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History of Massage


Massage has been an important component of both Eastern and Western medicine since ancient times. Bodywork figures heavily in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) practices, and early Greek and Roman medical writings mention the role of massage in treating athletes and postsurgical patients. The style of Swedish massage was developed during the 19th century and is often credited to P. H. Ling, founder of the Royal Gymnastics Central Institute in Stockholm.

Though many Eastern countries include massage therapy as part of standard medical care, in the Western world it is usually considered a separate profession.

Benefits of Massage


Well-intentioned touch can affect the entire body positively and leave you feeling physiologically and psychologically better. Massage can:

  • Reduce muscle spasms

  • Restore length to muscles tightened by overuse and postural habits

  • Break up adhesions (or knots) in tissues that can hinder movement

  • Treat chronic musculoskeletal pain, such as lower-back pain and headaches

  • Increase blood and lymph circulation, which allows more nutrients to reach cells

  • Reduce the body’s output of stress hormones by stimulating the parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) nervous system

  • Provoke endorphin production

  • Improve respiratory and immune system functioning

  • Calm mental activity and reduce emotional stress

What to Expect When You Get a Massage


Getting a massage should be a completely calming experience for you, with no disturbances or surprises to either your body or your mind.


Length of the Massage


Massages typically last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, with 60 minutes as a rough average. The massage may cover the full body or focus only on specific areas of concern, such as the lower back, neck, shoulders, or legs.

Questions the Therapist Will Ask

The therapist will ask you about your health history, any medications you are taking, your general physical activities, and areas of pain or discomfort. This is so the therapist can rule out any conditions that may make massage unsafe and determine how to tailor the massage to your needs.




The therapist will then tell you how much, if any, of your clothing you should take off and how to position yourself on the table or floor. If you are expected to undress, the therapist will give you privacy and drape you under a towel. If you feel uncomfortable undressing entirely, you are not obligated to do so.


Talking During the Massage


Most people choose not to talk very much during the massage; it helps the therapist concentrate and helps you focus on what is happening to your body. The therapist may occasionally ask you to participate in the massage by taking a deep breath or moving a limb while he or she performs a certain technique. Otherwise you should remain as passive as possible and let the therapist do all the work.


What to Do If You’re Dissatisfied


You should never feel intimidated during a massage—don’t hesitate to speak up and tell the therapist if anything feels uncomfortable or painful to you. Every person’s body is different, so certain massage techniques may or may not work for different people. Feedback helps the massage therapist alter the session for you.

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