About massage

Massage comprises a variety of techniques that manipulate the soft tissues, especially the muscles.

Massage can soothe and relax muscles, reducing stress. It can also stimulate part or all of the body. The circulation is improved, as is digestion and waste removal.

Instinctively we rub an area of the body that has been hurt. Massage can be seen as an extension of this urge.

Massage has been around for thousands of years.

The word 'massage' originates from a number of languages: for example, the word 'massa', meaning 'that which forms a lump'. 'Massage' is therefore concerned with reducing the lump and making the tissues smooth.

In Greek, 'massein' means 'to knead' (a massage technique); 'masser' is French for 'rub' - essential in massage; and 'mass' in Arabic means 'to touch' - again, at the heart of massage.

The earliest mention of massage is in China, 5000 years ago, known as amma. The ancient Japanese tsubo technique - developing into shiatsu - was based on amma.

Massage is also part of ancient Indian ayurvedic medicine, while in Ancient Greece, 5th century BC physician Herodicus and his pupil, Hippocrates, taught that all doctors should know massage.

The Romans, too, used massage for stiff muscles and joints…Julius Caesar, himself, had a massage every day!

What is sports massage?

Sports massage uses a combination of Swedish massage techniques and more advanced techniques - such as Neuromuscular Techniques, Myofascial Release and Soft Tissue Release - to realign, reduce tension in, or stretch the soft tissues, thereby aiding the recovery of damaged muscle tissue, restoring mobility and helping to reduce the possibility of future injuries.

Regular massage can also help the athlete to check the effects of their training programme. Modern sports massage has been internationally-known since the 1924 Olympics when Paavo Nurmi claimed it helped him win his 5 gold medals.

Swedish massage techniques have been well-established since the 1800s, when Per Henrik Ling developed them and ensured that they became accepted internationally.

Sports massage is not only for sports people but for anyone who wants to improve their level of health and fitness.

What is Swedish massage?

Swedish Massage was developed by Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839), a Swedish physiologist and sword fencing master. He created the five basic moves of Swedish Massage:

a) effleurage - a soothing, stroking movement, used at the beginning and end of a treatment, which aims to relax muscles and improve circulation;

b) petrissage - a kneading and rubbing movement where the hand or fingers break down tension;

c) friction - a rubbing movement, where tissue is compressed against the bone, usually on a small area of tightness;

d) percussion - rapid movements that stimulate and invigorate the muscles such as 'hacking', the familiar chopping movements associated with Swedish Massage;

e) vibration - a brisk side-to-side or up-and-down movement to help tremble and shake the muscle to release tension and tightness.

Massage is now recognised as a powerful method of helping people to cope with the stresses and tensions of life, rather than simply a form of personal pampering. In effect, it is seen as a mainstream technique of improving health.

Why is Fascia so important?

Fascia is the soft tissue part of the connective tissue system: it pervades the human body, providing structural support in a three-dimensional manner. It penetrates, separates, binds and surrounds all organs, muscles, bones and nerve fibres. The Fascia is what gives a person their shape and resiliency.

Although it is not fully understood, fascia has been receiving much more attention in the last 15-20 years from researchers and therapists, as they investigate how it affects the way our muscles and skeletons work.

Therapists and researchers working on fascia realise that not all treatments need to be deep, due to fascia being at both superficial and deep levels of the body and the way it affects different muscular systems. An increasing number of therapists are now treating the fascia in order to help the muscles, tendons and fibres move properly and without pain.