Traditional Natural Medicine Massage Therapy

Massage and touch therapy are 4,000-year-old healing practices with references to massage therapy in the histories of China, Arabia, Egypt, India, Greece, and Rome.

Massage therapy uses the fingers, hands, fists, and sometimes even the feet to work on the body’s soft tissues: the skin, the muscles, and the tendons. Often, essential oils are massaged into the skin to aid in relaxation and stress reduction.

Most types of touch therapy have few side effects. People who learn massage techniques can use touch therapy to improve their own health, that of family members, and even of their pets. Massage therapy must be performed properly, however, as soft tissue manipulation may cause serious injuries.

Benefits of Touch Therapy

Massage and touch therapy have immediate benefits. Although massage and touch therapy do not cure health conditions, they have been shown to improve overall quality of life and well-being. Massage therapy can help with:

  • anxiety
  • circulation stimulation
  • depression
  • immune function
  • relaxation
  • stress reduction.

Healing Touch Therapy

Healing touch is a specific type of touch therapy that has been used to improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Healing touch has been shown to reduce stress and help with pain management.

The therapy uses a gentle hand motion either on or above the skin to “smooth” the body’s energy field. During a touch therapy session, patients often relax so completely that they fall asleep.

Healing touch therapy creates a relaxed environment in which the patient can feel safe and at ease. In addition to pain management, the relaxation and stress relief brought about by healing touch therapy may stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms.

Types of Massage and Touch Therapy

Touch therapy and massage therapy come in many different forms, from the gentleness of healing touch to the deep, intense massage known as Rolfing. Depending on the type of touch therapy used, essential oils may be massaged into the skin, warmth may be used to relax muscles or calming music played to facilitate relaxation.

Specific types of massage therapy include:

  • Craniosacral massage: This type of touch therapy focuses on the head and spine, with the intent of clearing “blockages” in the spinal cord.
  • Deep massage: Deep massage therapy uses heavy hand motions to reach deep muscles.
  • Neuromuscular massage: Also known as trigger point therapy, neuromuscular massage focuses on muscle pain, using deep massage to work on painfully tense areas.
  • Reflexology: Reflexology uses hands to apply pressure to points on the feet with the intent of healing and balancing the body’s vital energy (chi or qi). Reflexology is similar in nature to acupressure and acupuncture.
  • Rolfing: Rolfing focuses on manipulating connective tissue and uses strong pressure to massage tissues.
  • Sports massage: This form of touch therapy isolates specific muscles used during athletic events.
  • Swedish massage: One of the most common types of massage therapy, Swedish massage uses long strokes and hand kneading to relax muscle tension. Essential oils may or may not be used.