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Many Americans suffer from emotional and psychological disorders brought on by the everyday challenges of life. Some common disorders which include anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic pain are brought on by prolonged stress. Pain and stress are not good or bad. They are the body's defense mechanism. A stressful situation, whether it is a long awaited promotion at work or death of a loved one, can cause multiple imbalances that, if prolonged, will result in disorders. Massage therapy does have a positive effect on the emotional and psychological state of a client. It can assist the body in proper healing when done professionally and therapeutically.
Massage therapy has been a respected form of medicine for more than 3,000 years. It was held in high value in ancient Chinese and Japanese cultures, then spread through Europe and became an adopted practice for many Greeks and Romans as a treatment for stiff muscles and some diseases. The value of massage declined over the centuries. As Western medicine became prominent, the value of massage therapy was reduced to pure luxury for the wealthy, with only temporary relaxation effects. This was the beginning of the quick fix era.
Today massage therapy is considered alternative to pharmaceuticals rather than vice versa. There are still many skeptics who minimize the benefits of massage to simply relaxation and view it as unnecessary. However, many others are beginning to realize the true potential of therapeutic massage. When done correctly and regularly, a client will come to realize minimized pain, mind clarity and more mobility.
Massage therapy is soft tissue manipulation for healing purposes. Massage promotes blood and lymph circulation, relaxes muscles, relieves pain and restores balance. This can be done through a variety of styles. While massage incorporates many different techniques, the three main modalities are Swedish, deep tissue and therapeutic. Swedish massage promotes circulation and relaxation using light touch. It is most commonly known and used, which is why people do not see any other therapeutic benefits. Deep tissue has more benefit, however it is not utilized or offered as often due to the extent of treatment. Therapeutic is the most effective because it incorporates all modalities to form a personalized treatment that is best for each individual's disorder.
It is important to listen to the warning signs provided by the body. The human body is an intricate and interrelated organism. Most stress begins on a subconscious level which is brought on when something stimulates a particular response in the body's organs or tissues. If the stimulus is consistent and unresolved, it will manifest itself on a conscious level as pain. Pain is the body's way of getting information across that there is an unresolved stressor. A stressor can be a positive or negative life experience. However, both can result in wear and tear on the body and, if not understood, can manifest emotional and psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
The body uses stress and pain as a warning that the mental, physical and spiritual being is out of alignment. The health of the body is tied to emotional and psychological health which manifests itself through discomfort and disorders. When dealt with in a proper, healthy way, balance and peace is restored. When ignored, the prolonged stress can lead to other disorders such as depression and anxiety, as well as chronic pain. This will continue until something causes it to stop. If prolonged, stress can manifest itself through other health complications such as anxiety, phobias and depression.
There are countless stressors that cause countless disorders. The most well-known ways to prevent disorders are to get enough sleep, drink plenty of water, eat a nutritionally balanced diet and exercise. However, for many people these ways are not enough. Massage therapy is one of the most effective treatments with the least amount of side effects. Regular massage treatments can be used to aid the body's natural healing process. These effects are easily observable.
When it comes to emotional disorders, massage therapy has the greatest effect on stress, anxiety and depression (Field 2011). Calming endorphins are released through purposeful touch and muscle manipulation. This causes stress levels to lower and promotes clear thinking which assists in a more positive self-image. The more treatments received regularly, the longer a person will be more able to cope with their stress.
Massage therapy promotes relaxation. This is the most agreed upon statement by professionals in the medical field. Many people suffer from insomnia. Insomnia inhibits the body's natural healing process and therefore the disorder remains and increases (Vitiello 2007). Pain tells the body to release hormones to fix the problem. When that doesn't happen the problem persists and increases. Insomnia is a viscous circle that deteriorates the body's defenses. This cycle can effectively assist the onset of other illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, ulcers or diabetes.
Studies show that massage relieves pain, decreases anxiety and provides psychological support. Anxiety levels rise when going through stressful situations and has a negative effect on moods thought processes and behaviors. With the appropriate amount of pressure, massage can calm anxiety by providing positive comfort and relaxation.
Fibromyalgia has quickly become another common disorder. It is a combination of anxiety, depression, chronic tension and pain, and insomnia. Studies have shown that all of these symptoms reduce significantly with regular massage therapy treatments. First sleep cycles improve and clients become more rested and less fatigued. This relieves muscle tension which aids in better rest and less fatigue. Reports show that further results include lower anxiety and depression levels.
Numerous studies have shown the immediate effects of massage therapy. Stress, anxiety, depression and pain have been proven to decrease after just one massage. This decrease will continue over a period of time. The length of time depends on the variable of issues. Essentially massage will have a lasting effect. However, because of the multiple variables involved, there is still much skepticism.
There are numerous variables that must be accounted for when studying the effects of massage therapy. Aside from the varying disorders and their severity, the massage practitioner and the client have a major influence on the outcome of the treatments. One massage practitioner can do the same techniques as another on the same client, yet have different results. Not every massage therapist has the same therapeutic motive or even believes that it really is effective. This presents a problem because that kind of therapist will not put their full potential into the purpose of healing and therefore it effects will be less noticeable.
Even worse is the client who is so skeptical they make sure massage is not effective. It becomes mind over matter where a person subconsciously refuses to relax and thereby sabotaging their own healing. Many of these clients have had bad experiences with massage. Some massage therapists use too much pressure and leave bruises.
Others have bad ethics and make the client uncomfortable. Others believe that mediation and surgery is the only way to heal, even though, after years of this kind of treatment, they still continue to complain about their disorders.
Most people are skeptical of massage because of the western medicine practitioners and pharmaceutical companies. People believe that medications will cure anything and no one has to be held accountable for their actions or lack of action when it comes to taking care of their body. It is quick and easy and is usually covered by insurance. Most insurance companies refuse to cover massage or other alternative medicine. People still feel that their doctors and insurances know best and that since alternatives are not covered and are rarely recommended, it is because they do not work.
This inference is false. Massage therapy is a process of holistic healing. It is a process that is meant to heal the whole body, not just an individual disorder. It is not like a pill that has one purpose. However, the healing process does begin immediately following one treatment. For many, it took a lifetime of wear and tear to get their body into the condition they have. Naturally, it will take more than one treatment to heal them.
Even though a client comes in for one reason, such as migraines, the healing process must include much more than a head massage. The whole upper body must be addressed to stop the pain cycle. After each treatment their migraines will become less and less frequent. Once that happens, the client will become aware of other issues they never realized they had because the migraines were so bad. One relieved disorder usually reveals another. This is a process that could take a few months or a few years, depending on all the variables between the clients and massage practitioner.
In conclusion, massage therapy does relieve stress, anxiety and many other emotional and psychological disorders. It is becoming a highly respected and recommended as an alternative to modern medicine. More and more people are becoming tired of seeing their doctors, who don't seem to really care about their health, and medications that have horrible side effects. There are numerous complaints about physicians not believing clients and telling them it's all in their head. On top of that, the doctor only spends 10 minutes with them after they have waited for over an hour.
Listening to a client is part of a massage therapist's training. Good listening skills are one of many variables in assisting the holistic healing process. Clients often discuss their issues, which were ignored by their doctors. The massage practitioner is able to listen and acknowledge the issues, helping the client realize they may not be crazy after all. This simple act can relieve an immense amount of tension which reduces anxiety and depression.
It is time for people to become proactive of their physical health and, just as important, emotional health and holistic well-being. Before turning to western medicine for pharmaceuticals that only mask the issues, massage therapy should be the first thing people try. If the medication is not a life or death drug, it would be worth changing to massage therapy as the main treatment and western medicine as the alternative. It is not always a quick fix but in the long run the results are more rewarding. Massage is much more than simply for relaxation purposes. When done properly, it is extremely therapeutic, attaining many positive results.
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Massage Therapy Essay
2454 Words10 Pages
An Introduction to Massage Therapy
In the past, massage therapy has carried the description of a luxury or even of a phony form of treatment, if a treatment at all. However, times change. More and more people believe in these types of alternative medicine than ever before. These new types of alternative medicine, including massage therapy, continue to change the medical field more and more. Many sports utilize it, including the Olympics. The general purpose of massage therapy includes the promotion of wellness and a general good, healthy feeling. This purpose is achieved through the many benefits massage therapy can provide on physical, mental and emotional levels.
History of Massage Therapy Around the…show more content…
It treats minor medical issues as well. However, a few of the main purposes of massage therapy involve relaxation and less muscle tension. Furthermore, the central idea behind massage therapy involves the desire of wellness and a general good, healthy feeling. The techniques used to achieve these goals can allow the body to heal faster. The massage increases circulation to the injured areas. Massage does possess many benefits, but it still remains an alternative medicine. Most importantly, massage therapy cannot replace medical treatment (http://www.statesman.usu.edu/story.Phtml?p=12-04-1996,2,6).
Benefits of Massage Therapy
Massage therapy benefits the body on physical, mental and emotional levels.
First, the physical level of the body benefits from the massage. The nervous system relaxes and stress levels decrease. Muscle spasms and tensions release, deeper breathing occurs, blood pressure reduces, the skin becomes nourished, and levels of lactic acid decrease. The immune system strengthens and diseases are prevented through massage therapy (http://www.maui.net/~gwr/spa/massage.html). Massage Therapy also increases the circulation of blood. If the muscles are too tense, circulation often slows, which decreases the amount of nutrients in the body and slows the excretion of toxins and wastes. This impaired circulation causes illness, a less rapid healing process, and problems involving the structure and function of