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Remedial Massage & Lymphedema Therapy

improve quality of life


Education Therapy

facilitate positive outcomes

Overview of the Benefits & History of Massage Therapy

The General Aims of Massage Therapy

Massage is the use of the hands to manipulate the soft tissue of the body to reduce muscle tension, maintain flexibility and improve circulation.

The term massage means to touch, softly press, squeeze, rub, handle or knead. It is usually applied to the skin, fascia, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The general action of massage is considered therapeutic, because it provides physical, emotional, psychological benefits.

Massage is generally viewed as a complimentary Natural Therapy, and can be used to help preserve health and modify illness. It can work in conjunction with orthodox and complimentary therapies and is in itself an enjoyable and healthy activity.

Massage has been employed in many ways and has a growing recognition for its usefulness in a wide range of health care settings. Most health care practitioners performing massage are known as Massage Therapists but other professionals such as Nurses, Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Osteopathic Physicians, Athletic Trainers are among those making use of the benefits of massage therapy.

General benefits of massage are promoting beneficial physical changes in the body including;

§ Anxiety

§ Promote Feelings of Wellbeing

§ Combating Stress

§ Arthritis

§ Back or Neck pain

§ Soft tissue injuries

§ Chronic pain

§ Depression

§ Headache

§ High blood pressure

§ Insomnia

§ Reducing muscular tension

§ Relaxation

§ Improved toning and stimulation of muscles tendons ligaments

§ Improved blood and lymph circulation

§ Surgery Preparation and Recovery

§ Sports Preparation and Recovery

History and Philosophical Development of Massage

Philosophy - First Do No Harm. Massage Therapists are bound by regulations and ethical principles of their peak organizations and professional association bodies.

These organizations have put together concepts and strategies developed to protect Consumers and to ensure that Practitioners are operating to standards of health care that adhere to the underpinning philosophy of complementary and alternative medicine which is 'First do no harm'.

This perspective is used to enhance the view that massage therapy is a compliment to the mainstream and conventional approach to health care.

History - 400 BC Hippocrates wrote "The way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day".

History shows that touch is an integral part of all living organisms, and is demonstrated in natural setting of mothers grooming their young, through to the instinctual rubbing of an aching joint.

Massage is one of the oldest forms of treatment and references to massage can be found in many cultures as far back as 2700 B.C. in Chinese records.

The use of the term "Massage" is relatively new and first appeared in English literature 1875. other cultures recorded the term - Greek, Massa; Arabic, massa'h; Sanskrit, makeh.

Ancient Greek and Roman literature contains many references to massage, advocating massage before and after sports, during convalescence, after bathing as medical treatment for melancholia, asthma, for digestive problems and more.

Roman emperors physician Galen 131-210 A.D. wrote 16 books relating to massage and exercise, many of his ideas are still considered relevant today. India has placed a great value on massage and been incorporated into Ayurvedic medicine dating back 1800 B.C.

Captain Cook also recorded how in 1779 his painful sciatica was relieved by Tahitian women who massaged him from head to foot.

18th and 19th Century saw massage popularity grow under the influence of Per Herik Ling ( 1776-1839) who's Swedish massage technique spread across Europe.

His work was rewarded by the Crown and institutes were set up in Stockholm 1838 and London, later also in Russia, France and America. Ling's influence lasted, massage is still referred to as Swedish Massage.

Massage is again regaining it therapeutic value and an accepted place in Health Care as a compliment to other medical treatment, and as a means of maintaining general positive health.

Recently introduced national standards for Massage Therapy, as defined by the Health Training Package for Complimentary and Alternative Therapies, are bringing greater confidence and consistent standards of service to consumers.

We can expect Massage Therapy to continue to evolve as training programs, research and assessment methods become more advanced.

Relaxation Vs Remedial Massage Therapy

There are many different categories of Massage Therapy, each with their own specific targeted outcomes. For instance Lymphatic Drainage is targeted to stimulating the Lymphatic system, Sports Massage is targeted addressing common ailments related sporting activities.

Generally most establishments will offer Relaxation Massage Therapy, which is an overall gentle soothing and non specific treatment based on calming and relieving general tension, or Remedial Massage Therapy which is a more specialized advanced treatment using a variety of assessment and application protocols, having a specific outcome or applied to a specific condition.

Relaxation massage is typically Swedish Soft Tissue Massage and aims to achieve the following; relax the client, improve general wellbeing, reduce mental stress.

Some Relaxation techniques applied are -

Long sweeping strokes - designed to loosen and sooth the body such as Fan stroking, Circle stroking, Cat stroking, Thumb stroking.

Kneading - stretches / relaxes tense tight muscles and fleshy areas, brings fresh blood / nutrients to the area with variations - basic kneading, wringing, light kneading.

Pressures - gentle, gradual steady application of pressure in areas around the spine, useful for relieving tension.

Percussion - bouncy percussion movements are used over fleshy areas, improve circulation, generally stimulating but calming if performed more slowly, variations include pummeling and hacking.

Remedial Massage Therapy is generally considered as the application of a variety of techniques such as Lymphatic Drainage a gentle specific sequence of light rhythmic pumping movements, aimed at improving and facilitating lymph flow.

Myofascial Release therapy, also known as myofascial trigger point therapy, is a type of safe, low load stretch that releases tightness and myofascial pain.

Bowen Therapy a gentle, specific cross-fiber mobilization technique that targets the soft connective tissues

A Remedial Massage session will usually involve a thorough assessment by the practitioner and aims to relieve specific ailments.


Casanelia, L., & Stelfox, D. (2010). Foundations of Massage. Chatswood : Elsevier Australia.

Lowe, W. (1997). Functional Assessment in Massage Therapy (3rd ed.). Bend.OR: Orthopedic Massage Education & Research Institute.

Maxwell-Hudson, C. (1992). The Complete Book of Massage . Roseville, Australia: Simon & Schuster.

Mitchel, S. (1998 . The Complete Illustrated Guide to Massage, A Step - by - Step Approach to the Healing Art of Touch. Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element Books LTD.

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