Massage therapy is an ancient form of treatment. Modern day physiotherapy possesses a wide range of knowledge on the subject, gained from different cultures who employed it as a method of healing.
Texts exist that show the Chinese knew about the benefits of touch and massage in the year 3000 A.D. They were the first, but certainly not the only ones: the Hellenic culture, the Egyptians, the Romans and the Hindus all developed, in their own way, different massage techniques throughout history. The modalities of modern massage that we enjoy today derive from the knowledge acquired from these ancient civilisations.
Nowadays there are many scientific studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of massage as a therapeutic tool.
It consists of the application of a controlled force onto a specified area of the body in order to work on a tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, joint...) and as such, normal function and health are regained.
As the term implies, massage therapy is a technique aimed at treating a lesion. It should therefore only be carried out by a physiotherapist who is a trained healthcare practitioner with official University training. In Spain, physiotherapists are the only professionals able to carry out massage therapy according to the Ordination Law of Healthcare Professions. Law 44/2003 of 21st November).
From a preventative viewpoint, massage is able to alleviate physical discomfort -- muscular and rheumatic pain, cramps... and free up the mental tension caused by stress.
Stress leads to an increase in muscular tension, especially in the back. This tension can become irritating and even painful over time, leaving the individual feeling bad and increasing the sensation of stress, resulting in a vicious cycle. Therefore, massage plays an important role as a preventative measure.
The benefits of massage are perceived both on a physical and mental level:
For sportsmen and women, massage is not only necessary when there is a lesion, but also as a method of preventing lesions by eliminating muscle tension which, left untreated, could escalate into cramps or inflammation (e.g. tendinitis)