Sunday, October 9, 2011

Wellness Month: Meet The Experts - Massage Therapy

Massage: The word comes from the French massage "friction of kneading", or from Arabic massa meaning "to touch, feel or handle" or from Latin massa meaning "mass, dough",[3][4] cf. Greek verb μάσσω (massō) "to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough".[5] [Source: Wikipedia]

The healing art of massage, the manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and promote relaxation and well-being, has been around for centuries with the exact origins being hard to determine.  However, it is well known that many Eastern and Western cultures had techniques that eventually evolved into the massages we receive today. Literature from all over the world has been found to mention techniques of massage such as kneading, pressing, rubbing, tapping as a form of healing. The oldest medical book in existence mentions the treatment of paralysis and reduced circulation using massage. This ancient book called "The Yellow Emperor's Classics of Internal Medicine,"  was written in China in approximately 1000 BC. Then there was Hippocrates, circa 460-375 BC, who discussed "gently rubbing" a dislocated shoulder following reduction to aid healing. The ancient Greeks even used massage on athletes before and after sport. It was thought to help prepare the muscles before activity and remove extra fluid and metabolites after such activity. Gaelen of Rome (129-199 AD) wrote sixteen books on friction massage and gymnastics (remedial exercise), even describing the pressure direction and frequency of treatment. However, it wasn't until the nineteenth century that Swedish born fencer and physical education teacher, Per Ling, introduced the terminology we use today to describe the different massage techniques. He turned Stockholm into a center for therapeutic exercise, which was called medical gymnastics and massage therapy. That is when Swedish massage became internationally known. ln 1917 Massage Therapy was formerly introduced as a separate profession in the United States, when the Surgeon-General set up a rehabilitation process for soldiers wounded in the First World War. [Source: Wikipedia;]

Jennifer K. Brennan, LMT
Don't worry there will not a pop quiz at the end of this entry; however, I would like to introduce you to my friend Jennifer K. Brennan, LMT of Solace Massage Therapy & Wellness, LLC . She is an expert massage therapist who kindly answered some questions I had about massage therapy and her practice as part of the Joy of Fitness Mom's wellness month: nurturing the whole self for optimal well-being.

How and why did you become a massage therapist? In other words, what is your story,why did you get into the business?
In the late 1990s, I had my first massage after a relationship ended.  I was in great need of loving contact and spiritual uplifting and this massage changed my life.  As I trained for my first marathon in 2000, I received a weekly massage to keep my body comfortable in between long runs.  Massage was the one thing that consistently brought me relief physically and emotionally.  After my children were born, I suffered post-partum depression and when I rebounded enough I realized I needed something just for me.  I went to massage therapy school to honor my passion for the human body, the greatest creation ever, and my desire to heal and touch--literally and figuratively--others in need of vitality and solace.  I believe that people need and deserve healthy touch in order to thrive.  Now, I have a growing practice, interesting clients, and a joy in my heart that no other profession has offered me in my life. 

What is wellness? You hear these terms health, fitness and wellness a lot - explain the wellness part and how it differs from fitness. 
Wellness means being attuned to ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  If balance between the body, mind, and spirit is out of whack we are at risk for dis-ease.  Fitness is just one vital component of wellness and is especially important for women as we age.  To be well, we need to balance physical activity with rest, good nutrition with occasional indulgence, yin with yang, time with others and time alone.  Wellness for me also involves feeding my passions, doing things that resonate with me and bring me soulful moments, moments where smiles start deep within and radiate out into the world.

What is massage therapy and how does it work? 
Massage is the manipulation of soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, and fascia).  By using a variety of strokes and pressures, massage aids circulation by moving blood and lymph throughout the body. Massage offers many benefits.  First and foremost, massage therapy helps elicit the relaxation response and encourages the body to "rest and digest".  When the body is relaxed many more benefits can be derived such as reduced pain, improved flexibility, stress reduction, strengthening of the immune system, lowered blood pressure, and increased psychological well being.

Who does massage therapy benefit? 
Massage benefits just about anyone and there are few contraindications.  From the fetus inside a mother's womb to an elderly person nearing the end of their life, touch is vital to our survival as human beings. 

Anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Women need nurturing in return for all the care they give to others.  On the most basic biological level, women are in continuous flux hormonally--from the first menstrual cycle until menopause and beyond.  These chemical changes can have profound effects on our well-being and sometimes can drive us just about bonkers!  Thankfully, massage, acupuncture, Reiki, yoga and other healing arts are being embraced in growing numbers by women!  It is wonderful to see women acknowledge that they are important enough to care for themselves on deeper levels, to embrace rather resist the changes of each stage of life.  It is only with rest and downtime that our energetic endeavors can best be achieved and fully enjoyed.

Thanks Jennifer for sharing your expertise with us! 

Be on the look out for the next Wellness Month: Meet the Expert- A Nutritionist. In the meantime...Be active. Be happy!


1 comment:

Andrew Sherman said...

Thank you for sharing your post. The expert massage therapy can help to determine what kind of massage we need. We cannot be wrong when we seek an advice to the professional massage therapy. Kissimmee Massage can give a total massage experience.