Massage Therapy is just one persuasion from a wide array of other very effective and closely related persuasions such as Acupressure, Body Work, Manipulative Therapy, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Structural Integration, Alternative Medical Systems, Mind-Body Intervention, Biologically Based Therapy, Energy Therapy, Shiatsu, and Tui Na. And all these as a group come under the wide umbrella of alternative medicine and body-based methods. Massage Therapy is a procedure in which various methods are utilized to manipulate soft tissues of the subject’s body such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, connective tissues as well as the lymphatic vessels and organs of the gastrointestinal system.
The primary goal of Massage Therapy is to affect physical, psychological and functional curative changes by performing manipulative functions that involve moving or stationary pressure, structured or unstructured force to strategic points, vibration, stroking, kneading, and so on. On occasion, mechanical devices are used as tools of the trade, but for the most part, Massage Therapy is applied manually with the therapist’s hands, fingers, elbows, forearms and feet as the subject is fully clothed in a massage chair or partially to totally naked but covered with a towel on a massage table or on a mat on the floor.
Ancient scriptures have attested to the fact that massage therapy dates back into antiquity and it has been a fundamental practice in many different cultures such as the Roman, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Indian. Even Biblical writings from c. 493 BC speaks of daily massage with olive oil and myrrh being applied to the wives of Xerxes (Esther, 2:9-12) as part of their daily beauty routine. Hippocrates of Cos, a Greek physician of the fourth century BC who is also considered the “father of medicine” and after whose teachings the famous Hippocratic Oath was named, wrote that “The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.”
Advancing to more modern times, Massage Therapy gained its popularity in the United States when it was presented by two physicians from New York in the 1800s. Their techniques were an adaptation from the Per Henrik Ling Massage Therapy which was developed in Sweden. With the introduction of new and exciting innovations in medicine during the 1930s and 1940s, the popularity of Massage Therapy waned but was revived again by the athletic community in the 1960s and 1970s. Massage Therapy was provided as a central medical service for the first time in the United States during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.
Etymologically speaking, the word “massage” in English comes from a long line of derivatives as follows: the French word “massage” which means “the friction of kneading,” which comes from the Arabic word “massa” which means “to touch, feel or handle,” which comes from the Latin word “massa” which means “mass or dough.” The Greek word for “massage” is “anatripsis” and the Latin word is “firctio.” However, the oldest known origin of the English word “massage” comes from the Biblical Hebrew word “me-sakj” which means “to anoint with oil.”
What we refer to as Massage Therapy today has in the past been merely referred to as Massage. However, the “therapy” portion of the Massage Therapy came into being only when the illegal prostitution and sexual services in the United States began advertising themselves and their wares as “massage.” Wanting to distinguish itself, the legitimate massage became Massage Therapy while the illicit continued to be called massage.
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The oldest known Facial massage in human history dates back to the third century B.C. where it was written about in an ancient Chinese medical text. Scientists have discovered many subsequent ancient medical records in archeological digs conducted in Greece, Persia, Japan, and India. All these early-day writings have one thing in common; their Facial massages were described in vivid details but always as part and parcel of total body massage therapies in which specific pressure points on areas of the face and neck were depressed sufficiently to loosen obstructions in the flow of the vital energy which is also known as gi. The standalone Facial massage of the recent Western world was popularized in twentieth-century Europe before it was inducted into the North American world of cosmetic and beauty treatments. As a result, Facial massage came to be regarded as the job for estheticians, cosmetologists and makeup artists rather than massage therapists.
In the cosmetic and beauty arena, the Facial massage is administered with the intent to slow down the natural aging process and to attain younger, healthier and more vibrant looking and feeling facial skin. However, Facial massage also has therapeutic benefits as it can relieve and mitigate stress, migraine headaches, premenstrual syndromes (PMS) as well as sinus congestion.
In spite of their growing demand as entire massage sessions of their own, Facial massages are not precluded from total body massage treatments. Needless to say, Facial massage treatments which are performed the entire session are much more comprehensive and include many elements that are not included in Facial massages that are part of full-body treatments. In both instances, though, gentle yet stimulating upward strokes are used in circular or semi-circular gliding movements. A typical and basic Facial massage will include the following procedure and usually in that same specific order:
* With the client comfortably reclining on his or her back on a treatment table and the professional seated close to the client’s head, the face is thoroughly cleansed and wiped dry.
* A lubricant such as a cream, lotion or oil is applied to the entire face and neck area. The Facial massage will begin with repetitive rounded movements and will include every part of the face as well as the neck, ears, and scalp. Crucial pressure points will also be stimulated in the process.
* The face, neck, and ears are cleansed of the lubricant used for the massage and a facial moisturizer is applies.
Facial massages may also include the removal of facial hair as well as the removal of blackheads and whiteheads which will necessitate a moist steam treatment. These three elements will be included right after the massage session and before the application of the moisturizer. In addition, the entire process may be culminated with the application of full or partial makeup and sometimes even a hairdo.
The benefits of the Western-style Facial massage are:
* Improvement of the facial skin and its muscle tone.
* Relaxation of the facial and eye muscles.
* Alleviation from tension headaches and general facial pain.
* Relief from stress and anxiety.
* The overall release of stress from the body and mind.
Facial massages are part of full-body treatments in Eastern therapies where pressure is applied to points on the face that correspond to various internal organs such as the stomach, the liver and the gall bladder. With such different techniques, it is not surprising therefore, that the benefits of the Eastern Facial massages are very different from those of the West:
* The stimulation of meridian points on the face.
* Relief from eyestrain and neck tension.
* Correction of liver and fall bladder imbalances.
* Recovery from nervous disorders of the stomach.
* Release from premenstrual water retention.
Facial massages, Eastern or Western, are not recommended under the following circumstances:
* While clients are wearing contact lenses.
* Open sores, boils, cuts or recent scar tissues in the face or neck areas.
* Inflamed, infected or bruised skin of the face and neck.
* Acne, psoriases or eczema, all of which can be worsened by the treatment.
Facial massages are most often performed with bare hands that are lightly lubricated by oils or lotions to help them glide more smoothly over delicate facial skin. However, there are some mechanical devices that may also be used instead of the hands or in addition to them. Best of all, in my opinion, Facial massages can very easily and effectively be self-administered just about any time and anywhere, and there are countless resources on the Internet that will instruct interested persons on how to master the art.
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