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Natural Awakenings

The Healing Touch: Massage covers a broad range of ailments, from stress to sports-related injuries

Mar 01, 2007 07:47PM ● By Paula Felps

For a society that’s so stressed out, we’ve pretty much mastered the art of relaxation. From vegging out on the couch with a remote control in hand to taking yoga classes, each of us has our own way of unwinding from the day’s demands. But few things can compete with a good massage when it comes to total body relaxation.

Massage doesn’t just feel good; it also provides relief to a number of different health concerns. Stress-related tension is cited as the culprit in as much as 90 percent of all disease in America, and massage has proven benefits in treating sleep disorders, high blood pressure, infertility, immunity disorders, low back pain, depression and much more. While we tend to think about the tactile pleasures of massage, its health benefits alone make it worth scheduling a rub-down on a regular basis.

How it works

Massage increases the body’s circulation, which allows for the blood to carry more oxygen and nutrients to the body’s organs. It also releases endorphins into the body, which are nature’s own painkillers. That makes massage a great option for individuals recovering from surgery or suffering from chronic illness. It has also been shown to help migraine sufferers, leading to a decreased need for medication.

Athletes, whether weekend warriors or serious competitors, can use massage as an important supplement to their training. Massage can help reduce the amount of recovery time needed after strenuous exercise, and also can help alleviate any pain that might be lingering as a result of activities. It helps soften injured or overused muscles, and also can reduce the amount of cramping or spasms experienced.

Who’s it for?

With so many benefits, it seems that massage would be a universally beneficial treatment, but that’s not the case. In some individuals, massage is not recommended. People who should avoid massage treatments can include individuals with certain forms of cancers, cardiac problems and phlebitis. In addition, some skin conditions and infectious diseases make it unwise to seek massage therapy. Always be honest and upfront with your massage therapist about any medical conditions or health concerns that you have; it may affect the type of massage your body needs.

Finding the right massage therapist

These days, you don’t have to look far to find a massage therapist—but how do you know which one is right for you? There are some wonderful massage therapists right here in Natural Awakenings. Read about their specialties, give them a call, explain what you are looking for, and ask questions like the ones below. Another way to find a massage therapist is through friends or co-workers; ask them for referrals to therapists they’ve been pleased with.

You can also contact the American Massage Therapy Association ( to find a qualified massage therapist. Keep in mind that massage is not a “one size fits Finding a massage therapyall” treatment. With so many styles of massage out there, you might have to look for a while to find someone who practices the kind of massage that best meets your needs. Interviewing your massage therapist beforehand is a good way to narrow down your choices. Questions you should ask include:

Did you graduate from a credible, accredited massage school?

Are you nationally certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork?

Do you belong to a credible, professional agency, such as the AMTA?

How much experience do you have?

What styles of massage do you use?

Like dating, you may not find the perfect fit on your first try. But keep at it—it’s well worth the effort and helps create a more relaxed, healthier you!

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