Massage is another remedial procedure that occupies an important place in Naturopathy. Actually massage has had a very long history, dating back to ancient times. Massage has been used therapeutically for thousands of years in India, China, Greece, Rome, Egypt, etc.
Massage has a very salubrious effect on the organs and systems of the body as detailed below:
(1) Skin: The beneficial effects of massage on the skin are unequalled. The pores of the skin are opened up, thus helping of the elimination of poisons from the body through perspiration.
(2) Muscles: Massage reduces the tension in the muscles and relieves muscular pain. Strenuous exertion results in the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Massage helps to rid the muscles of this acid and thus imparts a feeling of freshness and vigour.
(3) Circulation of the blood: The circulation of the blood in the part being massaged is speeded up, so that the part is supplied with more nutrients, and its healing powers are augmented. The accelerated circulation reduces swelling. There is an increase in the capacity of the blood to carry oxygen and to utilize it effectively.
(4) Nerves: Slow and gentle massage with light pressure relieves tension of the nerves and soothes them. Vigorous massage stimulates lax nerves and increases their efficiency.
(5) The digestive system: Massaging the abdomen
stimulates the digestive system, and promotes better elimination of wastes. The resistive powers of the body are strengthened due to the increase in the efficiency of the liver.
(6) The urinary system: Massaging activates the urinary system. As a result the process of elimination of toxic substances from the body through the urine is accelerated by the formation of greater quantities of urine.
(7) The heart: Systematic massage will reduce the burden on the heart, and thus increase its efficiency.
Normally dry palms are used for massage; but if the skin is too dry or if the body is excessively weak, wet cloth or soothing oil may be used. Among oils, sesame (til) oil is the best for this purpose. Some people use talcum powder for reducing friction while massaging, but this practice is not desirable, as the pores of the skin get clogged up.
Method: The process should begin with massage of the arms and legs. Next the chest, abdomen, back and buttocks should be massaged, in that order, finishing with the face and the head. Cloth should be used for massaging the back. As far as possible, we should massage ourselves with our own hands so as to combine the benefits of massages with those of exercise also to a certain extent. Those who are too weak to do so may take the help of others.
A massage should preferably be followed by a bath with lukewarm water.
If suffering from high blood pressure, the direction of massaging movements should be reversed, i.e. from head to foot.
Note: Massages are contra-indicated in the following conditions:
(1) In fevers, no massage of any type is recommended.
(2) Pregnant ladies should avoid massaging the abdomen.
(4) Massages are generally unadvisable in cases of skin diseases.