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MASSSAGE THERAPY

Massage Therapy is just one persuasion from a wide array of other very effective and closely related persuasions such as Acupressure, Body Work, Manipulative Therapy, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Structural Integration, Alternative Medical Systems, Mind-Body Intervention, Biologically Based Therapy, Energy Therapy, Shiatsu and Tui Na. And all these as a group come under the wide umbrella of alternative medicine and body-based methods. Massage Therapy is a procedure in which various methods are utilized to manipulate soft tissues of the subjects body such as the muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, connective tissues as well as the lymphatic vessels and organs of the gastrointestinal system.

The primary goal of Massage Therapy is to affect physical, psychological and functional curative changes by performing manipulative functions which involve moving or stationery pressure, structured or unstructured force to strategic points, vibration, stroking, kneading, and so on. On occasion, mechanical devices are used as tools of the trade, but for the most part, Massage Therapy is applied manually with the therapists hands, fingers, elbows, forearms and feet as the subject is fully clothed in a massage chair or partially to totally naked but covered with a towel on a massage table or on a mat on the floor.

Ancient scriptures have attested to the fact that massage therapy dates back into antiquity and it has been a fundamental practice in many different cultures such as the Roman, Greek, Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Indian. Even Biblical writings from c. 493 BC speak of daily massage with olive oil and myrrh being applied to the wives of Xerxes (Esther, 2:9-12) as part of their daily beauty routine. Hippocrates of Cos, a Greek physician of the fourth century BC who is also considered the father of medicine and after whose teachings the famous Hippocratic Oath was named, wrote that The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing.

Advancing to more modern times, Massage Therapy gained its popularity in the United States when it was presented by two physicians from New York in the 1800s. Their techniques were an adaptation from the Per Henrik Ling Massage Therapy which was developed in Sweden. With the introduction of new and exciting innovations in medicine during the 1930s and 1940s, the popularity of Massage Therapy waned but was revived again by the athletic community in the 1960s and 1970s. Massage Therapy was provided as a central medical service for the first time in the United States during the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.

Etymologically speaking, the word massage in English comes from a long line of derivatives as follows: the French word massage which means the friction of kneading, which comes from the Arabic word massa which means to touch, feel or handle, which comes from the Latin word massa which means mass or dough. The Greek word for massage is anatripsis and the Latin word is firctio. However, the oldest known origin of the English word massage comes from the Biblical Hebrew word me-sakj which means to anoint with oil.

What we refer to as Massage Therapy today has in the past been merely referred to as Massage. However, the therapy portion of the Massage Therapy came into being only when the illegal prostitution and sexual services in the United States began advertising themselves and their wares as massage. Wanting to distinguish itself, the legitimate massage became Massage Therapy while the illicit continued to be called massage.

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THE FOOT MASSAGE

Some 2,500 ago and during Lord Buddhas time in ancient India, a physician named Jivaka Komarabhacca developed a complex massage system which somehow ended up in Thailand where it was pass on by word of mouth from one generation to the next and is still practiced today in much the same way as it was so many centuries ago. When the Thai alphabet was developed under King Ramkamhaeng the Great, scholars began recording all aspect of Thai society, culture and healing practices which, of course, included massage therapy. Unfortunately, future generation had little left as almost all was destroyed when Thailands capital of Ayuthaya was captured by the Burmese invaders in 1776. All that remained of the recorded ancient traditions was that which, under the directives of King Rama III who wanted to preserve as much as possible, was engraved on the walls of Wat Poh, one of the most famous temples in Bangkok.

Based on the ancient teachings regarding massage therapies, many different kinds are practiced in modern day Thailand. The Foot massage is one of the most interesting of them all due to the fact that its principles are simple while its practice is quite a bit more complicated as the force which is applied to the foot by the massaging hands must be exceedingly accurate as it is directed toward particular nerves of the foot. The Thai believe that each part of the foot has a direct link to another remotely located part of the body such as a vital organ or a system. Therefore, applying pressure and massaging a certain area of the foot influences the soft tissues of that particular area of the foot as well as the other.

As a general rule, the Foot massage is much more effective when the foot is bare as opposed to being clad with socks or stockings. There are several basic techniques that are used by just about every Foot massage therapist and they are:

* Sweeping and Rubbing. Most Foot massages begin with bringing an increased supply of blood into the foot by rubbing its surface lightly but long enough to create the desired warmth and the rhythm of movement.

* Thumb Walking. The thumbs are used to apply more direct and firm pressure to various parts of the foot as well as to loosen the tense tendons which run along the its outside edge.

* Toe Rotation. The toes are very sensitive and care should be taken when manipulating them by either rotating each toe individually or by gently pulling them upwards and outwards while squeezing gently.

* Kneading. Kneading is accomplished by firmly but not harshly pressing and rotating the knuckles of a fisted hand back and forth across the sole of the foot, from its heel to its toes.

* Cupping. This is a simple squeezing of the entire foot with an up and down motion of one hand while cupping it with the other.

The benefits of a good Foot massage are many:

* Firmly pressing and massaging the base of the fourth toe heals an ailing heart.
* Pressing and massaging the base of the second toe stimulates the lungs and the bronchial system for improved breathing.
* Pressing and rolling the area between the first and second thumb relieves headaches.
* Massaging between the third and fourth toe relaxes tired eyes and improves vision.
* Stretching and pulling the big toe alleviates pain caused by sinusitis.
* Rotating pressure at the ball of the foot will ease stomachaches and heal the kidneys, the bladder and the entire excretory system.
* Applying pressure to the front of the heel delivers remedial effects to the male and female genital glands.
* Stretching the skin backwards and forwards under both sides of the anklebone is therapeutic to the reproductive tracts of men and women.
* Pulling the knuckle of any toe backwards along the instep eases spinal pain and improves posture.
* Holding the foot between two hands and rubbing the top of the foot between the first and second toe with one thumb which rubbing the top of the foot between the fourth and the fifth toe with the other, relieves pain of the inner ear and the chest.
* Massaging the inner and outer edges of the foot is beneficial to the diaphragm.
* Pushing and massaging the soft spot beneath the anklebone reduces the pain from the sciatic nerve and stimulates the lymphatic system to cleanse the body of bacteria and toxins.
* Enfolding and rotating the toes achieves overall relaxation and a sense of well-being.
* With so much pressing, massaging, rolling, gyrating, pulling, stretching and stroking; all the soft tissues of the foot itself become relaxed and invigorated.

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RISKS OF MASSAGE THERAPY

By and large, massage therapy that is performed by a properly schooled and well experienced massage therapist who practices his or her art prudently and with due caution, is risk free to its recipients health and wellbeing. For that reason along, if for no other, massage therapists must be selected very carefully as credentials and licenses are scrutinized meticulously, references are checked with diligence and questions are asked relentlessly. Regardless of how it is phrased or worded, one question which must always be asked of a potential massage therapist is the following, Which health conditions would you consider preclusive of massage therapy and why? And the correct answer, whether stated in exactly those words or different ones, should be, There are certain health conditions which must rule out massage therapy and those are And he or she must name the following:

* Cancer. Massage therapy comes in different forms which affect the body differently. There are also many different types of cancers and patients may be at different stages and receiving different treatments. In some cases and certain types of massage therapy may lead to life threatening results while in other cases with another type of massage therapy the results may be extraordinarily beneficial. Because of such complexity, it is essential to consult with the medical provider who knows the particulars of the case in question before proceeding with a massage therapy of any kind.

The potential risks involved in performing massage therapy on cancer patients do not inevitably discard the entire concept of massage therapy but it does mean that extra caution must be practiced and, perhaps, moderate to extreme alteration of the treatment is in order. And the health risks are the following:

– Fractures of bones. Certain forms of cancer and their treatments weaken bones to the extent that they can easily break under pressure.

– Bleeding. Many cancer patients have the tendency to bleed easily. Deep tissue massage can cause dangerous internal bleeding.

– Spreading of cancerous tumors. There is an ongoing debate about the effects of massage therapy on tumors. Some claim that applying vigorous pressure to the area where the tumor is present will cause it to metastasis (break down and to spread or to increase its rate of growth). Others, however, deny that claim as unsubstantiated and untrue. It is best to play it safe and not massage the tumor region or its surrounding soft tissues.

– Lymphedema (the buildup of lymph in soft tissue which leads to swelling of the limbs). Certain types of massage therapy in patients who have had their lymph nodes removed due to cancer may lead to lymphedema.

– Flu-like symptoms. Patients who are going through chemotherapy can often develop symptoms which look and feel like the flu after having been treated to certain types of massage therapy.

– Pain. Cancer patients frequently suffer a great deal of pain and most massage therapy techniques can result in some temporary pain immediately after the treatment. That may translate to added pain when too much of it is already present and that can be quite literally unbearable.

* Post-surgery. Shortly after surgery, the wound is still in the process of healing visually on the surface of the skin as well as internally. Applying pressure to the site may cause a series of risky health problems such as reopening the incision, trigger internal and/or external bleeding or blood clotting, and so on.

* Skin conditions. Areas where the skin is infected, inflamed or covered with rashes or sores should not be massaged as it can lead to worsening of the condition.

Even when taking into account all the risks which have been mentioned above, massage therapy can still be very beneficial to most people in most situations. Rather than discounting it completely due to specific concerns, I would advise consulting a physician.

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Detox- Cleansing the Body Inside Out

Detoxification has been a lengthy discussion ever since. Whether to detox or not, is up to you.

Even though you are ‘healthy’ this does not mean that you don’t need to detox. Sure our body does this on a continual basis, our kidneys and livers are constantly working by cleaning out all the pollutants (smoke, caffeine, chemical-based products etc) in our body. Detox strengthen our organs back to optimal function.

Basically, this is done through fasting, therefore resting the organs and stimulating the liver by pushing away the toxins from the body. Nourishing the body with healthy nutrients is also done to maintain optimum health. It has been practiced for centuries around the world by different cultures.

Although a lot of people want whole body detoxification, some wants to have a detox on a particular organ only, such as the kidney, liver or colon. During kidney cleansing, herbal supplements and juices are used to dissolve and wash out kidney stones; particular foods are consumed in liver cleansing causing the gall bladder and liver to remove fatty deposits and toxins out of the body. Colon cleansing on the other hand, gently flushes the colon with water providing a pathway for the release of toxins.

There are also techniques used in whole body cleansing such as:

Fasting. Water or juice fasting is applied for a period of time to lessen toxic loads in the body causing the body to heal itself and nourish inside out.

Parasite cleaning. Right amount of pills or tinctures made out of bitter herbs are consumed to build an unreceptive environment for the parasites inside the body.

Contrast Shower. The contrast among hot and cold water enhances circulation, helps in detoxifying thus having a stronger immune system. This also helps by bringing oxygen, nutrients and immune cells towards damaged and stressed tissue and flushes metabolic waste and other toxins.

Sauna, yoga, exercise, raw food dieting and dry skin brushing also enhance the body’s natural cleansing process.

Other Detoxifying aids

There are a number of safe products that helps in the cleansing process such as cleansing supplement packages (with easy-to-follow instructions), detox foot patches, commercially prepared detox teas, Epsom salts, high-class multivitamins for daily intake and antioxidants like Q10 and E that can be found at health food stores.

Before and after side effects:

As the procedures differ, so do the benefits.

During the detox, you’ll most likely feel the side effects that take place during the first few days such as headaches, feeling weak, sore muscles, cranky moods and unable to sleep soundly.

There are also a number of positive side effects days after the cleansing process. You will feel energetic, mental clarity improved, skin is clearer, improved sleep, and have a positive attitude in life for a fresh start.

Detoxification is safe and beneficial for our health. It is suggested that each one should at least have a short detoxification program yearly. However, children, nursing mothers, and patients with cancer, chronic degenerative illness and tuberculosis should consult their physician first for approval and supervision or find someone who is familiar with detox.

If you decide to award your body with holiday, find a nutritional therapist who is familiar with detox.

Here’s how:

You can call your friends who are into health foods and alternative medicines, ask them for a person who they can refer. Another way is to search in the yellow pages under nutrition or by looking for ads in health publication in your locality. Get the name of someone you found whose name appears in more than one place and check for his profile, like from which school he/she attended the training and if it’s an accredited one. Also ask how long he’s been in practice.