Does Japanese Massage Really Promote Healing?
Japanese culture, diet, martial arts and healing techniques have been steadily finding a new home throughout Western culture. Japanese massage has been gaining popularity over the past few decades as an effective method of alternative healing. This general term encompasses dozens of different healing modalities. Two of these modalities have become very popular in the world of massage therapy.
The Two Main Types of Japanese Massage
There are two primary modalities with Japanese origins that have gained popularity and acceptance throughout the western world.
1. Shiatsu. Often referred to as acupressure, Shiatsu is a Japanese form of massage that relies on pressure on precise points along the chi meridians. The shiatsu therapist applies pressure on select points throughout the body based on the patient’s pain or health concern. Shiatsu is believed to help promote deep muscle relaxation, improve circulation, calm nervousness and aid in stress relief. Techniques include applied pressure, tapping, rubbing, squeezing and physically stretching the body.
2. Reflexology. Also known as zone therapy, this therapeutic technique involves applying pressure to the feet, neck, head or shoulders. It is believed that the zones correspond to various areas of the body. Applying pressures to these zones will impact the related body area. Reflexology can be used to improve circulation, promote healing and relieve stress. Lines between shiatsu and reflexing will often be blurred during a treatment session as they are closely related.
These two modalities are based upon the same Chinese theory of chi and meridians. . Chi is believed to be the life force than runs through every living organism. When chi is unbalanced or not flowing smoothly, pain and disease can arise. Shiatsu and reflexology seek to restore balance and proper flow to your chi in order to heal any ailments, relieve pain and promote relaxation.
Each modality makes use of different tools and schools of thought based on this overarching principle.
How Does Japanese Massage Promote Healing?
You know what Japanese massage is, how it works and the core theories behind the modalities. Now, for the big question – does it really promote healing?
First, we must examine what healing is. Healing is the natural act of moving from an unbalanced or unhealthy state into a healthy state of being. This process is always going on at some level. However, there are certain times that our healing process is more dominant in our minds. For example, after a major heart attack, car accident or illness you will be chiefly concerned with healing.
The body naturally heals itself. However, it can be assisted with medical invention. While pharmaceuticals have their place, Japanese massage is starting to be realized as an alternative method of treatment for many ailments.
Here are a few ways Japanese massage promotes healing:
Reduced blood pressure and heart rate. A 2008 study [LINK: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18315516?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum] found that volunteers who received massages for 45-60 minutes reduced blood pressure by 10 mg hg and heart rate by 10 beats per minute. All of this after a single treatment! That’s the same typical reduction you can expect from over the counter medication. However, conclusive research has still not been conducted. It may not quite be time to ditch your heart medication, but massage can be a great supplemental treatment. Regularly receiving any type of massage may dramatically reduce your heart rate and lower your blood pressure. This aids in the healing process and helps prevent future heart problems.
Improved chi flow provides numerous benefits. While chi may sound foreign and unscientific, there is research that provides some scientific validity to practices related to chi. For example, one study found that Tai Chi was effective at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol [http://phys.org/news198835017.html]. This same study also indicated that Tai Chi promotes serotonin and endorphin production. Tai Chi was found to increase blood flow and energy levels, as measured as heat, light and electricity. Each of these benefits aids in the healing and disease prevention process. While this particular study was focused on Tai Chi, it does illustrate that practices focused on chi have real health benefits. While some of these benefits may be unique to Tai Chi, both Tai Chi and Japanese massage aim to balance chi and improve overall energy flow. Here’s an in depth report [http://www.qigonginstitute.org/html/papers/TheScienceBehindTaiChiandChiGong.pdf] about why exercises based on improve chi flow are effective.
Improved cardiovascular function. Numerous studies have shown [http://legacy.uspharmacist.com/index.asp?show=article&page=8_1211.htm] that traditional Chinese medicinal treatment is effective at improving a patient’s overall cardiovascular functionality. Traditional Chinese medicine, including herbal and lifestyle based treatments, has effectively improved the quality of life for sufferers of cardiovascular problems. Japanese massage and healing modalities are based on the same theories that set the foundation for Chinese medicine. Shiatsu and reflexology can both be used to improve cardiovascular function by promotion healthy chi flow.
Should You Pursue Japanese Massage?
If you are currently exploring alternative healing treatments, Japanese massage is a wonderful, low risk and enjoyable option to explore. Shiatsu and reflexology are both non-invasive and most patients report feeling outstanding after treatment.
However, if you are currently healing from a specific event, such as a car accident, please discuss receiving any type of treatment with your physician. You are likely on a strict recovery program and you should ensure Japanese treatment fits in with your program.
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