Paavo Nurmi the ‘flying Finn’, who at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris won five gold medals. These included the 5K and 1.5K titles ran in the same day with only a 30-minute break between events.
Nurmi who took his personal massage therapist to the games, credited his success to a special massage treatment being an important component of his daily training programme.
In modern days, massage is widely accepted in the field of sport and is seen as an integral part of any training schedule for its importance to help the body adapt & recover from the growing physical demands placed upon it.
Massage works with the body by helping to promote physiological processes in order to support its natural balance. Its pumping effect improves circulation increasing the flow of fresh oxygenated & nutrient rich blood to organs and fatigued muscles whilst encouraging the removal of waste products and toxins such as lactic acid which if left can cause severe muscle soreness.
Tightness and tension in a muscle can be reduced by massage as it not only encourages the muscle to relax & lengthen but techniques applied are able to stretch specific localised areas thus increasing the range of movement available and decreasing the possibility of injury such as a muscle strain.
Following injury massage can be used to enhance the rate and quality of soft tissue healing by not only its circularity benefits as previously mentioned but also by serving to reduce the formation of scar tissue and break down adhesions that can be very restrictive to regaining normal movement and function.
Important health benefits can be attributed to the effects of massage as emotional stress caused by the pressures and trappings of modern day living have a negative sensory input on our nervous systems increasing physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, insomnia and digestive problems.
Massage works on a sensory level stimulating the mechano-receptors that respond to pressure, warmth and touch and so on, thus having a positive effect on the nervous system. This allows for the reduction in overall tension throughout the body which in turn helps to combat the negative physical symptoms returning the body to health.
Massage for all
The benefits derived through massage work on so many different levels that whether you’re a keen sports person wanting to improve recovery and performance, a business person looking to reduce stress and occupational aches and pains, or a busy housewife juggling numerous roles in need of rejuvenation; making massage therapy part of your regular wellbeing routine can make that positive difference you’ve been looking for!