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Making Massage a Part of Your Healthcare Practice

Chances are you or someone you know received a gift certificate for massage this holiday season. Similarly, as the time for resolutions rolls around, you may be making promises to yourself that you’ll take better care of your health. Getting a regular massage seems to be an attractive way to do that.

So just what is all the hoopla about massage? What should you expect if this is your first massage? How does massage make you healthier? What are alternatives if touch is painful or you feel hesitant about massage in general?

If you’ve never had a massage, you should expect to spend about 15-30 minutes discussing with the therapist your health history, your right to privacy, and what level of pressure you prefer and need to achieve your goals for the session. Anything you discuss is confidential, and you need to tell the therapist about illnesses and injuries, even old ones from which you’ve recovered as these may leave scars or adhesions in the tissue. If you have a disease or illness that may contraindicate massage, the therapist will want to know if you have permission from your doctor to have massage.

The level of pressure ranges from extremely light, as in CranioSacral therapy, to average, as in Swedish Massage, to deep, as in Neuromuscular Therapy. Different modalities are used for different goals. Some spas pride themselves on consistency and offer a general sequence while other massage therapists mix modalities in one session and never do the same massage twice. Ask the therapist what kind of massage you will be getting if you are uncomfortable. Remember that you are always in control. If the pressure is too light, ask the therapist to explain why the therapy is light or ask him/her to go deeper. Likewise, if the pressure is too heavy, you should tell the therapist to lighten up. The therapist does not want to hurt you, but it is up to you to tell the therapist what level of pressure you want.

You will be draped by a sheet if you get a massage such as Swedish or deep tissue in which you have to undress (always to the level at which you are comfortable.) You may be fully clothed if you get Reiki or CranioSacral Therapy. Usually you will be on a massage table, but if you have Shiatsu, you may be on the floor, and if you have foot reflexology, you may be in a chair.

Massage provides a variety of benefits and thus, is recognized as complementary health care. In particular, it improves circulation and metabolism; reduces toxicity; improves digestion, assimilation, and elimination; relieves sore muscles and joint stiffness, increases range of motion; reduces tension and stress; relieves pain; and improves quality of rest and sleep. Furthermore, it provides touch in a safe and caring environment, and healthy touch is necessary for healthy neurological function—studies have proven healthy touch helps us live better and longer.

Some people don’t want to get a massage because they are embarrassed about their bodies, have painful conditions such a fibromyalgia, or have heard stories of people who have had bad experiences with massage. In North Carolina , massage therapy is regulated by the state and therapists are required to adhere to strict laws and a code of ethics. The massage therapist’s interest in your body is clinical and evaluative. The therapist will not judge your body on appearance. Your body will either be draped or clothed except for the part that is being worked. Furthermore, the law forbids sexual contact. If the actions of your therapist make you uncomfortable, you have the right to stop the session and to report the therapist to the state board.

If you have tender spots, the therapist can adjust the pressure to a comfortable level. Many modalities use touch no more heavy than the weight of a nickel. If you have deep adhesions or taut bands and need deep work, the therapist can slowly and gently apply pressure at deeper and deeper levels until the tissue releases. If you feel pain past your “edge”, you can always ask the therapist to lighten the pressure. Remember, you are always the one in control.

Massage therapy is gaining acceptance as a part of a healthy lifestyle. It speaks the language of gentleness and connection, trust and receiving, peace and attention. If it speaks to you, make it a part of your new year’s resolution.

Massage Therapy and Its Benefits

Massage therapy is by far one of the oldest types of therapies used. Research has proven it was practiced in the Far and Middle East for at least 5000 years. Additional research also suggests that massage therapy has long been practiced in Egypt, China, Greece and Rome. It is known for its numerous benefits to the body as well as to the spirit.

Massage therapy is a therapeutic technique that involves manipulation of the soft tissues of the body. It is the calming, therapeutic process of kneading, stroking, and pressing the different areas of the body. It is used to alleviate pain, relieve stress, tension, or to relax, stimulate, and tone the body.

man getting massageMassage therapy is more than being an excellent tool for calming and relaxing the body. It is not just practiced for feeling good although that's often the perception. Research has indicated that it does much more than create a pleasant sensation on the skin.

One of the major benefits is that massage therapy works on the soft tissues of the body; such as muscles, tendons and ligaments. It even enhances the muscle tone. Although it does bring a great relief to the muscle under the skin, the benefits that this practice can offer may even affect the deeper layers of the muscles and the body organs themselves.

Massage therapy is further described as a holistic approach that alleviates blood pressure, heart rate, and increases the lymph flow and blood circulation. One report that has been published describes what massage can do in the systems of the body.

Another report indicates that massage works to aid the lymphatic system, which runs parallel to the circulatory system. This is what actually makes massage a great tool for enhancing the elimination of waste or unnecessary elements throughout the body.

Along with these benefits, massage therapy boosts the range of motions, and even increases the endorphins, which are the natural painkillers of the body.

Listed below are a few of the benefits of massage therapy:

Given the information of the benefits of massage therapy, it's no wonder that today the traditional health care systems all over the world have considered massage therapy as one very important and effective technique for treating illnesses.

Additionally, more and more people are also using services of licensed massage therapists these days. In fact, according to some surveys, most consumers spend about $2 billion to $4 billion annually just for massage therapy.

There is concrete evidence to show that massage therapy is gradually becoming a mainstream therapeutic practice. And, with an ever growing research on the much deeper beneficial effects of massage, thousands of health care professionals today are highly recommending patients include massage therapy in their health care plans.

Samantha Kay hosts the website AboutMassages.com. She says, "Massages are gaining in popularity, and we want to bring you up to date information! Be sure to check out our latest information page on massage therapy."

Article Source: Ezine Articles

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Jan. 2008

In This Issue

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Reading Corner: Winter Picks

Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor. Taylor is an Episcopal priest who tells the story of leaving a large, urban church in Atlanta for a small, country parish and of leaving again for an academic professorship. What I love is her style and the way she talks, which is both down-to-earth and poetic, and about her faith, which is both traditional and radical. I gave this one as a Christmas present because I like it so much.

Aztec by Gary Jennings. I really enjoyed this book. I found it at a library book sale and then ordered the sequels from Amazon. This first one is best. The narrator is an old Aztec man who tells the story of his people's history and his life before and during the Spanish Conquest. It is based on verifiable archeology. It broke my heart to realize that such a dynamic culture is destroyed. 

The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies & Possibilities by Gregg Braden, et al. I guess this book demonstrates my eclectic reading tastes. It's about the predictions of the Mayan calendar that the winter solstice in the year 2012 will mark the beginning of a new leap in human consciousness. It features 25 essays by renowned authors on the subject. Some of the essays are better than others, and one must read them with a bit of skepticism. Still, I found them interesting when I compared them to what Christians say will happen at the "end of the age."

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Copyright 2008
Suzanne H. Eller

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Quotes about Touch

healing hand

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The gift of touch is the most powerful healing you can offer another, and it is the most powerful healing you can give yourself.
~Kathleen Keating Scholessinger

Touch seems to be as essential as sunlight.
~Diane Ackerman

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
~Leo Buscaglia

In the absence of touching and being touched, people of all ages can sicken and grow touch-starved.
~Diane Ackerman

In a world that has grown more complicated, more fierce in the demands made upon our hearts and pocket books, there is one easy, free gift left. The power of touch.
~Kathleen Keating Scholessinger

We human beings are wired for touch. We respond to touch and need it to survive. Our first instinct when we are injured is to put our hand over the affected site and oftentimes to rub it. There is a special magic that occurs when someone else touches us.
~Michael R. Forrest

purple spiral

Rescuing Hug

rescuing hug

This is a picture from an article called "The Rescue Hug".

The article details the first week in the lives of a set of twins, Kyrie and Brielle Jackson, who were born in Massachusetts in 1995. Each of the girls were in separate incubators. Kyrie was growing, but Brielle was not expected to live.

Gayle Kasparian, their neonatal nurse, had tried everything she could think to do. Finally, she went against the hospital rules and placed the babies in one incubator. Almost immediately, Brielle began to snuggle up to her sister, and Kyrie reached an arm over the sister in an endearing embrace. Brielle stopped her frantic crying, and her color returned. Soon Brielle's heart stabilized, she began breathing better, and her temperature rose to normal.

"Let us not forget to embrace those whom we love."

According to Snopes.com, this is a true story. Read about the two real children and how they are doing now by clicking the Snopes link below.

Besides being circulated on the Internet, the photo has run in Life magazine and Reader's Digest. The photo was taken by Chris Christo of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette..

Surely, this is an example of the power of touch to heal.

~Source: Snopes.com: Rumor Has It

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