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Massage Therapy as Alternative Medicine

Updated on August 22, 2016
Austinstar profile image

L. Cargill, B.A., Sam Houston University, Huntsville, TX., has been writing cool and interesting articles for the internet world since 1995.

Thai Massage

Thai style relaxation massage.
Thai style relaxation massage. | Source

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage is manipulating muscles and connective tissues to enhance the health and well being of the person or animal receiving the massage. Massage can be deep tissue or a soothing light touch.

One of the biggest overlooked benefits of massage is the improvement in our body's largest organ, the skin. The skin covers and contains our entire corporeal body. We absorb many elements through the skin as well as sweat out impurities. By protecting and nourishing the skin, we are receiving benefits to our whole body.

Massaging the muscles also improves the exchange of beneficial oxygen to the tissues. If our muscles are overworked there is a build up of lactic acid. Massage helps increase circulation which will remove this acid.

About Massage Therapy

What are the benefits of Massage therapy?

  1. Relaxation is probably the number one benefit of massage because stress and tenseness tend to cause pain and stiffness in our muscles.
  2. Massage increases the ability of the muscles to move. Inactivity and paralysis can decrease the range of motion for a body. Massage makes the muscles flexible again.
  3. Chronic pain is relieved through massage. The nerve bundles we call "trigger points" are released during muscle manipulation.
  4. Blood pressure is reduced during a massage which means the heart gets to rest a bit.
  5. A daily or weekly moisturizing massage will enhance skin tone and nourish this important organ.
  6. The mental benefits of massage therapy are substantial. These benefits include: reducing mental stress, improving concentration, providing restful sleep and helping with tension headaches.

Types of Massage Therapy

Commonly Used Massage Techniques:

  • Swedish Massage
  • Sports Therapy
  • Deep Tissue Massage
  • Aromatherapy during a massage
  • Neuromuscular Therapy
  • Prenatal Massage
  • Reiki and Shiatsu
  • Relaxation
  • Equine and other animal massage
  • Asian and Thai Massage
  • Accupuncture and Accupressure muscle manipulation
  • Medical Massage
  • Lymphatic Drainage
  • Reflexology

Medical Massage

Many medical doctors are now prescribing massage therapy as a medical treatment. Sports doctors have known for some time that massage can drastically improve an athlete's performance. When the skin, muscles and connective tissues are smooth and supple, the body tends to be more relaxed and responsive.

One of the most common and persistent ailments in the human form is low back pain. Our spines are not completely evolved enough to support walking upright. Our back muscles must support the spine. The spinal column also protects large nerve fibers and when the spine is misaligned or collapsed, the bone and cartilage of the spine actually puts pressure on these nerves causing pain.

Medical massage for low back pain is designed to support the muscles, nerves and fibers surrounding the spine. This improves the muscle tone of those large muscle groups so they can better support the spinal column.

Myofascial release is another massage technique for relief of "trigger point" pain. In this type of malady a bundle of nerve endings are caught in a muscle spasm that will not release itself. Gentle massage is great for bringing a fresh blood flow and removing the built up lactic acid.

People suffering with muscle spasms, muscle damage and paralysis and stress can all substantially benefit from medical massage therapies. When hydrotherapy is included, the results are even more significant.

Muscle Massage

Muscle groups of the body
Muscle groups of the body | Source


A map of the pressure points in Reflexology of the feet.
A map of the pressure points in Reflexology of the feet. | Source

Foot Massage

Massage therapists will tell you that if your feet hurt, your whole body will hurt. The science of reflexology massage is based on this empirical evidence.

There is some science behind it. It is true that there are many nerve endings in the feet. The feet are sensitive to touch. If you have had even a small pebble in your shoe, you know exactly how sensitive your feet are.

Some people swear by reflexology and massage classes are available to teach this one discipline. As you can see from the foot map in the photo, all organs and major muscle groups have nerve endings in the feet.

The theory behind reflexology (and by association accupuncture and accupressure) is that stimulation or desensitization of these nerve endings will help the associated organ of the body.

Alternative Remedies

Massage therapy should be considered as a viable alternative medical treatment for any condition affecting the nerves, muscles, joints and connective tissues. As many medicinal treatments can be absorbed through the skin, massage should also be considered for a delivery method of certain medications.

Aspirin is well received through the skin and will reduce swelling and inflammation of the affected area. Aspirin in a cream or lotion can be applied by gentle rubbing. This not only helps the injury, but saves irritation of the stomach, the alternative way to absorb aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medicines.

Simply applying moisturizing agents via massage to the skin is a good remedy for many skin problems. Dry skin is unhealthy and cannot absorb beneficial agents from the air and water.

There are some medications that work best through massage type applications. Some carrier agents, such as DMSO, have been found to have the ability of penetrating the skin without damage and carrying drugs along with the application. Anti-fungals work well with this method.

How to do Foot Massage

Alternative Medicine

Do you use massage as a medical treatment?

See results

© 2012 Lela

Comments - How has massage helped you?

Submit a Comment
  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    A great deal of health problems can be solved with massage. I hope you continue to get them for years to come.

  • TeachableMoments profile image


    6 years ago from California

    Thanks for a very informative hub. During my pregnancy I suffered greatly from an old back injury. Nothing seemed to work. Then my husband booked an appointment for a prenatal massage. It was the best gift ever. Massage therapy heals the mind and body, sometimes even better than traditional remedies. Thanks for the useful information.

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    You are welcome, Carol. Massage works sometimes when other treatments fail. Enjoy!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    You are welcome, Carol. Massage works sometimes when other treatments fail. Enjoy!

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    6 years ago from Arizona

    This is a great and thorough hub about massage therapy. Love the pictures to explain everything. Especially reflexology. Thanks for sharing all this information. Voted UP.

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    COO! That is excellent. I voted up!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Om, you are backwards to most folks! Almost everyone, including myself, are ticklish on their feet. Oh well, enjoy the foot massages!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    6 years ago

    Nice hub! My grandma used to hire a masseuse to come to our house and give her a full-body massage once a week. She was addicted to it, I think. For me, I only like foot massages since my feet are the only non-ticklish spots in my body. A full-body massage would just make me giggle to death! lol

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Another fact I have learned is that the massage therapist will derive benefits from doing a massage. The movements are a great form of exercise.

    Enjoy getting and giving massages. It really is great!

  • Ruchira profile image


    6 years ago from United States

    i totally agree with ya, austinstar. massages have helped tremendously and i can vouch for it myself.

    I use it myself on others and can see the effect once they smile :)

    many votes !

  • shara63 profile image


    6 years ago from Delhi

    useful information...Ayuvedic massage therapy of Kerala in India is also very poplar and practised all over! thankyou!

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    6 years ago from south Florida

    I was working as an Executive Coach for an international cruise line and Bangkok was one of the destinations. Ah, those were the days. Maybe bargain-rate massages will be available when you visit Cancun.

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Ok, but what were you doing in Bangkok? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    6 years ago from south Florida

    I had the best one-hour massage of my entire life, Lela, in Bangkok. And the price was right, too. $2.00. That was some time ago so now the cost is probably $3.00! :)

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    I hope they have Mayan massage in Cancun! I want one.

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    It has been way too long since I have gotten a massage! My doctor wrote a script for me to get one 1 x each week for like 2 months - I felt like a queen! I miss that.

    It is so beneficial - this is one of the best natural ways to maintenance the body I believe. It is great to stimulate blood and all that tissue. I love the smell of the aromatherapy oils too! Heaven!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Improved circulation is just one of the benefits of massage. Do give it a go, Christopher.

  • christopheranton profile image

    Christopher Antony Meade 

    6 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

    I've never tried massage but I certainly have enough aches and pains. Maybe I should give it a go. Improving circulation would be a great plus.

    Thanks for all the useful info.

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    As long as you keep learning, Josh, you are still living so keep it up. Yes, do get a massage, your skin and muscles will love you. Try a chair massage for your neck and shoulders. It feels soooo goooood!

  • josh3418 profile image

    Joshua Zerbini 

    6 years ago from Pennsylvania


    Ok two major things that I learned here! Kinda serious and kinda funny, LOL

    1. I need to get a massage, because I have never gotten one, and from what I just read, I guess I need one! and

    2. I have learned some rather big words, that if made sense in everyday language, I would use in my conversations!

    LOL, Great hub, very informative Austinstar! Just figured I would give you a laugh as well! :)

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    I need to go get a massage too. It's been too long.

  • MarleneB profile image

    Marlene Bertrand 

    6 years ago from USA

    I used massage on my daughters when they were babies. When they would become cranky I'd give them a bath and then a massage. It was great. Now, I wish someone would give me a massage when I get cranky. :)

  • Rosyel Sawali profile image

    Rosyel Sawali 

    6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

    I love massages and the relaxing feeling after one. Your Hub reminded me I'm in need of one ^_^ Thanks for sharing!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the center of Texas

    Oh for sure! There is a new massage therapy designed just for infants and children now. And prenatal massages also benefit the baby before it is born.

    Geriatric massage couldn't be bad for us either :-)

  • chrissieklinger profile image


    6 years ago from Pennsylvania

    Many people don't realize that your skin is an organ and needs attention. I think massages are good for everyone even before you start to have health problems.


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