Massage induces a sense of well-being and relaxation by stimulating nerve endings in the skin that trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural ‘feel good’ chemicals known as opiates and at the same time inhibiting stress hormones that cause us to suffer so much dis-balance. It also has its stronger more physical aspects which stimulates the lymphatic system which carries away waste products that can cause pain and stiffness in muscles and joints and also acts on our circulation to supply more oxygen and nutrients to improve skin tone and tissues.
Stressed people can be reminded by massage what physical and mental relaxation feels like. It is recommended for relieving anxiety and pain, for stress-related conditions such as headaches, insomnia and muscle and joint disorders such as back pain and arthritis, digestive disorders such as constipation and irritable bowel syndrome and high blood pressure.
Massage’s soothing effects have encouraged its use in National Health Services across the world, hospices and private hospitals, and far from being considered self-indulgent, it is increasingly being taken seriously, and for those who are sick and infirm, particularly amongst the elderly, cancer and AIDS patients and those recovering from stroke and heart attacks, it is increasingly being used as an invaluable tool.
So far, more and more people are turning to massage as an ancient and yet very modern way to improve the quality if our lives. Trials at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London, with cancer patients, showed massage could reduce their anxiety and improve their quality of life.
At the University of Miami, Florida, researchers at the Touch Research Institute have found that massage can relieve back and muscle pain, lower high blood pressure, ease PMS symptoms, reduce anxiety and depression, re-invigorate office workers, and increase levels of the natural killer cells that boost the immune system and help us fight and even stop us from catching viruses and colds and those different kinds of flus that are constantly making the headlines these days.
So, there is already a lot of research into message that has proven its beneficial effects. But there are many kinds of massage systems in the world. They fall in to two major categories; the main difference between the two can be shown by the Swedish and Traditional Chinese Medicine massage systems. Firstly there are different rubbing, stroking and pressing techniques, and also the Chinese sometimes use greater pressure too – but this all basically stimulates the blood flow of the body, increase lymphatic drainage, promotes the production of endorphins…etc.
The Western Swedish massage system uses Western Anatomy and Physiology as its source of knowledge…and a necessary understanding of Western medical principles and pathology, that they deem essential for any of their programme participants. Chinese massage and Tuina also uses knowledge of life energy… or Qi, that runs through channels known as meridians and also runs through those channels and connects to all the major organs and to all our sense organs. Chinese anatomy and physiology understands that the body works along different principles compared to the western understanding, and its usage is seen in the east as a much more powerful and therapeutic.