Human touch is one of the most primal needs. Research has demonstrated that touch can enhance health and heal the body and mind (Freeman, 2009). As health care evolves and integrates the worlds of alternative and allopathic practitioners, therapeutic massage and bodywork healing methods are being integrated with health care in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice centers, and other healthcare facilities.
Techniques for massage and bodywork vary among practitioners; however, the objectives are similar: to relax; soothe; stimulate; and relieve physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual discomfort (Delany, 2015).
Trivieri and Anderson (2002) define the term bodywork as "therapies such as massage, deep tissue manipulation, movement awareness, and bioenergetic therapies, which are employed to improve the structure and functioning of the body" (p. 119). They add that the benefits of bodywork include pain reduction, musculoskeletal tension relief, improved blood, and lymphatic circulation, and the promotion of deep relaxation.
Massage is soft tissue manipulation, including holding, causing movement, and/or applying pressure to the body. In general, massage therapists press, rub and manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. They usually use their hands and fingers but may also use their forearms, elbow, or feet (National
Center for Complementary and Integrative Health [NCCIH], 2018).
Massage has a complex and extensive history, with over 75 different types of massage and bodywork therapies. First practiced over 5,000 years ago in China and Mesopotamia, massage is a therapy that applies manual techniques and may apply additional alternative and complementary therapies with the intent to positively affect an individual's health. One of the oldest forms of health practice, massage is derived from the Arabic, Gr
eek, Hindi, and French words associated with touch, pressing, or shampooing (NCCIH, 2018).
Both the Bible and the Koran refer to anointing the skin with oil. Various techniques were used in Japanese and Middle Easter
n cultures as part of their health and hygiene routines and by the Greeks and Romans when preparing their soldiers and gladiators for battle.
During the Middle Ages, religious dogma and superstition regarded massage as sinful because it was related to physical and emotional pleasure. The massage was introduced to the United States from Europe in 1879, and nurses and physiotherapists used to massage on injured soldiers during both World Wars.
Although the techniques for massage and bodywork vary among practitioners, the objectives are similar: to relax, soothe, stimulate, and relieve physical, mental, emotional, and/or spiritual discomfort (Jackson & Latini, 2013). Touching and stroking are important to the health of infants, children, and adults. Regular massage improves overall health, eases tension in muscles, promotes circulation of the blood, and stimulates lymphatic drainage to encoura
ge the elimination of waste from the body.
Most bodywork practitioners employ a combination of bodywork methods. Swedish massage, reflexology, shiatsu, sports massage, and Rolfing are some examples of massage and bodywork modalities used to promote general relaxation, relieve muscle tension, and improve circulation and range of motion.