The practice of massage is as old as civilization itself. Hieroglyphs demonstrate that cave dwellers practiced a sort of kneading therapy all over the body. In fact, every corner of the world has some type of traditional massage that precedes the written word. During World War I, massage was used extensively in the treatment of nerve injury and shell shock. Today massage is used for everything from relaxation to psychotherapy; its pleasures and benefits are available to everyone.
Massage feels great, but what does it do? Classical Swedish/American neuromuscular massage affects the interaction between the control of muscles by the nervous system and the response of the muscles to these nerve systems. Muscles are stimulated via nerve cells to contract and relax. Specialized nerve receptors called proprioceptors receive and transmit information to monitor and protect the soft muscle tissue. Functions like degree of stretch, joint positioning, rate of movement, and muscle tension are all channeled through these receptor sites. Muscle and connective tissue dysfunction is almost always accompanied by proprioceptor hyperactivity that causes the muscle to tense up or become spastic. Opposing muscle groups become involved and, finally, a tight muscle results in a weakened muscle and vice versa.
Our muscles are like stubborn mules that repeat the same old movements every day for good or bad. Massage is introduced to the body to re-educate the muscles. Manipulating the muscles into new movements, increasing the muscles’ range of motion, softening the tissue, and lengthening and stretching muscles and connective tissue all change the biomechanical memory of the muscles involved. Overuse or injury to muscle and connective tissue can cause “knots” or tension clusters. These areas can be slowly released through deep tissue massage.
Combining herbs to massage enhances the physical movements as well as effects the mind and other systems within the body. Herbs can be used in a pre or post massage bath, in massage oils and creams or enjoyed as a tea. Whether taken at home, through self massage or in the professional setting of a spa, herbal massage takes the therapy to a new level of self-healing. Read full story.