Get a Massage and Feel Good All Over!
TODAY, in this high-strung world, more and more people are getting massages to relax them. And for this a massage can be even more effective and beneficial than tranquilizer pills!
Massage, however, is not an invention of this nervous twentieth century, nor is it useful only in relieving tension. As a means of treatment, massage is mentioned in the earliest of medical records, including those of Hippocrates.
The Erotic Use
Unfortunately, one reason why more and more people are getting massages is because of the possibilities that this affords for sexual intimacy. In many large cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, “massage parlors” or “health clubs” have sprung up to exploit massage for erotic ends, such parlors being termed ‘whorehouses.’ (Newsweek, April 26, 1971) Indicative of their purpose is the advertisement of one of them: “Men haven’t had it so good since Pompeii.” Even where city ordinances have made such places illegal, the police seem to be making little progress in their fight against them.
Because of this trend, anyone who wants to receive the health benefits that massage provides—beyond what he can do for himself or receive from members of his own family—does well first to make certain that the place he visits is reputable. It might be well to get a recommendation from your family doctor.
Massage as Therapy
The word “massage” comes from a French root meaning “to knead.” Massage involves manipulations of the soft tissues of the body, and, according to one authority, these are “most effectively performed with the hands and are administered for the purpose of producing effects on the nervous and muscular systems and on the local and general circulation of the blood and lymph.”
Generally, a person who is trained in the art of massage and who makes it his profession is known as a massager. A male massager is a masseur, a female massager, a masseuse. Physiotherapists also use massage and such other things as hot and cold water, diathermy and manipulation in treating disorders. Among those in the medical profession most likely to refer a patient to a physiotherapist or massager are orthopedists and doctors practicing “physical medicine.”
Characteristics of Massage
Basically there are four kinds of movements used in massage. There is the stroking of the muscles of the body. This is performed with the palms of the hands and the pulps of the fingers. Kneading is accomplished by grasping the muscles between the thumb and the fingers, both hands working together. Then there is friction, which involves a rotation movement. And there is also percussion, which is performed by striking the muscles with the edges of the palms. While there is a trend toward using mechanical means, such as a vibrator, there are many in the profession who believe that only by means of the hands are these movements most beneficially and effectively performed.
These differing procedures of massage are, in turn, modified and varied by certain factors. There is the matter of pressure, which can be either light, medium or heavy. The rate or pace at which the massaging is done, as well as the rhythm, is also important, being governed by whether stimulation or relaxation is the goal. Still another factor is that of duration, the length of time involved, usually from forty-five minutes to an hour for a thorough head-to-foot treatment. How frequently one gets a massage is another factor. Once or twice a week can be beneficial, if time permits, unless an injury is involved. Then again, the use of baths and heat in preparing a person for a massage is considered by many to be essential for maximum results.
There is reason to believe that massage is undervalued, even as are other aspects of physical medicine. Of course, a massage is a time-consuming treatment. By way of contrast, a thorough massage may take sixty times as long as a chiropractic treatment. A massage also involves a great deal of physical exertion on the part of the practitioner.
Many are the acclaimed benefits of massage. It increases metabolism and gives better tone to the muscles, nerves and skin. Massage also increases the circulation of the blood and has a sedative effect on the nerves. It therefore contributes to one’s well-being and is especially of benefit to those convalescing from acute diseases. Thus we are told that “massage is indicated in a variety of disease states. General debility in the elderly, secondary [anemia], . . . and certain forms of arthritis and muscular rheumatism may be favourably influenced by skilful massage.” Especially when a part of the body has been bruised, sprained or strained will massage help to restore its function. For example, massage, together with manipulation, will help a sprained knee to make rapid recovery, as any football squad will testify.
Massage has even been used by physiotherapists in heart attacks. Thus one physician who made use of this form of treatment reported that 70 percent of those whose hearts had stopped beating due to a heart attack had recovered permanently with the help of “closed chest cardiac massage.”
“Do It Yourself”
While the idea of self-treatment is frowned upon by the medical profession in certain lands, massage largely escapes that censure. You may not be able to help yourself or your loved ones as much as a professional, but most likely you will do some good. There are books on the subject that you can get from public libraries; or you can get a few treatments yourself so as to get an idea as to how to help yourself and yours.
For example, there is the massaging of the face, especially the eyes and ears. It is said that surprisingly good results in improved hearing and eyesight are sometimes obtained. You can also massage your scalp, assuring better circulation. This is done with the tips of your fingers, but you must be certain that it is the scalp that moves and not the fingers. You can also help yourself by massage in cases of simple constipation or gas pockets in the bowels. With a circular motion follow the large intestine from the lower right side up to the diaphragm and then across and downward. Some have also found massage helpful in overcoming sleeplessness. This too can be done at home, by another member of the family, with the one needing the massage lying on his stomach on a firm bed, while the other does the massaging from head to foot, including the soles and toes.
While massage and exercise seem to have something in common, actually each has its place and the one cannot be substituted for the other. True, both benefit the circulation, but massage cannot strengthen the muscles; only exercise can do that. On the other hand, exercise is always accompanied with the production of lactic acid by the muscles that the body must throw off; massage helps the body to do this. For this reason massage is often used after strenuous exercise to help remove such waste products; a fact widely appreciated by athletic coaches and even by trainers of horses.
Coming more and more to the fore is ice massage. Thus an army physician had a team of physiotherapists apply ice massage to soldiers who had been battered up in one way or another; using half-pound chunks of ice in a washcloth. Of the first 1,000 treated, 90 percent benefited. Though ice massage is definitely not recommended for arthritic and rheumatic conditions, it has proved to be the most effective treatment for all routine strains, sprains and bruises. The injured part can be treated with ice to the point of numbness. This kind of massaging can also be done by yourself in your own home.
More and more people are indeed getting massages. Some for the luxury and sheer enjoyment of the pleasant sensations connected with the treatment; others for the gratification of their base sexual passions. But massage for health reasons, for therapeutic purposes, can be really beneficial. If administered by a reputable professional or by understanding members of your own family, a massage can help you to relax, build muscle tone, improve your circulation, improve the condition of your scalp, and, with ice, hasten the healing of bruises, sprains and strains. Yes, a massage can make you feel good all over—if you get the right kind!