Massage therapy is used to help manage a health condition or enhance wellness. It involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body. Massage has been practiced in most cultures, both Eastern and Western, throughout human history, and was one of the earliest tools that people used to try to relieve pain.
There are many different styles of massage. The most common is the Swedish massage, which is a whole-body therapeutic massage designed to relax the muscles and joints. Other popular types include deep tissue, shiatsu, hot stone, reflexology, and Thai massage. You can also choose from specialty therapies, like a pregnancy massage.
As an occupation, massage therapy dates back to the 1700s, where forerunners of today’s massage therapists were called rubbers. Rubbers were experts in treating orthopedic problems with manual rubbing and friction. You might look at the influence they had on massage therapy this way: They established the occupation from which the profession of massage therapy later developed. Ohio was the first state to regulate massage as a “limited branch of medicine,” and Agnes Bridget Forbes became the first licensed masseuse in North America in 1916.
In 1958, the AAMM changed its name to the American Massage & Therapy Association, and from that point on encouraged calling the profession massage therapy and practitioners massage therapists. The “&” was dropped in 1983, reinforcing the identity of the unified profession as massage therapy. The term therapy was defined generally as promoting good health and encompassed the whole range of applications envisioned by Ling over a century earlier.
Generally, massage is known to affect the circulation of blood and the flow of blood and lymph, reduce muscular tension or flaccidity, affect the nervous system through stimulation or sedation, and enhance tissue healing. These effects provide a number of benefits: