Massage is the one of the oldest forms of remedial therapy. First practiced in a structured way probably in China and Mesopotamia more than 5,000 years ago, the art of massage was already well known to the physicians of ancient Greece when Hippocrates, the "father of medicine," wrote in the 5th century B.C. that "the way to health is a scented bath and an oiled massage every day."

Most modern methods of massage derive mainly from Swedish massage as developed by Per Henrik Ling, a Swede who visited China during the 19th century. Ling was so greatly impressed by the massage techniques he observed when he was there that he synthesized his own form of therapy to incorporate these ancient Oriental skills.

Massage is an excellent way to relax mind and body, and so bring relief from everyday stresses and strains. It also helps to restore a sense of calmness and balance after any shock or trauma.

Massages therapy, defined as the systematic manipulation of the soft tissues, relieved sore muscles and promotes relaxation. It is usually performed with various standard hand strokes, but sometimes pressure is applied with other parts of the body, such as the forearm, elbow, or foot.

The general purposes of massage are to reduce tension, improve circulation, aid in the healing of soft-tissue injuries, control pain and promote overall well being. Massage can gently stretch tissues, increase range of motion, and reduce some types of edema (swelling). It can also help lower blood pressure and heart rate and improve researchers believe massage helps the brain make endorphins, chemicals that act as natural painkillers-which perhaps explains why recipients feel better and more tranquil after a massage.

Shiatsu-An ancient form of pressure-point massage, shiatsu has been practiced for centuries in Japan. It is based on the principles of the Chinese discipline of acupuncture and applies pressure to key acupuncture points with the purpose of promoting the smooth flow of energy around the body.

Therapeutic massage-This comforting form of massage consists mostly of soothing strokes and rubbing and is now in wide use in both conventional and unconventional medicine for the relief of pain or physical discomfort. In recent years it has been shown to encourage recovery after a heart attack and to ease the suffering of patients with some types of cancer.

Reflexology-This is a specialized massage for the hands and feet; it is used for both diagnosing and correcting imbalances in the body. Sports massage-This form of therapy features deep tissue massage that aims to ease stiff joints, relax tense muscles, and restore suppleness.

Baby massage-By no means solely used on babies, baby massage relies on specially gentle strokes for promoting general health and happiness.

Biodynamic massage-This therapy combines massage with elements of physical exercise and psychological development.

Massages should not be performed on open wounds, cuts, or sores, sufferers from blood circulation disorders (such as phlebitis, thrombosis, or varicose veins); or on anyone with an abnormally high fever. Massage is not recommended during the early stages (the first trimester) of pregnancy. During the last trimester, however, gentle stroking can help to ease backache and promote relaxation, although it is important to avoid the more vigorous movements.

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