You Need a Massage

You Need a Massage

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  1. Close your mind to outside distractions for a few moments.  Imagine that today is a hot afternoon in late May.  You step outside into bright sunshine.  Traffic is heavy, the AC in your car isn’t working.  By the time you arrive home, you are covered with a sheen of sweat; you are stressed and ready to pull your hair out.

         Now imagine lying on a bed of clover, your hand dangling in a gently flowing river, birds singing in a Magnolia tree heavy with blossoms, a cooling breeze caressing your skin and a can of your favorite beverage dripping icy condensation water onto your abdomen.  An hour of Swedish massage will take you to this private, carefree, restful place.

         A professional therapeutic massage can do that, and so much more for you.


    The Benefits of Therapeutic Massage

         Therapeutic Massage will:

    Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.

    Ease medication dependence.

    Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow

    Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles

    Help athletes recover from strenuous workouts

    Improve the condition of the skin

    Increase joint flexibility

    Lessen depression and anxiety

    Reduce the formation of scar tissue and stretch marks

    Improve circulation of vital nutrients to the organs

    Reduce adhesions of the fascia that limits movement

    Reduce spasms and cramping

    Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles

    Release endorphins—the body’s natural painkiller

    Relieve migraine pain


    Pain Relief

         Skeletal muscle is denser than bone: it accounts for 40% of the body’s weight.  By weight, muscle tissue is stronger than steel.  Unlike steel, however, muscle fibers can incur microscopic tears, and when injured, the muscle may become really grouchy.  A cancer can be growing inside you as we speak without causing the least bit of discomfort, but twist suddenly when someone calls your name, you might give yourself a killer headache.  That "scream" for attention is what we call pain. 

         Pain in muscles can be treated in various ways: surgery, injections of drugs, topical ointments, chiropractic manipulation of the spine and joints.  According to the National Institutes of Health, 95% of all spinal surgeries and surgeries to the carpal tunnel of the hands are unnecessary, and even harmful.  Chiropractors manipulate bones, but bones may not be a causative factor of the pain.  Physical therapists will teach you how to stretch and exercise (which will make the muscle stronger and less susceptible to reinjury), but pain relief from physical therapy won’t occur overnight.  Anesthetic medications merely put the pain to sleep for a little while, and all drugs have unintended adverse effects.  The only side effect of an hour-long session with a massage therapist is deep relaxation.


         Seriously injured muscles radiate intense, debilitating pain–pain so severe that you’ll beg for relief.  There’s another kind of a pain, however.  As a result of traumatic injury, lack of exercise, overexertion, faulty diet, or the constant assault of the stress and irritation of daily living, we are prone to develop one or more highly irritable spots within muscles known as Trigger Points.  Trigger Points are the most neglected causes of all muscle pain, yet they are a distressing part of everyone’s life. 

         These points are tender to touch and will radiate pain or sensations to distant, seemingly unrelated area’s of the body. For instance, a trigger point in one of your calf muscles can cause nagging pain in the low back.  At first, pain from the trigger point may be hardly noticeable.  If untreated, however, trigger points may lead to a variety of painful complications, including but not limited to: numbness or tingling and spasms radiating into the hand (called Thoracic outlet Syndrome); the pain of sciatica; the formation of adhesions and scar tissue; and frozen shoulder syndrome that can reduce the range of motion of the affected arm to a couple of inches.

         Trigger points don’t require drug injections, acupuncture, painful stretching of joints by a physical therapist or ten visits to a chiropractor.  The actual treatment isn’t very complicated.  However, the search for trigger points requires thorough and careful examination by a skilled, licensed massage therapist. 


    Massage…What It Is and What It Ain’t

         First, let’s discuss what it ain’t.  Massage therapists don’t provide "happy endings" beneath the sheets.  They don’t perform "erotic massage." 

         In 38 states and the District of Columbia, the practice of massage therapy is regulated.  The educational requirement for licensing varies from 500 hours in 27 states to 1,000 hours in Nebraska and New York.  Course curriculum in all states must include: anatomy & physiology; kinesiology; psychology; pathology; and hands’ on massage in a supervised clinic open to the public.  Upon completion of the educational requirement in the state(s) they wish to practice in, applicants must pass either the national or state licensing exam.  In addition, most of the regulated states require licensed massage therapy practitioners to obtain continuing education units (CEUs) during the license period, ranging from as few as 2 hours of additional classroom studies and/or hands’ on training to as many as 24 hours.


    Answers To Your Questions

    Where will my massage or bodywork session take place?

         Your massage or bodywork session will take place in a warm, comfortable, quiet room, with soft, relaxing music playing in the background. You will lie on a table specially designed for your comfort.


    Must I be completely undressed?

         Most massage and bodywork techniques are traditionally performed with the client unclothed; however, it is entirely up to you what you want to wear. You should undress to your level of comfort, but be aware that you will be properly draped during the entire session.  However, several massage modalities, such as Trigger Point Therapy, Shiatsu, Reflexology and all the Eastern energy modalities can be given through street clothing.


    Will the practitioner be present when I disrobe?

         The practitioner will leave the room while you undress, relax onto the table, and cover yourself with a clean sheet.


    Will I be covered during the session?

         You will be properly draped at all times to keep you warm and comfortable.  Only the area being worked on will be exposed.  And, as mentioned, Shiatsu, Therapeutic Touch and Neuromuscular Therapy (i.e., Trigger Point Therapy) can be received through the clothing you wear to your session.


    What parts of my body will be massaged?

        A typical full-body session will include work on your back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck, and shoulders.  However, per your request, the therapist can concentrate on especially sore or injured areas; conversely, the therapist will avoid areas you don’t wish to be touched. You will be in charge of your massage.


    What will the massage or bodywork feel like?

         A relaxing Swedish massage is often a baseline for clients. In a general Swedish massage, your session may start with broad, flowing strokes that will calm your nervous system and relax exterior muscle tension. As your body becomes relaxed, pressure will gradually be increased to relax specific areas and relieve areas of muscular tension. A light oil or lotion is used to allow your muscles to be massaged without causing friction to the skin.  The oil also helps hydrate your skin.  You should notify your therapist immediately if you feel any discomfort so that the pressure can be adjusted.  Massage and bodywork are most effective when your body is not resisting.


    Are there different kinds of massage and bodywork?

         There are numerous modalities.  Various techniques utilize different strokes, including basic rubbing strokes, rocking movements, posture and movement re-education, application of pressure to specific tender points, and more.  Together, you and your therapist will decide which modality will best meet your needs.

         Modalities offered by most licensed massage therapists include: Swedish massage; deep tissue massage (DT); therapeutic massage; neuromuscular therapy (NMT) to release painful trigger points; proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF)to restore range of motion; myofascial release (MFR) to help you be more comfortable in your own skin; sports massage; a gentle massage designed for the elderly, children and the ill; oncology massage for cancer patients; a special massage designed for expectant mothers; Shiatsu; and Traditional Chinese Medicine energy modalities.

         Prior to the massage, feel free to ask the practitioner any questions about the technique or the upcoming session.  During the massage, make yourself comfortable.  The practitioner will either gently reposition you or tell you what is needed (such as lifting your arm).  Many people just close their eyes and completely relax, communicating if/when they need more or less pressure, another blanket, or anything else relevant to the session.  If you have any questions regarding the session or about the particular technique you are receiving, feel free to ask.  Please don’t hesitate to communicate your likes and dislikes.


    How will I feel after the massage or bodywork session?

         Most people feel very relaxed.  Some experience freedom from long-term aches and pains developed from tension or repetitive activity.

         Massage and bodywork can help release chronic muscular tension, thereby relieving pain; improve circulation; increase joint range of motion; reduce mental and physical fatigue and stress; promote faster healing of injured muscular tissue; improve posture; and reduce blood pressure.  Massage and bodywork is also known to promote better sleep, improve concentration and memory, reduce anxiety and create an overall sense of well-being.


    What will it cost?

         As in all things, costs vary by location, the therapist chosen or the massage modality requested.  Nationwide, the current average rate charged by a private practitioner is $60 per 50-minute session.  Full-service spas offer saunas, whirlpool baths, steam rooms, exercise equipment and beauty treatments in addition to massage therapy.  Such services can be expensive: the full spa treatment including beautifying full-body wraps will vary in price from $100 per hour to the-sky-is-the-limit.


    Are There Any Reasons I Shouldn’t Get A Massage

         Not many, but a few.  Licensed massage therapists are required by state regulations to obtain a medical history, and ask questions about your current health.  For your own safety, it is imperative that you answer the questions truthfully.  If you are presently under a doctor’s care for any condition, it is strongly advised that you receive a written recommendation for massage or bodywork prior to booking the session.  Depending on the illness, approval from your doctor may be required.


    A Special Message For The Bashful

         Like most people, you may be shy…you may be self-conscious about the size of your abdomen or flabby rear end.  But to a massage therapist your fanny is neither pretty nor flabby nor sexy: to massage therapists, when you’re lying on the massage table, your buttock is merely a big muscle.  Massage therapists like muscle.  Besides, only the area being massaged is ever exposed–your modesty will always be preserved with draping. 

         Massage therapists are healers.  They’d like nothing better than to take away your pain and lead you to that restful place beside a gently burbling river.

         Before this week ends, you should make an appointment to receive a restful, pain-relieving massage.  Do it as a treat for yourself. 


    To Locate A Licensed Massage Therapist Near You:

         Visit the website of either ABMP (Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals) or AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association).  You’ll want to call far in advance to set an appointment.  Drop-ins probably can’t be accommodated.

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