Tiffany Field, founder of the Touch Research Institute and a woman widely known for her research in therapeutic touch and massage for health purposes, says,
“Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we’ve looked at.”
This idea stands contradictory to the widely held belief that massage therapy is solely for “pampering”. This always bothered me immensely, as it is not within my personality at all.
Hands That Hear Philosophy
I’m a therapist using massage for health, to facilitate healing, speed up muscle recovery, correct posture, and decrease pain. Nevertheless, I have come to the realization that being “pampered” is a natural side effect of massage, which I have not only come to accept but now see as a good thing!
How well can we say that of chiropractic, physical therapy, acupuncture, etc.? These are all great for our health! The “pampered” side effect, however, does not normally accompany them. This, in my eyes, is what makes massage therapy so dual-purpose for our emotional, mental, and physical well-being.
Two of the reasons that I personally believe we have this mindset that massage therapy is only a luxury are:
- Our experience with massage therapy has only ever been for relaxation or “luxurious” purposes. (This doesn’t mean it’s wrong of course.)
- We have been taught that true health is never TRULY enjoyable. (If anything, if it seems enjoyable we don’t believe it really works!).
Five reasons massage for health is effective: (click on each underlined sentence to read the studies that prove these points)
- It increases circulation and lymphatic movement. This, in turn, enhances your immunity and your chance of disease becoming stuck, or “stagnant”, in your body.
- It decreases stress hormones, particularly cortisol, otherwise known as “the death hormone”. According to this interesting article, 75-90% of all doctor’s visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- It improves sleep, and has shown to be true specifically in individuals with psychiatric disorders, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, and cerebral palsy.
- It improves digestion, according to this one chiropractor, and even bloating! This is particularly true via abdominal massage and Manual Lymphatic Drainage. This is so important as, according to this article, Americans spend $725 million on laxatives each year.
- It increases healing. There is complex scientific evidence behind this that is too much for me alone to explain, but please click the link prior to read countless testimonials, or go to http://www.scienceofmassage.com to learn how medical massage, implemented by medical doctor Ross Turchaninov, has changed people’s lives.
Enjoying Healthy Habits
Massage is, indeed, healthy for you, and yet it does not fit the mold of “going on the diet and being healthy” type of mindset. True health is not always sacrificing the things we love– it actually can be quite the opposite– doing the things we love!
I have many dear clients who wait all month for their one hour, monthly massage. To them it may just be their one hour of peace and quiet, or one hour to de-stress, and it is those things, but it is doing so much more for your body than you realize!
Here are just a few unique conditions that massage for health has been proven through case studies to completely eradicate or help with symptom relief:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Down Syndrome
- Frequent Headaches/Migraines
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Massage therapy is firstly a means of greater HEALTH; relaxation just happens to be a natural by-product.
Types of Massage for Health
Now, for some, relaxation is the only– and the most important– goal of their session. No one person is the same in their health goals and, thankfully, not all massage is the same. There are some types that are solely relaxation-based, others that are treatment-oriented, and still more unique modalities such as:
- Myofascial Release
- Manual Lymphatic Drainage
- Craniosacral Therapy
There are even massage modalities that include herbs, essential oils, mud, bamboo sticks, ice, or heat to name a few.
According to the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, there are more than 350 different massage modalities.
The options are endless, and I truly believe there is an option out there for you! For further detail into the three most basic massage types I offer (Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Integrated) and which may benefit you, read here.
Being that massage therapy is noninvasive, there are few contraindications (reasons to NOT get a massage), but here are some of the most common ones:
- Any contagious or infectious disease, including a fever or cold
- Severe unstable hypertension
- Open wounds/sores (if minor, it can be avoided and can be massaged around)
- Kidney failure
- Recent major surgery
- Recent heart attack/stroke
- Unexplained internal pain
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
How Often Should You Get a Massage?
As for the recommended timeframe of receiving massage therapy, it is different for everyone and can depend on your health condition, as well as your personal goals.
For example, those that want to significantly improve their posture, flexibility, chronic pain, or have any of the conditions listed above that massage for health has proven to help, should ideally come twice a week. (The closer you schedule your appointments and remain consistent with them, the faster you’ll see results!).
You will see more positive change by booking shorter, more consistent appointments versus longer, spaced-out appointments. If this is one of your health goals but you’re not sure how you can afford it that consistently, even for shorter time periods, ask about a package option. I would love to put something together specifically for you that is more affordable whilst still remaining effective.
For those that are more interested in general relaxation and general relief of tension, once a month is recommended. I faithfully get a massage and/or lymphatic drainage once or twice a month! Last month– and though this is not my typical– I received lymphatic drainage every week and received one 90-minute Deep Tissue massage. I am not one of those therapists that will recommend you receive massage therapy consistently if I do not myself.
I even suggest that if you know you have something coming up that will be stressful— a work meeting, a doctor’s appointment, an exam– get a massage a day or two beforehand! Massage increases serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, the hormones that make us happier! I have clients who can fully attest to this. One in particular has asked me more than once: “Did you put laughing gas in that session?” and consistently has to wait thirty minutes post-massage before driving!
Massage therapy is truly the only “luxury” I know that has such powerful health benefits. Consider adding massage for health to your routine wellness regimen for real results you can enjoy.
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”3 John 1:2