Massage Therapy vs. Energy Medicine
Difference Between Massage Therapy And Energy Medicine
The use of touch to heal and soothe probably extends back to prehistoric times. It has been a valued tradition and an important part of health care (both preventative and rehabilitative) in much of the world, and has recently gained considerable respect in the United States.
Massage therapy involves the kneading and stroking of a person’s skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Once thought to be simply a “feel-good” indulgence, massage therapy is now recognized as having therapeutic qualities. During a massage, muscles relax, circulation increases, and endorphins—the body’s natural painkillers—are released. Massage also helps speed the passage of waste products, which can contribute to soreness, and brings more oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. It is beneficial in relieving stress-related symptoms, back and other musculoskeletal pain, and in maintaining overall health. Many people also find added psychological benefits from being touched.
Massage has been particularly touted by the sports-medicine field. It is useful for warming up muscles, preventing injury, and increasing an athlete’s performance. Post-event massage prevents stiffness and can be used for injury rehabilitation. This type of massage differs slightly from general massage in that it focuses on specific muscles and is usually quite vigorous.
Massage is not recommended for people with cardiac problems, certain skin and circulatory conditions, some types of cancer, and recent fractures or sprains.
Though often considered a single category, “energy medicine” contains two very different forms of treatment. Putative energy therapy refers to the thousands-of-years-old practice of manipulating the energy field that is believed to encompass the body. Veritable energy treatments rely on energy sources outside of the body—such as sound and light—to treat certain illnesses.
Though putative methods have a long history, there have been little data that show their effectiveness. The best-known and most-studied of these practices is acupuncture (discussed above). Others include Qi gong (a Chinese system that combines movement, meditation, and breathing exercises), and the Japanese forms of healing touch known as Reiki and Johrei.
In contrast, many veritable energy techniques have been shown to be effective and repeatable in multiple studies. Sound energy treatment relies on music and other noise that resonates with the frequencies of the body’s organs. Its effectiveness in affecting blood pressure was documented as early as the late 1920s, and it has also been used to combat pain. Light therapy uses artificial or natural light to combat mood problems, such as seasonal affective disorder. Magnetic therapy, which has not been proven effective, employs static magnets to stimulate the microvessels of skeletal muscle, an approach designed to relieve pain.