By Laurel Alexander
First published in "Yoga & Health" magazine
Forget the massage jokes! The reality is that massage can prepare the body for sporting events, relax taut muscles after strenuous activity, help to release tension headaches, improve the circulation and ease specific muscular problems thereby generally improving the overall health of the body.
As far back as 3000 BC, massage was used as a therapy in the Far East. Hippocrates recommended that a massage using oils should be taken daily after a perfumed bath to maintain health. Massage grew in popularity in the 19th century when Per Henrik Ling, a Swedish fencing master, created the basis for what we now know as Swedish massage. This therapy works on the soft tissues of the body and its relaxing effects help both muscles and joints. During the 1970s, The Massage Book' was published by George Downing which introduced the concept that the state of a person should be assessed by a therapist in a holistic way and not purely on a physical basis. From this, therapeutic massage was developed to relax, stimulate and invigorate.
Massage can be an effective tool as an aid to recovery especially for those who are bed ridden, by stimulating the flow of blood to the muscles. A recent development is the use of massage for cancer patients suffering from the after effects of treatment.
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