Definition of massage: manipulation of tissues (as by rubbing, stroking, kneading, or tappying) with the hand or an instrument especially for therapeutic purposes. The word is derived from the Greek ‘masso’, to knead, and the Arabic ‘mass’, to press gently.
History of massage tables: The World of Massage Museum displays a Victorian massage table from 1878, a vibrating massage table made in 1918. The term massage table arrived sometime during the late 1920s. Prior to that, devices used for massage were called couches. The first massage tables were used during the time of Greeks and Romans and were made of marble slabs called plinths and limestone. In the late 19th century, during the Victorian era, where the term massage couch was used for massage tables that were pieces of furniture. They were usually stuffed with horsehair and were upholstered with velvet or similar material. Horse hair was used as it was more resistant than cotton. Then came the 1920s, when massage tables were developed in the United States. In the 1930s, the first portable massage table was created, made of a wooden frame with metal or wooden legs. The face hole cut into the head appeared sometime in the 1940s. Many practitioners adapted to George Downing’s tables from his 1960s book, “The Massage Book”, which included homemade models which were copied for the next decade until the 1970s when they were commercially manufactured and readily available. The Battlecreek Company manufactured the first light-weight massage table, introducing their aluminum folding portable table in the 1950s. The face cradle, which attaches to the end of the massage table was first introduced in the 1980s. The first tables were made of wood and vinyl covered foam padding. Now current models are ergonomically designed with multilayered padding and come in a variety of styles and colors. Specialty tables are available, such as those for pregnant women, doing special bodywork that requires an extra wide tabletop, among the numerous options available in today’s market. Massage table tops are easily cleaned and is no longer a problem with hygiene. They are also water/oil resistant and durable. Today, most high quality massage tables are being produced in the United States.
History of massage: The oldest written record of massage is approximately 4000 years old. It was found in a Chinese medical text, dated at around 1800 BC. Hippocrates of Cos (460 to 380 B.C.), the father of medicine and author of the Hippocratic Oath, wrote “the physician must be experienced in many things but assuredly also in rubbing (anatripses); for things that have the same name have not always the same effects. For rubbing can bind a joint that is too loose and loosen a joint that is too rigid… Rubbing can bind and loosen; can make flesh (referring to the ability to tone muscle tissue) and cause parts to waste (soften and relax). Hard rubbing binds; soft rubbing loosens; much rubbing causes parts to waste; moderate rubbing makes them grow.” Europe turned away teachings during the Dark Ages. Pehr Heinrick Ling, from Sweden, used his work in manual therapy with athletes especially gymnasts, which led to his development and research of soft tissue technique known as Swedish Massage. He was regarded as the ‘father of modern massage’. There are currently over 70 massage modalities practiced in the United States. Among them are Stone Massage, Reflexology, Pregnancy Massage, Thai Yoga Bodywork, Craniosacral Therapy, etc. There are different types of massage, including the common types: Swedish massage, deep massage, sports massage, trigger point massage. Today, there is a continuous rise in ‘preventative medicine’ where modalities such as massage, yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, have taken place in American’s good health practice.
More research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage but some studies have found massage may also be helpful for:
~ digestive disorders
~ insomnia related to stress
~ myofascial pain syndrome
~ paresthesias and nerve pain
~ soft tissue strains or injuries
~ sports injuries
~ temporomandibular joint pain
Risks of massage: Most people benefit from massage. However, massage may not be appropriate if you have:
~ bleeding disorders or take blood thinning medication
~ burns, open, or healing wounds
~ deep vein thrombosis
~ severe osteoporosis
~ severe thrombocytopenia
Please discuss pros and cons with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant or have cancer or unexplained pain.
In rare circumstances, massages can cause:
~ internal bleeding
~ nerve damage
~ temporary paralysis
~ allergic reactions to massage oils or lotions