Lyn W. Freeman
WHY READ THIS CHAPTER?
Human touch is one of our most primal needs. Without touch, infants fail to thrive, depressed
persons are denied comfort, and maximal pain relief is often not provided. Can touch really heal?
There is excellent research to suggest that it can. Massage seems to stimulate and strengthen one's
natural healing capacities. In these times of medical technology, when touch is avoided, massage is
a complementary treatment that offers benefits not provided by approaches that are more orthodox.
It behooves the medical provider and the patient to be aware of the benefits of massage.
CHAPTER AT A GLANCE
Massage is defined as the intentional and systematic manipulation of the soft tissues of the
body, that is, the normalization of soft tissues, to enhance health and healing. It is one of the oldest forms of health practice and has been used since ancient times in the cultures of India, Persia,
Arabia, Egypt, and Greece.The mechanics used to explain the benefits of massage are the following:
|1. ||Mechanical—compressing, stretching, shearing, and broadening tissues|
|2. ||Physiologic—cellular, tissue, and organ system effects|
|3. ||Reflex—pressure and movement in one body part affecting another|
|4. ||Body-mind interactions—between the mind and the emotion and disease processes|
|5. ||Energetic—flow of our life energy or chi|
Massage has been found beneficial as on intervention in or for the treatment of anxiety,
depression, acute and chronic pain, childbirth, neonatal development, and infants exposed to
cocaine and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).