REGION – Research supports what many people have experienced for themselves: receiving massage regularly can increase your sense of well being. In fact, getting a chair massage for as little as 15 minutes once per week provides lasting improvements in stress, sleep, pain, and immune function while increasing creativity and productivity.
Yet many of us think of massage as a once in while indulgence or as something you “get” when that pain simply isn’t tolerable anymore. These are common misconceptions. Most types of massage are gentle forms of healing. It’s a mistake to wait until conditions are acute before seeking help. This often makes it harder to correct the problem. Massage is rooted in wellness traditions, which emphasize regular practices that promote and maintain the overall health of the body physically and mentally.
Peter’s back was painful with a tendency to “go out” when stressed. He began monthly massages focused on the back, but including attention to the whole body. “I was able to maintain a baseline of muscle relaxation and rejuvenation. This kept my back from spasming and provided much sought after relief.”
Massage has been practiced by almost all cultures throughout time. Modern massage is a refinement of a basic human skill – our ability to provide caring touch to one another. Hippocrates, the “father of (western) medicine,” born in 460 B.C., gave us the Hippocratic oath and firmly believed all physicians should be trained in massage.
That is not the case today. Massage practitioners are a separate profession. An internet search reveals dozens available in our region. They work in private practices, in spa settings, or at resorts. You can find them at farmers’ markets. Some provide “mobile massage” at homes or workplaces.
Betsy lives in Westminster. She just tried her first home massage. “I found it easy and very relaxing. It is different from an office visit in a positive and comforting way. You don’t have to go to and fro by car. I was able to enjoy the benefits of the massage that much longer not having to go anywhere right after I got off the table.”
Many different styles of massage are offered. The most common is Swedish, the classic stress reduction form. You may also see references to Deep Tissue or Sports or Myofascial as well as Shiatsu or Thai. With so many options, how to choose?
An enjoyable way is to try them out! Finding a practitioner and style that best suits you can be fun. However, time and funds might be limited. A reliable method is to ask friends for recommendations. Trust and comparability are major factors in a successful massage experience. Discuss your needs with any prospective practitioner, whether for relaxation or relief from specific conditions. Be sure they are knowledgeable and qualified to address your problem.
Cost can be an obstacle. A little shopping around can help. New practitioners offer discounts to attract new clients. Established practitioners offer discounts during slow times and to clients who come on a regular schedule. Massage schools such as River Valley Community College or the Shiatsu School of Vermont offer attractive rates for massages provided by their students. While full body attention is nice, consider less costly options such as chair massage or a focus on hands and feet. Those hardworking members will appreciate the special attention!
Share this article with your employer. Ask them to bring massage to the workplace. The benefits of increased productivity and a happier workforce have convinced many employers to provide massage free of charge or with cost sharing to their employees. And if you are the boss, don’t neglect to schedule a massage for yourself!
Written by Michael J. Daley, an author and massage practitioner living in Westminster, Vt. Find out more about him at www.massagebymichael.massageplanet.com.