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Massage Therapy Basics

Massage therapy has become one of the most popular and sought-after forms of alternative medicine. Massage therapists are training and becoming certified in record numbers every year, such is the demand for qualified practitioners. Even as massage therapists and the work they do becomes more widespread, there are still a number of misconceptions about this valuable form of healing and what exactly it can do. Who are massage therapists and what kind of work do they really do?

Massage therapy has become one of the most popular and sought-after forms of alternative medicine. Massage therapists are training and becoming certified in record numbers every year, such is the demand for qualified practitioners. Even as massage therapists and the work they do becomes more widespread, there are still a number of misconceptions about this valuable form of healing and what exactly it can do. Who are massage therapists and what kind of work do they really do?

A Brief History of Massage Therapy

The human touch is a foundational part of many healing traditions; the comfort and support offered by the presence of another person during times of illness is well known. In a sense, massage therapists base their practice on this basic principle: That therapeutically touching the human body supports health and healing.

Applied massage techniques are attested to in the gladiatorial arenas of ancient Rome. Gladiators and other athletes received a form of sports massage to keep their muscles supple, relaxed, and ready for the next round of competition. In fact, every ancient culture with an athletic tradition had, or is believed to have had, a tradition of massage created especially for the care of athletes’ bodies.

There are unfortunately a lot of unanswered questions with regards to the history of massage therapy; while historical precedent exists for the practice of massage performed with healing intentions, specific references to such a practice are often made only in passing. Regardless, medical historians agree that therapeutic forms of massage have been practiced throughout the world over many thousands of years.

Massage Therapy Today

Modern massage therapy came about thanks to twentieth century research done into the body and its kinetic systems (systems controlling movement and mobility). Work done by early pain researchers, physical therapists, and rehabilitation specialists all helped provide the scientific and medical foundation upon with modern massage therapy has been built.

Some Types of Therapeutic Massage

Today, professional massage therapists may work in several modalities or just a few. Swedish massage is one of the most well-known of all massage therapies and is sometimes referred to as an “all-purpose” massage that stimulates the flow of blood and promotes relaxation. A massage therapist preforming a Swedish massage may move quickly or slowly, with a gentle touch or deep one.

A deep tissue massage is a form of therapy targeted at deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue; due to the intense nature of a deep tissue massage, it is not usually preformed on the entire body. Rather, deep tissue massage techniques are directed at sites on the body that need more intense therapeutic attention.

Shiatsu is another well-known type of massage therapy. This tradition was developed in Japan and makes use of finger pressure applied gently to a variety of points on the body, points believed to be associated with energy meridians. People who receive a shiatsu treatment for the first time are often surprised at how relaxing and pleasant the experience is.

Training as a professional massage therapist requires years of dedicated training in body work theory and technique, human anatomy and physiology, and many other related subjects. Each form of massage therapy requires a focused study in order to gain full understanding of that form. Professional massage therapists have to qualify for licensure through tests, internships, and clinic hours. When you visit a massage therapist,

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