Massage therapy is defined as the manipulation of soft tissues of the body to promote optimal muscle function, relaxation, and localized blood flow.
There are three basic principles of clinical massage therapy:
- The individual is a whole organism: everything is connected and related.
- Shortened muscle can do no work.
- The soft tissues of the body respond to touch.
Often, when a muscle is shortened, it feels tight and can cause the individual pain. One theory is that many of these chronically shorted muscles are that way because of a feedback circuit in the nervous system. In other words, the nervous system perpetually tells that muscle to stay tight because of pain it feels somewhere else or to make up for a postural misalignment. Touch is thought to interrupt this message and restore normal muscular function. In massage therapy, the therapist uses specific techniques and strokes to manipulate muscles and connective tissue to encourage such an interruption of these signals. When the muscle lengthens (or relaxes), this will effect a change in the level of pain experienced in the individual.
It is important to note that massage/bodywork should not be construed as a substitute for medical examination, diagnosis, or treatment, and that you should seek a physician, chiropractor, or other qualified medical specialist for any mental or physical ailment of which you are aware. Massage/bodywork practitioners are not qualified to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any physical or mental illness.