Massage therapy, technically, is the act of manipulating connective tissue (tendons and ligaments) and muscle for the purpose of enhancing blood flow, reducing tension, promoting healing, improving relaxation, and encouraging healing.
In order to practice in New York State, a Massage Therapist must have graduated from a massage therapy program registered by the New York State Education Department. The institute or school of Massage Therapy must have provided a minimum of 1,000 in specific course work, including, physiology, anatomy, neurology, kinesiology, hygiene, and pathology.
The Massage Therapist must also have learned CPR, infection control and techniques, first aid, and the practice of Western and Asian massage. The Massage Therapist must have also practiced at least 150 hours on people.
New York License Requirements
The Massage Therapist must also be licensed, which means they must have passed the New York State Massage Therapy Examination. If the Message Therapist was licensed another country, territory, or state, they must have practiced Massage Therapy for at least two years. Or, if the Massage Therapist passed the licensure exam in another country, territory, or state, such must also be acceptable to the State Board of Massage Therapy and satisfactory to the New York State Education Department.
History of Massage Therapy
The Chinese text, The Yellow Emperor's Classic Book of Internal Medicine, which dates back to 2700 BCE recommends massage and is still used as a guidebook today. Egyptians tomb paintings dating back 2500 BCE reveal that massage was utilized in their medical routines. Egyptians are also recognized for founding reflexology.
While India’s first written massage therapies first appeared between 1500 and 500 BCE, it is believed their practice began as far back as 3000 BCE. Hindus used touch for healing as part of Ayurvedic medicine. In Sanskrit, Ayurvedic means “life science” or “life health” and is recognized as the root of holistic medicine, which combines relaxation, meditation, and aromatherapy.
In the United States, during Colonial times (around the 1700s), surgeons hired people, mostly women, knows as “rubbers” to assist with patients post surgical rehabilitation and with the management of joint disease and “lameness.” The rubbers added joint movements to their massage and were able to get lame patients walking once again.
In the 1850s, therapists trained by Swedish Physician, Per Henril Ling at the Royal Central Institute in Sweden, came to the United States to treat illnesses and injuries, prevent diseases, and promote well-being. The Swedish method was both holistic and scientific. It was also based on the harmony of body, spirit, and mind, and theorized that movement overwhelmingly affected the whole body in preserving or reestablishing health.
The therapists Ling trained essentially laid the foundation for what became the future profession of massage therapy, including sports and deep tissue massage. And, his system, known as “Swedish Massage” is most commonly used in the United States today.
Factors to Consider
There are many different types of massage therapy and there are certain factors to consider before one decides which massage to undergo. Certain types of massage are trendier at certain times. So, is the latest fad effective and is it the type for which they should opt? They should also consider why they are seeking massage. Do they need relief for a particular symptom or are they seeking stress relief? Do they want to ease a particular symptom or do they want to improve a certain health condition?
They should also think about the Massage Therapist’s methods. Certain Massage Therapists use lotions and oils, while others don’t. A lot of massage therapists ask clients to undress, while some do not. Some massages can be as short as five minutes or as long as two hours. Clients should always let their Massage Therapist know their needs as many know more than one style and are willing to customize the massage.
Types of Massage Therapy
There are over 200 different kinds of massages, each of which treats different needs and offers numerous advantages. The most popular include:
Depending upon the therapist, a Swedish Massage can either be brisk and stimulating or slow and mild. It strives to relax the entire body and involves soft, extended, rubbing strokes, as well as light, periodic, tapping strokes, on the upper layers of muscles along with joint movement. Along with easing muscle tension, Swedish Massage is both relaxing and invigorating and can even be beneficial after an injury. Chronic or more intense pain may require a series of massages to experience results.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage is a more intense form of Swedish Massage and is recommended for providing specific attention to particular sore, and stiff areas of their body. The massage therapist uses deliberately slow strokes that concentrate pressure on soft tissue (muscle, tendons, ligaments). It is less rhythmic, very specific, and therapists often use their elbows and knuckles. It’s admittedly invasive, but millions swear by it. Athletes and those undergoing physical therapy especially like Deep Tissue Massage as it helps in the breakdown of scar tissue.
Sports Massage Therapy is generally focused toward athletes, but of every kind, from professionals to the weekend jogger. The methods are specific to each sport and the message focuses on the part of the body that is strained from repetition, overuse, and aggressive motions.
Sports Massage Therapy is also used to prepare athletes for events in order to boost their performance and to also minimize recovery. Athletes have found that certain, regular Sports Massage lessens fatigue, increases flexibility, helps avoid injury, improves endurance, and readies the mind and body for top performance.
Shiatsu is a type of Japanese Massage where the Massage Therapist applies pressure with their thumbs, hands, elbows, knees or feet. The pressure is then applied in a rhythmic succession on acupuncture highpoints. With this method, each point is maintained for a few seconds in order to help the body reclaim equilibrium and advance the stream of energy.
People are sometimes pleasantly surprised when they undergo Shiatsu. The pressure is steady but soothing and there is no tenderness afterward.
As like Shiatsu, Thai Massage adjusts the body’s energies using gentle specific point pressure, but instead of rubbing on soft tissue, the body is compressed, pulled, stretched and rocked. The Massage Therapist may pull toes, ears, and fingers and may also crack knuckles and walk on the back. As well, the Massage Therapist manipulates and stretches the body into a series of yoga-like postures. Thai Massage decreases stress, increases the range of motion and flexibility, and is also more stimulating than other kinds of massage and is a good choice for those who wish to be active after their massage.
Chair Massages are usually offered at conferences, fairs, or festivals and last about fifteen to twenty minutes. As the title suggests, the client sits in a specially designed chair, face forward and the Message Therapists usually provides a massage of the neck, shoulders, back, arms, and hands. There are some negatives to this kind of massage - it can be distracting, as it’s usually done in a public area and such takes away some of the relaxing effects. On the other hand, the client does not have to remove any clothing and the massage effectively releases all the tension from the upper body.
Pregnancy or Prenatal Massage
Pregnancy or Prenatal Massage is becoming increasingly popular and is specifically used to lessen swelling, reduce stress, diminish anxiety and depression, and relieve aches and pains for the expectant mother. It is also is customized to each woman’s individual needs.
Reflexology Foot Massage
Reflexology or Foot Massage is really more than just a simple foot rub. It incorporates the application of pressure to specific points on the foot that correlate to the body’s organs and systems. It is extremely relaxing, particularly for people who have tired, sore feet or stand on their feet all day. It is also thought that Reflexology Foot Massage has amazing healing powers that ease headaches, chronic fatigue, insomnia, and dizziness and may also treat the underlying causes of diseases such heart, kidney, and liver disease, and high blood pressure.
Hot Stone Massage
Hot Stone Massage, as the name suggests, is a type of therapy where warmed stones are placed on the body. The stones are typically river rocks or another flat, smooth surface rock, which maintains heat during the massage. The heat warms tight muscles and allows the Massage Therapist to work more quickly and more intensely and also provides relaxation.