Massage Therapy’s Role in Complementary And Alternative Medicine
This article will explain some of the current popular therapies available that can substitute for the traditional method of visiting a medical doctor to be treated with either pharmaceutical prescription drugs or surgery. These “alternative” treatments can involve physical exercise and movement (yoga, dance therapy, Qi Qong, Tai Chi), manipulation of muscles, spine, or energy fields by a 3rd person (massage, chiropractic, Reiki), mental therapies (hypnotherapy, progressive relaxation), or ingestion of natural substances or preparations (herbs, vitamins, teas, botanicals, oils, microorganisms, minerals, homeopathic remedies, health foods).
Personal discipline goes hand-in-hand with maintaining good health – either the career discipline of the medical practitioner to learn to heal other people or the self-discipline of the patient to take care of his own health factors such as diet, exercise, and hygiene. In recent decades there has been an increased awareness that people should take more responsibility for their own health; there are things the doctors can do and things that they can’t do for a patient. The traditional medical doctor may not have the best approach: they see patients after the problem has come up; there is little opportunity to take preventative measures because the condition remains hidden until it starts causing bodily damage, discomfort, or pain.
Preventing a condition from developing in the first place is one of the aims of alternative medicine. There is wider acceptance today that energy is a major factor in health. Massage therapy helps to balance the body towards relaxation because it is known that stress has a negative effect on body tissue. When electromagnetic energy builds in a person’s system it creates a mini-laboratory complete with waste chemicals that have to be flushed out efficiently or else the system becomes clogged and inefficient.
When we speak of our nervous systems, circulatory systems, respiratory systems, digestive systems, et al., it may be assumed that they contribute to overall health or lack thereof. The word “system” comes from the Latin “systema” which was the word for Rome’s sewer, and developed to the English to mean those components or elements that share structure, behavior, and interconnectivity to a common purpose or function.
Massage therapy deals with the muscular system that allows us to move around and pump blood through the circulatory system. The muscular system is comprised of three types of muscle tissue: skeletal, smooth, and cardiac. They have focal points where motor neurons are attached; electrical impulse signals from the nervous system control the muscles. A person’s balance, coordination of limbs, etc. comes ultimately under the direction of the cerebellum of the brain. This can be demonstrated quickly by adding a fifth of vodka to the cerebellum in balance will degenerate in relation to the amount of alcohol in the system.
Massage therapists follow many different schools of thought regarding technique, but in general they will press, rub, and manipulate the soft tissue of the body. Massage can be used for rehabilitating sport injuries, easing pain, reducing stress, increasing relaxation, stimulating the body to get rid of waste cells, and eliminating depression. Being touched by another person can be therapeutic for those who suffer mental anguish from the human condition or their place in society; mental and physical factors intertwine constantly and so movement therapy such as Tai Chi ultimately calms the mind. Massage and other “holistic” health treatments recognize that energy fields do indeed exist and that mind and body are one.