If I had to limit myself to just one health therapy, massage would be my first choice. Based upon my personal experience, it has produced the greatest results in the shortest time span and it is extremely pleasurable.
Some years ago I had some health issues relating to a car accident and my insurance was willing to pay for four massages. They were footing the bill for other types of treatment as well, but would only allow the four massages.
A good friend recommended this gentleman who had a studio in the basement of his home where his wife and three children lived. It was not fancy at all but he had a great reputation. He agreed to do one hour sessions, one per week and send the bill to my insurance company. I did not know what to expect. I had no idea that in four weeks he would perform a miracle.
His approach, as he explained it, was to use very deep tissue and very hard massage on all the muscles and connective tissue in my body. He worked a small area on one side and did the same for the corresponding area on the other side of my body. I had several really sore parts from the accident and had put on 20 pounds because I was not able to workout for many months. I was mentally bothered by the extra weight on my stomach and backside.
When I went in for my final treatment, the fourth one, he could not believe his eyes and neither could I. I had dropped 20 pounds, the extra weight around my stomach and backside was gone. He said I looked like a teenager again. He regretted not taking before and after shots. The transformation was miraculous.
I have heard similar stories from others after massage therapy. I believe the deep tissue work released the toxins stored in my muscles and my body was reborn. Even though the funds to continue were lacking, I felt that those four weeks did so much that additional sessions would not be needed.
What’s so nice about massage work is the wide variety of therapies that are available and for those on a tight budget I have found nearby massage schools to be a great resource. Students will provide one hour sessions for $25 each. While their work is not the greatest, this is a viable option if money is a challenge for you. Of course your friends and loved ones can massage you as well.
What is it about massaging that produces such great results? First here is a brief list of its many benefits:
Benefits of Regular Massage
- Relaxes the body
- Calms the nervous system Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces heart rate
- Slows respiration
- Loosens tight muscles
- Stretches connective tissue Reduces chronic pain
- Improves skin tone
- Increases red blood cell count Relieves tired and aching muscles Improves muscle tone
- Relieves cramped muscles
- Speeds recovery from injury
- Reduces tension headaches
- Increases tissue metabolism Decreases muscle deterioration Speeds recovery from illness Increases range of motion
- Speeds elimination of metabolic waste Increases blood and lymph circulation Stimulates release of endorphins Strengthens the immune system
- Reduces swelling
- Improves posture Improves skin tone
- Reduces mental stress
- Promotes quality sleep
- Improves productivity
- Induces mental relaxation
- Improves concentration
- Reduces anxiety
- Enhances self-image
- Provides a feeling of well being
- Nurtures and stimulates emotional growth
The physical manipulation in massage has two major effects according to the University of Minnesota:
- Increase in blood and lymph circulation
- Relaxation and normalization of the soft tissue (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments), which releases nerves and deeper connective tissues improving circulation
They also state that: “Massage improves blood and lymph circulation due to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and partly to the chemicals released as part of the relaxation response.”
Improved circulation can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. As cellular health improves, tissues function more efficiently. More efficient functioning leads to the removal of waste products and may increase the absorption of excess fluids and reduce swelling in soft tissues.
Massage therapy relaxes muscle tissue, which reduces painful contractions and spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression. To understand this, consider that when muscles are contracted, they sometimes compress the nerves around them. When these muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed, and, in theory, can get proper nutrients and operate more efficiently. The nerves can assume their normal work of transmitting messages to and from the brain, which improves functioning of the muscles and organs.
Touching the skin or applying pressure relaxes muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In addition, while some of the deeper tissues of the body, such as deep spinal musculature, cannot be easily accessed by a massage therapist, the release of more superficial layers of muscles may also affect these deeper layers. This can lead to both superficial and deep tissues finding a better alignment and balance.
Organs can also benefit from massage, as they share neurological pain pathways with muscles, bones, and nerves. When muscles, bones, or nerves are distressed, organs can sometimes reflect distress and dysfunction. For example, low back pain can intensify menstrual cramps and menstrual cramps can cause low back muscles to tense. Massage can therefore improve symptoms associated with the functioning of both the organ and the muscles.”
Edgar Cayce, the famed psychic and healer, made use of massage therapy when he recommended different forms of treatment to the thousands who sought his help. Based upon his suggestions and the positive results his patients experienced the conclusions reached by medical experts suggests that massage has the ability to coordinate the nervous systems. One expert states: “The autonomic nerve balancing mechanism of neuroreflex techniques and the reprogramming of the body/mind brain feedback loop through neuromuscular release also are verified, although not named in the readings.”
Cayce mentions certain massage types such as Swedish, neuropathic and osteopathic and he often suggested certain oils to be used with the massage. His frequent mention of osteopathic massage was based upon the concept of nerve centers and the importance of coordinating these centers through massage and manipulation. Most massage therapists of that era (early 1900’s – mid 1900’s) were unfamiliar with the major cerebrospinal and sympathetic centers (ganglia and plexus) and therefore needed Cayce’s training and suggestions so their work could be done properly, especially working the nerve centers. His results are well documented. Thousands were cured and helped by the massage work, along with his other recommendations.
I have found that the best way to locate a good massage therapist is to ask around. Call nearby health stores and chiropractors. In fairness to therapists you must give them at least 4 sessions before you know if they are helping. That being said, I got rid of some after just one session because I asked for some specific techniques to be used and they could not follow my directions. I also like to ask lots of questions over the phone before setting an appointment. Price should not be the determining factor. Online reviews can be of help in your decision process.