Benefits Of Massage

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Its origins stem from an Indian remedial and grooming practice which had been and continues to be part of the Indian daily ritual for over 4,000 years. The ancient Indians believed that when energy channels become blocked and the flow of positive energy is obstructed, negative energy builds up and increasingly leads to a wide array of ailments and dysfunctions such as stress, depression, poor sleeping habits, localized and remote pains and aches, hampered and sluggish blood circulation, overall poor health, as well as loss of hair or baldness.

The main focus and intent of the Indian Head massage, therefore, is to open up the blockages and to allow the positive energy to flow freely through the entire body and in the process to get rid of the amassed negative energy.

Indians in times of yore, young and old and mostly women but not exclusively, sat in large groups and massaged each other’s heads. They began by applying a variety of nut and grain oils (coconut, almond, olive or sesame) which were to nourish the hair and scalp while, at the same time, the massage promoted improved circulation. Today’s modern Indians get their head massage treatments regularly in beauty salons and barber shops.

The Indian Head massage was introduced into the Western world in the early years of the 1970s by Narendra Mehta, a native of Bombay, India and an osteopath and a massage therapist. As countless techniques for the Indian Head massage were passed down through the generations, Mr. Mehta developed his own particular technique by integrating the head, neck, and shoulder and massage into a single robust therapy which promotes and elevates the body to heightened states of physical, mental and spiritual health and wellness. Mr. Mehta branded his comprehensive massage treatment as Champissage.

Champi means “head massage” in Indian and it is also, by the way, the origin of the English word “shampoo.” With the help of Mr. Mehta’s promotional campaign, Champissage rapidly gained popularity in Europe and elsewhere around the world, and he summarizes his own belief which, in fact, echoes the belief of his ancestors by making the following statement out of his current home base in London: “Unfortunately, in the West, many people worry about their hair’s health only when they start to lose it. Healthy hair should be promoted from childhood with the help of regular massage.”

The body has seven chakras which are centers that regulate the flow of energy all through the body. Champissage works on the top three energy centers or chakras which are found on the crown of the head, the forehead and the throat as it aims to bring the entire body into corrected alignment and proper balance. The resulting effects are strong, silky and shiny hair, relief from stress, restful sleep patterns, increased energy and sharpened mental clarity.

The Indian Head Massage or the Champissage is performed in a quiet place where the client can sit comfortably on a chair and the massage therapist can either stand or sit directly behind him or her.

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In an attempt to understand how and why massage therapy is as effective as it seems to be, scientists and medical researchers from around the world have been studying it for decades. Some characteristics of massage therapy have been conclusively resolved with apparent consensus among the learned scholars, while other characteristics remain as inexplicably mysterious as ever.

For instance, they all agree that when a certain amount of pressure is applied to a soft tissue such as a muscle, some changes occur within the affected muscles. They also all tend to agree that massage therapy promotes relaxation and reduces the stress which often leads to deterioration or worsening of certain physiological conditions.

Those characteristics of massage therapy which have not yet been explained by conventional science, gave rise to a number of theories and postulates. You will note that they are all prefaced with the word “might” to indicate uncertainty as they described possible health benefits of massage therapy:

• Might provide stimulation that may help block pain signals transmitted to the brain and this is called the “gate control theory” of decreasing or alleviating pain.

• Might promote better health by stimulating the lymphatic system to increase the flow of lymph, which is the secretion that carries disease fighting cells through the body.

• Might re-route the client’s nervous system away from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic. In doing so, the fight-or-flight reaction of the sympathetic nervous system with its increased heart and breathing rates along with tightened muscles of distress are shunned in favor of the rest-and-digest reaction of the parasympathetic nervous system with its lowered heart rate, slowed breathing and relaxed muscles.

The following are specific cases and their reported benefits whether they are understood or merely observed with bewilderment:

• Students at a New Jersey Medical School who were given massage therapy before an exam displayed less anxiety, lower respiratory rates, a substantial increase in white blood cells and an enhanced immune system.

• Cancer patients at the James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio experienced less pain and decreased anxiety after receiving massage therapies than those who did not get such treatments.

• Studies at the University of South Carolina show that women who recently lost a child were less depressed after massage therapy.

• The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that massage therapy improved weight gain in infants who were premature or those who were exposed to HIV. They also determined that massage therapy expedites recovery in patients who had abdominal surgery.

• Researchers at the University of the Miami School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute discovered that massage therapy decreases high blood pressure, relieves migraine headaches, and generally increases alertness and performance in the workforce.

So, is massage therapy beneficial? Yes! Massage therapy is beneficial on, oh, so many levels. The mechanics of the process may not be clear just yet, but the outcomes are undeniable by anyone’s standards.

If you are anything like me, you probably prefer staying away from providers of conventional Western medicine as much as possible and I cannot say that I blame you. Although I have full medical coverage for that “you never know when you might need it” time of my life, I have not seen any of my Blue Cross doctors in well over ten years. I do have my weak moments of pain and sniffles just like everyone else, or at least everyone else who takes good care of themselves. So, when my body seems to need a boost, I visit one of my two favorite practitioners of alternative medicine; my massage therapist or my chiropractor.

I know that it all sounds very simple and straight forward but it is, in fact, somewhat challenging at times, because I do not always know which one of these wonderful professional to seek out. So, I often first opt to visit my chiropractor for a good therapeutic session of adjusting and aligning my skeletal structure and then, as an extra bonus to me and my one and only body, I also make an appointment with my massage therapist for some hefty digging and rubbing. Between the two of them, I come out feeling like a million bucks although my finances are sadly depleted. I figure that we, my body and I, are worth it.

Now, you might ask and rightfully so, “What is the difference between a massage therapy and chiropractic therapy?” Well, I will be happy to tell you:

Chiropractic Therapy

• For the most part, chiropractic therapy focuses on the hard tissues such as the spine and other joints for adjusting and realignment. Chiropractors have some training in massage techniques but that is never their first and foremost priority.

• Chiropractors are authorized to make medical diagnosis, order x-rays or blood works.

• Chiropractors cannot prescribe conventional medications but they can sell supplements or homeopathic remedies.

• Chiropractors do not need medical referrals to perform their work.

Massage Therapy

• Massage therapists perform wonderful work on the soft body tissues such as the muscles, tendons and ligaments but they have not been trained nor are they licensed to adjust the spine or any other joints.

• Massage therapists may not legally make medical diagnosis, order x-rays or any blood work.

• Massage therapists are not permitted to dispense medications of Western medicine but they can and do provide or recommend alternative herbal remedies.

• Massage Therapists do not required referrals from anyone to conduct their massage sessions.

A recently conducted study in the United States asked to rate which alternative treatments worked best for their two biggest health problems for the past two years and the overwhelming majority voted just as I would have; for deep tissue massage therapy and chiropractic therapy in equal measures for such conditions as back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, respiratory problems, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, insomnia and prostate problems.

Of course, as far as alternative medicine is concerned, one should not discount acupuncture and reflexology for they too are beneficial in their own very special ways.

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