When I was in practice, I always had a massage therapist on my staff. I would use her mainly to help in the treatment regimen for traumatic injury cases. Her techniques were very beneficial in speeding the relief of muscle spasms and soreness. Her treatment room was quiet and comfortable with subdued lighting, relaxing music, and pleasant smells.
On occasions when we were super busy and running behind, I would usually apologize to the patient for the wait. They would often say, “Oh, that’s OK, I really just came in for the massage.” It stung my ego a little, but I’ll admit that when I had a break in patient flow I would go back for a short massage myself. I’m a borderline insomniac, but within five minutes on her table I would be out like a light. I remember one time apologizing for snoring and she said it was the highest compliment you can pay a massage therapist. It goes along with a statement I read by Robert Brault, a University of Utah Professor, who said, “I am a private person, but I will reveal myself: If you start massaging my shoulders, don’t expect me to tell you to stop.”
No doubt a good massage feels wonderful, but is that all there is to it or is there something more therapeutic about it? Though there are a number of different techniques, let me share some of the common health benefits that research has documented about massage.
1 – Massage increases both blood and lymphatic circulation and, in the process, helps remove toxins that have accumulated in the tissues. It is demonstrated to be one of the more effective approaches in the treatment of fibromyalgia.
2 – Massage reduces stress, tension, and anxiety as effectively as prescription drugs. This calming effect naturally decreases blood pressure and heart rate while increasing the level of serotonin, which fights depression. I think of it as pushing my reset button, a fresh start, like re-booting your computer. It makes you wonder, why would you pay for psychotherapy when massages cost one tenth as much?
3 – Massage increases the secretion of endorphin hormones that are the body’s natural pain killers. It has shown effectiveness in dealing with both acute and chronic types of pain.
4 – Massage promotes joint flexibility by diminishing soreness, swelling, and scar tissue, and helping break up adhesions. Passive exercise increases motion and speeds recovery. It is helpful in dealing with soft tissue strains and injuries.
5 – Massage strengthens the immune system. Studies have demonstrated that massage therapy increases the body’s killer cells that attack foreign microbes and bacteria while also modulating the number of T-Cells. Medical studies even indicated benefit to patients infected with HIV and cancer patients.
There are very few contraindications to massage therapy, and they are pretty intuitive and self-evident. They consist of conditions like open wounds, burns, fractures, and bleeding disorders.
Overall massage therapy not only feels good, but it is good for your health and well-being. Don’t be like the 100 year old person who said, “If I’d have known I was going to live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself.”