Massage therapy is one of the oldest forms of art with the human body and the benefits of a therapeutic massage are often underestimated. The history of massage therapy is one that stems from Asia, specifically in China and India. Many ask what exactly is massage therapy, as the term is used broadly in places such as spas to hospitals. What is massage therapy? It is the combination of human touch and moving of the muscles to create a relaxed state of mind. To learn massage therapy, you must learn its different definitions, practices and therapeutic effects known to practitioners throughout the history of massage therapy.
The foundation of massage therapy, especially medical massage therapy is often credited to the Eastern Chinese medical practices of 2000 BC. Massage therapy, however, can have many benefits that are not all medical massage therapy benefits. For example, the human touch element to a massage that has little to do with how you learn massage therapy and much to do with how personable the massage therapist is and the energy they bring into the room. Kneading muscles and skin, having a top of the line massage table warmer or using the perfect combination of towels and lighting is not effective if the client is not in a relaxed state of mind. The massage therapist, too, has to learn massage therapy in a way that is relaxing and creates positive energy for their patients. Remember, no matter which type of massage therapy you practice, patients usually see you for help becoming more relaxed and in less pain.
Types of practice include back pain therapy, medical massage therapy, chronic massage therapy, stress relief therapy and other practices that are similar such as aromatherapy (massage techniques with scented oils), Reiki (foot massage therapies) and other techniques. There is great debate on whether back pain therapy is really effective in the medical community. For example, a Pub Med article by the USA government department of health studied a group of chronic back pain therapy patients and found that it significantly approved their condition and made their back pain less intense. In fact, the College of Massage Therapists of Ontario found that in order to learn massage therapy and effectively help these patients, it was necessary to learn massage therapy on back pain. Massage continuing education showed that, in this study, 92% of patients had improved function, less intense pain and decrease sharpness of pain when massage therapy was used.
Healing practices or medical massage therapy occurred in the 2000 BC but continue to occur today. Most medical massage therapists treat back pain therapy, sports injury or other types of chronic pain. These therapists are often certified and learn massage therapy through different schools and educational programs. However, the longest massage therapy program in the world is in British Columbia, Canada and is three years long to learn massage therapy. While this seems like a long program, for any program, massage continuing education is an important part of any program. Healers in Eastern cultures are often priests, or spiritual leaders who practice medical massage therapy in their community. However, as researcher Paul Ingram of Vancouver, Canada, suggests, massage benefits tend to be "temporary and inconsistent" and can vary from patient to patient, massage therapy spa clinic to clinic and even from therapist to therapist.
Current trends in massage therapy extend past the history of massage therapy and use historical techniques with modern medicine to establish practices that are well balanced between the two. In order to learn massage therapy, therapists today should be open to a broad range of massage therapist techniques, tools and purposes. While massage used to be a simple concept, new Western and Eastern combinations of the history of massage therapy with today allows for diversity in techniques.