Therapeutic Massage is Not a Luxury!

Are you too busy for a massage? Say it isn’t so! That means you are TOO busy. Slow down and take care of yourself, because if you won’t, who will? Massage therapy is an essential part of preventative health care. Sure, you can go get a massage when you’ve already hurt your back or when you’ve let yourself get so stressed out that your shoulders are hiked up to your ears with tension, but why wait? Why have that pain at all? Use massage therapy as it is intended, not as a luxury, not as a quick fix, but as an important part of your healthy lifestyle. If you are one of the folks that already does this for themselves, I sincerely congratulate you because I can tell you after over sixteen years experience in the massage field that it is a rare individual who will give herself the gift of regularly scheduled massages. Massage therapy has many benefits for the body, mind, and spirit. Put yourself in the hands of a licensed professional, and experience them.

Most people think of massage therapy as simply working with your muscles, but when your practitioner touches you, she is actually communicating with your nervous system. The therapist usually begins by gently laying hands on you so the primitive side of your nervous system can interpret this as a safe touch. The speed and pressure a massage therapist uses with her strokes activates the parasympathetic nervous system, your “resting and digesting” mode, and turns off your “fight or flight” mode known as the sympathetic nervous system. This is how massage therapy induces relaxation and reduces stress. At first an ancient protection against predators like bears, the human “fight or flight” response is often over-stimulated these days by the pressures of our world—-hectic schedules, deadlines, conflicts with other people, etc. Too much of this mode stresses your adrenal glands, causing exhaustion. Massage and other relaxation techniques are a great solution.

Massage helps you breathe more deeply, by activating the parasympathetic response and by decreasing tension in the muscles that may restrict your breathing. Deep breathing is good for whole-body health because it brings in healing oxygen, clears out toxins, and relaxes the mind. The action of the diaphragm gives all your internal organs a massage, which makes them function better. Massage is great for digestion because of this as well as the “resting and digesting” mode, which increases circulation to the organs. Sometimes your therapist will even work on your abdomen, massaging clockwise to encourage healthy movement in the colon.

Massage increases circulation to your muscles and throughout your body. Your arteries, which carry blood away from the heart, have a pumping action that mimics the heart and pushes the blood to your extremities, but your veins and your lymphatic vessels have no pumps. They rely on muscle movement or muscle manipulation to get the fluids moving back up toward the heart. Good circulation brings oxygen and nutrients to the cells and tissues of your body while sweeping away the toxins and byproducts of muscle contractions and cellular functions.

Massage therapy is also good for muscle tone. If your muscles are tense from overuse, or stiff from lack of use, manipulation by a trained professional will provide the circulation as discussed above and make your muscles healthy once again. Healthy muscle tissue feels firm yet elastic.

Sufferers of chronic pain find relief through massage. Relaxing a stressed nervous system helps calm down the nerve impulse firing the pain message toward the brain. The nerves sending the “tighten up” message to the muscle will be calmed as well. The increase in circulation induced by massage heals the muscles and connective tissue. Your therapist may also work on muscles that pull your posture off balance, and the resulting restoration of balance takes the strain off the troubled muscles so they can heal more easily. Some therapists also suggest stretches for you to do on your own, which will empower you in the healing process and give you more lasting results.

Remember to drink plenty of water, especially after you get a massage, to support your kidneys as they flush out the toxins your increased circulation has swept from your muscles. When you get treatment for chronic pain, you may need to apply ice to the affected area later that night, to control inflammation and facilitate healing. On the day of your massage, avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs, which inhibit the increase in circulation and undo the hard work your therapist has done

How often should you get massage? I strive to get my treatments once per week, but at the very least once per month. If you are healing a chronic problem you will need massage more often to get a cumulative effect between treatments and get the desired results. Tight budget? Even a half hour treatment does wonders, so call one of your wonderful local massage therapists today!

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Nurturing Ourselves

You give and give and give, but who takes care of you?  Who fills your cup?  We must fill our own cups, build ourselves up and make ourselves strong and centered and secure.  Not in a bolstering or protecting way, but more of a grounding, empowering way.  We must love ourselves.  It’s kind of like on passenger airplanes when the stewardess explains that you put your oxygen mask on before helping your child.  When you are taken care of, you will more effectively serve others. 

As a self-employed professional in the health care field for 15 years, I have observed that my business is affected directly by how I treat myself.  When I work like a dog and push and push myself without stopping to take care of me, clients start dropping off like flies, no call/no showing, canceling, etc.  And the work I do at those times seems to involve a lot of effort and not as much income.  In a way, it seems like the universe may be having my clients cancel so I’ll rest, since I don’t have enough sense to take time for me without such prompting. 

On the other hand, when I get a weekly massage or at least every other week, take soothing baths, do yoga, meditate, eat right, dance, make music, goof off with friends and family, take naps, it seems I attract business and income.  Things flow to me.  Here, it’s as if I am saying to the universe that I am worth it, I deserve good things, and then the universe mirrors that and provides more income with less struggle.  Hmmm.  As a massage therapist and yoga teacher, I think this is great, because I need to be walking the walk and not just talking the talk of wellness.  This phenomenon keeps me in integrity with my intention to live and set an example of health and balance.  And the side benefit is that I feel good!