Massage has been around for millennia. Ever since people recognized aches, pains and tightness, there has been some type of massage.

Archaeological evidence of massage has been found in many ancient civilizations including Egypt, China, Mesopotamia, Greece, India, Rome, Persia, Thailand, Japan and Korea. Massage in more modern times developed in Sweden, France and Netherlands then into the United States.

There are many types of massage, but ultimately it means working on the muscular and connective tissue systems with pressure, tension, motion or vibration. The pressure can be light or heavy.

Massage can be divided into two major groups: clinical and spa massage. Clinical massage therapy is used to help treat certain defined conditions. Spa massage is usually used for relaxation. The purpose, techniques and thus the effects can be different for each.

Clinical massage therapy can include myofascial release which is designed to treat specific trigger point areas of tightened tissue that cause localized pain, referred pain and dysfunction.

Studies with fascia, the connective tissue surrounding the outer and inner parts of the body, has helped advance myofascial massage treatments.

Cranial or craniosacral therapy is a gentle, low-force type of clinical massage that works with the skull bones and circulation of the brain and spinal cord fluid.

Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced trait anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and state of anxiety.  Theories behind what massage might do include blocking nociception (gate control theory), activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which may stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, preventing fibrosis or scar tissue, increasing the flow of lymph, and improving sleep.

Ultimately, massage can make you feel better.

Massage in Oklahoma is not certified at the state level but is often regulated at the city level. This is why it is helpful to go to someone who has attended a certified school and passed an evaluation like The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Amy Van Antwerp is a BCTMB, which is a board-certified massage therapist through the national certification of NCBTMB.