A MassageTherapist uses manipulation of superficial and deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue using various techniques. Massage helps to enhance function, aid in the healing process, and decreases muscle reflex activity. It also inhibits motor-neuron excitability, promotes relaxation and well-being, and can be used as a recreational activity.
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.” Greek verb μάσσω (massō) “to handle, touch, to work with the hands, to knead dough”. In distinction, the ancient Greek word for massage was anatripsis, and the Latin was frictio.
Massage therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, with references in medical texts nearly 4,000 years old. In fact, Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” referenced massage when he wrote, in the 4th century B.C.: “The physician must be acquainted with many things, and assuredly with rubbing.”
Now days, in addition to “rubbing,” massage therapy, often referred to as bodywork or somatic therapy, refers to the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the body that include applying fixed or movable pressure, holding, vibration, rocking, friction, kneading and compression using primarily the hands, although massage therapists do use other areas of the body, such as the forearms, elbows or feet. All of the techniques are used for the benefit of the musculoskeletal, circulatory-lymphatic, nervous, and other systems of the body. In fact, massage therapy positively influences the overall health and well-being of the client:
A Massage therapist works and acts on the body with pressure – structured, unstructured, stationary, or moving – tension, motion, or vibration, done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may includemuscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, or organs of the gastrointestinal system. A Massage Therapist can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, knees, forearm, or feet.
In professional settings, a Massage Therapist treats the client while lying on a massage table, sitting in a massage chair, or lying on a mat on the floor, while in amateur settings a general purpose surface like a bed or floor is more common. The Massage Therapist allows the subject to be fully or partially clothed or unclothed.
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