top of page
  • Writer's pictureShelly Hoekstra

Massage Therapy

The use of the natural healing process of massage therapy dates back to ancient times, as early as 5,000 years ago. Cultures from around the world, India, China, and Egypt being some of the first, used massage as a sacred practice for the treatment of physical maladies. While the primary purpose was to ease pain, treat injury, and cure illness, it was also found to alleviate stress and induce a deep state of relaxation.

This modality became mainstreamed in the United States in the late 1900s, with the great resurgence of holistic healing techniques. It is now a highly recognized and reputable healing practice.

Massage therapy is the application of pressure to the body by means of various methods and strokes that induce the healing process. This modality can be used for the treatment of many physical medical conditions, as well as improvement with mental well-being.

Massage Techniques

The therapeutic practice of massage has become quite diversified over the years. Here is a brief look at some of the most popular techniques:

Swedish Massage

A Swedish massage is the most common method used and may be considered the traditional form of massage. It combines mainly long kneading strokes with some short rhythmic strokes (or other massage techniques for specific purposes) by means of light to firm pressure. It is intended for complete body relaxation, reducing stress, easing muscular tension, increasing blood flow circulation, improving flexibility, and eliminating metabolic waste.

Deep Tissue Massage

This technique uses more pressure with slow, firm, penetrating strokes. It is meant to reach the deep layers of muscle and tissue in the body, releasing toxins that have accumulated there. This method is useful for treating soreness, muscle tension, pain, and injury. It can also help with flexibility, range of motion, and muscle function. It is beneficial for those with musculoskeletal disorders, postural problems, as well as anxiety.

Sports Massage

Although this method was developed for athletic performance, it can be useful for anyone, especially those suffering from chronic pain, repeated injury, or living a more strenuous lifestyle. This technique commonly uses a combination of massage strokes and methods to treat the muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Sports massage can support the body in the healing process, help prevent injury, and assist with reaching peak performance.

Hot Stone Massage

A hot stone massage applies smooth, heated, volcanic rocks to the body. The stones are most commonly placed on the spine, stomach, chest, feet, palms, and face. The heated stones are combined with the Swedish massage technique, and some therapists apply gentle pressure to the stones themselves as part of the treatment. This method is known to provide relaxation, relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety, improve blood flow, ease muscle tension, enhance sleep, and decrease pain from chronic illness.

Scientific Research

There is limited research on massage therapy in the United States, but one research review published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice showed promising results for a variety of medical conditions (Field, T., 2016). The conditions that massage therapy was found to benefit in the review included:

  • Pain disorders (a number of conditions, including arthritis & fibromyalgia)

  • Autoimmune conditions (multiple ailments, including asthma & multiple sclerosis)

  • Immune disorders (HIV & breast cancer)

  • Prenatal depression

  • Conditions related to preterm infants & full-term infants

  • Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Skin conditions from scars and ulcers

  • Hypertension

  • Aging associated disorders (including a few conditions such as Parkinson's Disease & dementia)

Therapeutic massage, a modality for healing and deep relaxation. Reap the benefits and treat yourself to the pampering of this gratifying modality.



Field, T. (2016). Massage Therapy Research Review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. ScienceDirect.


Phone: (413) 569-8048


© 2021 Shelly Hoekstra, Life Coach & Alternative Healing

bottom of page