Making time for ourselves and finding ways to enter a state of deep relaxation might still be seen by some people as a luxury. Increasingly, however, it is recognized as a significant piece in an overall approach to creating and enjoying a healthy lifestyle. The following information pertains to general massage. Over time I will present information which presents the more specific benefits that might be achieved with myofascial bodywork. They will encompass and extend the benefits of general massage.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Enhanced sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improved concentration.
- Increased circulation.
- Reduced fatigue.
States of deep relaxation, when experienced on a regular basis, can also lead to a deepening of one's sense of being alive, of being more fully present and connected to the world.
But what if that hour of massage did more for you than just take away the pressures of the day? What if that gentle, pampering massage you allow yourself as a well-deserved indulgence every now and again 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 will feel.
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 stubbed your toe. 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 tension 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. These benefits are enhanced when massage is utilized on a regular basis as a preventative measure. So maybe you should consider bodywork an ongoing part of your wellness regimen, rather than an occasional luxury. Massage not only feels good: it can cure what ails you.
The Need for Relaxation
Experts estimate that 80% to 90% 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.
When you choose the specialized style of massage known as Myofascial Bodywork you will not only benefit from relaxation, but there could be resolution to ongoing issues of chronic pain and disease as well. Many symptoms result from imbalances being held by tension in the fascial network. As these holding patterns are released, and tension is redistributed through the system, the symptoms will also change -- and might simply disappear.
The 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 conducted with colleague Tiffany Field. 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 or 3 times a week is highly beneficial.
There is even the suggestion that daily massage would be optimal, but for most of us that simply is not going to happen. Balancing the time commitment and the financial investment will mitigate what is "optimal" for each person.
My body starts to long for massage after about three weeks. Some of my clients schedule every two weeks, others are on a four- or six-week cycle. Some fit it in when they can, others see me several times within a short span of time to resolve a specific issue. There are many ways to bring myofascial bodywork into your wellness regimen.
Massage can also help specifically address a number of health issues. Bodywork can:
- Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
- Ease medication dependence.
- Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
- Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
- Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
- Increase joint flexibility.
- Lessen depression and anxiety.
- Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
- Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
- Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
- Reduce spasms and cramping.
- Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
- Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
- Relieve migraine pain.
There are many people struggling with various types of chronic pain that can be helped with bodywork techniques and the hands of a skilled therapist.
Massage for relaxation, to relieve stress, to relieve chronic pain, to heal, to support one's personal and spiritual growth: how many reasons do you need? Consider making an appointment for bodywork and start to feel the benefits of massage working for you!