An Overview of
Massage and manipulative therapies are one of the major areas of alternative and complementary medicine (CAM).
There are a number of different disciplines, each of them with their own philosophy and practices. Most have been
shown to have some positive effects in pain control, relaxation, mood control and general well-being. Specific
massage therapies have also shown benefits that may be related to the relief of stress, or may be due to an unknown
factor affected by the massage. In most of these therapies, the unknown factor is some form of ‘life force’ which
the therapy frees from a blockage.
We've included a list of some of the most popular forms of massage therapy, accompanied with a brief description
of any important or unique features.
The most well-known and accepted of the manipulative therapies, chiropractic has nearly become a mainstream therapy
for the relief of pain, particularly with conditions related to the spine. Chiropractors work with far more than
just back pain, and there is evidence to support the use of chiropractic for a diverse number of conditions.
Pronounced ray-kay, Reiki is a Japanese massage therapy that incorporates elements from many other alternative
healing practices. It's based on the existence of a universal life energy transferred from healer to patient
during massage and manipulation. Reiki is a holistic system of healing and massage is only one element of the
practice, however it’s the element that's most commonly associated with Reiki. Like therapeutic touch and other
hands on therapies, Reiki claims to balance the flow of life force and energies in the body, and treat mind,
body and spirit at once.
As with other Oriental systems, the Indian Ayurvedic medicine puts emphasis on massage as a therapeutic technique.
In Ayurveda, the emphasis is on opening channels to allow the flow of energy and life force throughout the
Combining the principles of treatment with essential oils and the techniques of massage, aromatherapy massage is
often used as an adjunct to conventional medical treatment. Depending on the oils and techniques used, the massage
can be relaxing, soothing, invigorating or energizing.
A Western massage therapy that seems to borrow from Eastern beliefs and techniques, reflexology is based on the
manipulation of areas of the feet, hands and ears to effect therapeutic changes elsewhere in the body.
A distinct field of massage that is aimed at improving sports performance and preventing injury, sports massage is
practiced in locker rooms and hospitals.
A Japanese massage therapy that uses pressure points similar to acupressure massage to assist the flow of qi and
promote healing in the body. Massage therapy is being used in some novel ways throughout the country. Besides being
used as treatment for muscle and back pain, to promote relaxation and healing, there are some companies that offer
massage as a work-related benefit, and believe that it prevents workplace accidents and injuries through stress
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