The Evolution of Massage

By admin
March 07, 2012

Sacred Healing to Medically Prescribed Treatment
By Lana Turnbull

There is no way to accurately pinpoint when or where massage therapy was first used. There is evidence it was practiced in India as early as 3000 B.C.E. and in Egypt and China between 2500 and 2000 B.C.E. The early cultures of Japan, Greece and Rome, also used massage therapy to treat physical injuries and diseases. We do know massage therapy began as a sacred system of natural healing.

Today, deep tissue massage therapy and myofascial release therapy focus on the realignment of deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue or fascia. To understand how these therapeutic methods work, you have to understand what fascia is and how it functions.

What is fascia?
Fascia is a specialized system of densely woven tissue that covers every muscle, bone, nerve, artery and vein, and all of the internal organs. It actually makes up 15% of the body’s weight, and is one continuous structure that exists from head to toe without interruption. In its normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy, capable of stretching and moving without restriction. However, physical or emotional trauma, inflammation, or surgery can create restrictions in the fascia at one point in the body which can result in tension and discomfort in other parts of the body. These restrictions can produce tensile pressures of approximately 2,000 pounds per square inch on pain-sensitive body structures that do not show up in many of the standard diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, myelograms, CAT scans, or electromyography, etc.

Deep Tissue Massage
Unlike classic massage therapy, which is used primarily for relaxation, deep tissue massage usually focuses on a specific problem such as: chronic pain; limited mobility; recovery from injuries; repetitive strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome; postural problems; osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia; and muscle tension or spasms.

Myofascial Release Therapy
Myofascial Release takes deep tissue massage a step further, to “release” the restrictions in the fascia and restore balance throughout the body. It is a safe, effective hands-on physical therapy technique that involves applying gentle, sustained pressure on the myofascial tissue allowing it to relax, stretch and release the tension that is causing pain at the site of the restriction and other points throughout the fascial system.

How does MR therapy work?
Myofascial release therapy is based on the idea that poor posture, physical injury, illness, and emotional stress can throw the body out of alignment and cause its intricate web of fascia to become taut and restricted. Because fascia link every organ and tissue in the body, the use of hands-on myofascial release therapy techniques free disruptions in the facscial network and relieve pressure on the bones, muscles, joints, nerves and organs in the process.

What conditions can MR therapy be used to treat?
According to physical therapist, John Sellers, RPT from Grace Myofascial Clinic in Jackson, MS, myofascial release therapy is designed to treat a specific problem or condition.

“Unlike other forms of massage, myofascial release therapy is prescribed by a patient’s general practice physician or specialist,” notes Sellers. “It is relatively new here in the South, but is finally becoming more widely recognized. In other parts of the country, like California, Colorado and New York, myofascial realease is already more of a mainstream treatment for a wide variety of problems.”
Some of the most common conditions that are treated at Grace Myofascial Clinic are cervical pain, back pain (especially back problems of all types) and migraine.

“For these and other conditions, MR therapy is often more successful than surgery and conventional medications,” adds Sellers. “We have treated a wide range of patients – of all ages, from 14 to over 90. The good news is that unlike some medical or surgical options, with MR there is no downside or negative side effect. And, you don’t have to worry about unwanted interactions with other medications or treatments a patient might be receiving.”

Other conditions treated by myofascial release therapy are: TMJ: scoliosis; sciatica: neurological dysfunction: and chronic fatigue syndrome.

“Everything Old is New Again”
Despite the extensive history of massage therapy throughout the ages, modern medicine is just discovering and embracing ancient healing techniques, which illuminate the deep understanding our predecessors had of the human body and how it works. Myofascial release is now taking its place among accepted modern healing techniques that are rooted in the ages.

John Sellers is a 1966 graduate of the University of Mississippi School of Health Related Professions in Physical Therapy, and has practiced as a Board Certified Therapist for 15 years. He received his Myofascial Release training from world-renowned therapist, John Barnes, PT. of Sedona, Arizona. For more information about Myofascial Release call Grace Myofascial Clinic at 769.257.6378. A physician or nurse practitioner referral is required.

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