Benefits of MassageI couldn’t have said it better myself. I kept thinking I need to come up with FAQs about massage. Really there are some amazing writers who can put it to words more efficiently than I could. Here ya go:
As you lie on the table under crisp, fresh sheets, hushed music draws you into the moment. The smell of rose fills the air and you hear the gentle sound of massage oil being warmed in your therapist’s hands. The pains of age, the throbbing from your overstressed muscles, the sheer need to be touched — all cry out for therapeutic hands to start their work. Once the session gets underway, the problems of the world fade into an oblivious 60 minutes of relief and all you can comprehend right now is not wanting it to end.
But what if that hour of massage did more for you than just take the pressures of the day away? What if that gentle, Swedish massage helped you combat cancer? What if bodywork helped you recover from a strained hamstring in half the time? What if your sleep, digestion and mood all improved with massage and bodywork? What if these weren’t just “what ifs”?
Evidence is showing that the more massage you can allow yourself, the better you’ll feel. Here’s why.
Massage as a healing tool has been around for thousands of years in many cultures. Touching is a natural human reaction to pain and stress, and for conveying compassion and support. Think of the last time you bumped your head or had a sore calf. What did you do? Rubbed it, right? The same was true of our earliest ancestors. Healers throughout time and throughout the world have instinctually and independently developed a wide range of therapeutic techniques using touch. Many are still in use today, and with good reason. We now have scientific proof of the benefits of massage – benefits ranging from treating chronic diseases and injuries to alleviating the growing tensions of our modern lifestyles. Having a massage does more than just relax your body and mind – there are specific physiological and psychological changes which occur, even more so when massage is utilized as a preventative, frequent therapy and not simply mere luxury. Massage not only feels good, but it can cure what ails you.
The Consequences of Stress
Experts estimate that 80 percent to 90 percent of disease is stress-related. Massage and bodywork is there to combat that frightening number by helping us remember what it means to relax. The physical changes massage brings to your body can have a positive effect in many areas of your life. Besides increasing relaxation and decreasing anxiety, massage lowers your blood pressure, increases circulation, improves recovery from injury, helps you to sleep better and can increase your concentration. It reduces fatigue and gives you more energy to handle stressful situations.
Massage is a perfect elixir for good health, but it can also provide an integration of body and mind. By producing a meditative state or heightened awareness of living in the present moment, massage can provide emotional and spiritual balance, bringing with it true relaxation and peace.
The incredible benefits of massage are doubly powerful if taken in regular “doses.” Dr. Maria Hernandez-Reif, from the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami, is known for her massage research, along with colleague Tiffany Field. Together, they and other researchers have done outstanding work proving the value of massage. While their studies have shown we can benefit from massage even in small doses (15 minutes of chair massage or a half-hour table session), Hernandez-Reif says they know from their research that receiving bodywork 2-3 times a week is highly beneficial. And if we lived in a fantasy world, Hernandez-Reif has the answer. “I feel a daily massage is optimal.”
It’s undoubtedly a wonderful thing when your therapist begins unwinding those stress-tightened muscles, and your day’s troubles begin to fade away. But it’s the cherry on top to know this “medicine” only gets better with frequency.
What You Already Know: The Benefits of Massage
In an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. So what exactly are the benefits to receiving regular massage and/or bodywork treatments?
- Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.
- Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.
- Increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin.
- Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles
- Reduces spasms and cramping
- Increases joint flexibility.
- Reduces recovery time, helps prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminates subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.
- Releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller – and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.
- Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.
- Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.
- Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication.
- Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.
- Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays.
Other Body Therapies
Swedish: is a vigorous system of treatment designed to energize the body by stimulating circulation. Many benefits of Swedish massage may include generalized relaxation, dissolution of scar tissue adhesions, and improved circulation, which may speed healing and reduce swelling from injury
Deep Tissue: Techniques that utilize deep-tissue/deep-muscle massage are administered to affect the sub-layer of musculature and fascia
Myofascial: Myofascial release is the three-dimensional application of sustained pressure and movement into the fascial system in order to eliminate fascial restrictions.. Myofascial release is an effective therapeutic approach in the relief of cervical pain, back pain, fibromyalgia, scoliosis, neurological dysfunction, restriction of motion, chronic pain, and headaches
Trigger Point: These points are defined as localized areas in which the muscle and connective tissue are highly sensitive to pain when compressed. Pressure on these points can send referred pain to other specific parts of the body. Treatment consists of trigger point compression, myomassage, passive stretching, and a regime of corrective exercises. Success may be measured subjectively by the level of pain reduction experienced by the client and objectively through increased range of motion, strength, endurance, and other measures of improved function.
Foot Reflexology: Based on an ancient Chinese therapy, reflexology involves manipulation of specific reflex areas in the foot, hands, and ears that correspond to other parts of the body., this bodywork involves application of pressure to these reflex zones to stimulate body organs and relieve areas of congestion. This technique is used to reduce pain, increase relaxation, and stimulate circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids.
Acupressure: Acupressure is an ancient healing art that uses the fingers to press key points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body’s life force (sometimes known as qi or chi) to aid healing. Acupuncture and acupressure use the same points, but acupuncture employs needles, while acupressure uses the gentle, but firm pressure of hands and feet. Acupressure can be effective in helping relieve headaches, eye strain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, tension due to stress, ulcer pain, menstrual cramps, lower backaches, constipation, and indigestion. Self-acupressure can also be used to relieve anxiety and improve sleep. There are also great advantages to using acupressure as a way to balance the body and maintain good health. The healing touch of acupressure reduces tension, increases circulation, and enables the body to relax deeply.
Lymphatic Drainage: Lymph Drainage Therapy (LDT) is unique in that healthcare professionals learn how to palpate the lymphatic flow. As they develop their skills, they can then identify the rhythm, direction, and quality of the lymphatic flow. The strokes applied in manual lymph drainage are intended to stimulate the movement of the lymphatic fluids in order to assist the body in cleansing. This is a gentle, rhythmical technique that cleanses the connective tissue of inflammatory materials and toxins, enhances the activity of the immune system, reduces pain, and lowers the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.
Cranial Sacral: Craniosacral therapy is a gentle, noninvasive method of evaluating and enhancing the function of a physiological body arrangement called the craniosacral system. Developed by John E. Upledger, DO, OMM, this manual therapy enhances the body’s natural healing processes and has proven effective in treating a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction. The roots of this therapy are in cranial osteopathy, developed by Dr. William G. Sutherland. The craniosacral system consists of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord. It extends from the bones of the skull, face, and mouth--which make up the cranium--down to the sacrum or tailbone. Since this system influences the development and function of the brain and spinal cord, any imbalance or dysfunction in the craniosacral system could cause sensory, motor, or neurological disabilities. These problems may include chronic pain, eye difficulties, scoliosis, motor-coordination impairments, learning disabilities, and other dysfunctions of the central nervous system. Craniosacral therapy encourages the body’s natural healing mechanisms to improve the functioning of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress, and enhance health and resistance to disease. The craniosacral therapy practitioner uses a light touch to assist the natural movement of fluid within the craniosacral system. Therapists generally use only five grams of pressure, roughly the weight of a nickel, to test for restrictions in various parts of the craniosacral system
EARTH ENERGY HEALING:
Similar to Reiki, as it is the channeling of energy and entails laying on of the hands.
This therapy requires two practitioners to simultaneously massage the client’s left and right sides, making sure to mimic the other’s motions and to exert equal pressure for a balanced experience.
Also known as visualization, guided imagery is a relaxation system utilizing imagination and thoughts to improve one’s physical, mental, and emotional health. Often involving a process of listening to music or a person’s voice, the participant can take hold of imagery, symbols, and deep feelings to stimulate the body’s immune system, fight disease, and improve overall health. Many seriously ill patients use this technique to imagine the destruction of their disease and/or disorder.
This practice uses sound to create balance and alignment in the physical body, the energy centers (chakras), and/or the etheric fields. It is a vibration applied by an instrument or the human voice and can be understood as a field of energy medicine. The primary question in this field is: What are the correct resonant frequencies of the body?
Intuitive work is a way of incorporating the perceived and received information that extends beyond the five senses, transcending what is considered ordinary thinking patterns and reasoning processes. The four main media by which intuitives receive and perceive information are clairsentience; clairvoyance; clairaudience; and knowingness--impression or inspirational thought. The challenge for bodyworkers is how to respectfully incorporate intuition into their work while demonstrating responsibility/respect to the client. While the science aspect of bodywork focuses on the technique of touch (information accessed through the left hemisphere of the brain), the art aspect of bodywork focuses on how to touch with care and sensitivity (information accessed through the right hemisphere of the brain). As obvious tools for listening, hands touch with the intent to hear and see--information accessed through the temporal lobe. These three parts of the neurological system are considered the intuitive network.
REIKI HEALING--USUI SYSTEM
Reiki healing is a hands-on energy healing art. It was originated in Japan in the early 20th century by Mikao Usui, who had a life-changing experience of light and energy that he recognized as reiki--sacred life force--and that awakened his innate healing abilities. He developed a system of practices that enabled others to become effective healers. In a reiki healing session, the practitioner, trained to access and serve as a channel for the life force (ki or chi), places her hands on or just above the client’s body in order to activate healing energy within receptive points on the body. The practitioner’s hands move progressively with a passive touch through twelve positions on the body, remaining in each position for three to five minutes. As a harmonic flow of energy is strengthened, within the client and practitioner, healing occurs through the return of physical, mental, and spiritual balance
The Need for Touch
As a society, we are touch deprived and this can lead to disease or emotional dysfunction. From the cradle to the nursing home, tactile stimulation and the emotional assurance of caring touch bring about a sense of well-being and security. In numerous studies conducted on massage for infants, TRI researchers have found improved weight gain and development in pre-term infants, improved weight gain and motor behavior in cocaine-exposed infants, and improved weight gain and decreased stress behavior in HIV-exposed infants. Full-term infants also benefit with increased alertness and social behavior, less crying and increased weight gain.
I love giving and learning about massages and love to help people know how to take care of themselves and their friends! I might share some basics or go into some deeply shared wellness tips from my experiences to help you along your life happiness.