Wellness Bytes – Lets Get A Massage!

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Wellness Bytes #3

Last week I had the wonderful pleasure of a massage with Virginia Delaney, LMT, in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.  I had not gone for this treatment in over a year.  As soon as I sank down on the table in the peaceful, low-lit room and listened to the soft music, I asked myself Why don’t I do this more often? When the massage ended, I felt relaxed, peaceful and energized at the same time.  It was then that I decided to share some information about massage therapy and encourage you to fit this “medicine” into your life and budget.

Lets explore massage as a wellness therapy:  From the time we are born, touch is a vital aspect of our growth and development.  In fact, lack of human touch and contact can be a contributing factor in infants who fail to gain weight and develop.  There are other infant studies that show a positive association between light, gentle massage and health for premature babies.  The babies who have regular massage tend to gain weight faster and go home earlier.

For adults, massage therapy can offer many benefits such as relief of chronic low back pain, decrease in stress and anxiety, general pain relief, enhanced sleep and decrease in depression symptoms. Massage provides a safe and secure venue for touch needs in adults. This can especially be helpful in the geriatric population when the need for physical touch is often unmet.

The official definition of massage by the American Massage Therapy Association states, “Massage therapy is a profession in which the practitioner applies manual therapies and may apply adjunctive therapies, with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client.” (Intuitive Bodywork)

I asked Virginia Delaney, LMT and Fran Maresco Moore, LMT, CSCS all types of questions about massages, so that I might bring you some helpful tips from experts.

How do I get the best benefits from my massage?

  1. Turn off your cell phone and plan to keep it off for your entire session.
  2. Drink plenty of fluids before and after the massage to avoid muscle cramping, flush metabolic waste from the body, decrease feelings of dizziness, and decrease fatigue.
  3. Schedule your massage on a day off from working out or after your hardest workout of the week.
  4. Avoid skipping meals before the massage or grab a light snack to enhance your comfort.
  5. Take some deep breaths during your massage, to enhance the oxygenation of your muscles, organs and other tissues.
  6. Positive thoughts or thinking of being in a happy place may enhance your experience.

What are some things to share with your massage therapist?

    1. Medicines you are taking
    2. Recent illness or injuries
    3. Positioning preferences or need for pillows/cushions
    4. Allergies to fragrance, lotion or other topicals
    5. The level of touch you prefer: it is not necessary to feel pain in order to benefit from a massage; give feedback during the process to help guide your therapist in the amount of pressure that is right for you.

    How often should I go to get the best benefits from massage?

      Fran offered that “the effects of massage are cumulative but it is also possible to over-work tissue and exacerbate the original problem. Ideal frequency and duration of massage treatments vary depending upon age, medical conditions, treatment goals and budget. For most clients, if money and time are not limitations, 60-90 minutes of massage twice a week would be ideal. For those with certain medical conditions, and especially for the elderly, shorter more frequent sessions are appropriate (eg. 30 minutes 2x/ week.) It is helpful for some to start with massage twice a week with the eventual goal of monthly maintenance.”

    How does massage therapy fit in with my overall health and wellness?

    Virginia says, “Massage is just one way of taking care of yourself. It can provide stress relief, comfort, energy, and many other benefits. It works even better if you are incorporating other healthy behaviors into your life.”

    Interesting massage stories:

    Virginia shared an experience in which a client had a sense of emotional release during her session. As Virginia provided the massage, she felt some of the same feelings as her client. She stated that this experience was freeing for both of them, and very positive.

    Fran related a story about a client with an old injury from a car accident. The client never sought medical treatment and accepted her new physical limitations and pain. She did not seem to notice slow changes in her abilities to perform ordinary activities such as easily brushing her hair. She had pain from muscle spasms that affected her neck and shoulders. After 6 weeks of intensive massage therapy, this client had significant reduction in pain and was able to go paddle boarding, something she had not envisioned for herself.

    I know that for myself, I intend to find a way to incorporate massage therapy into my life on a more regular basis. I believe it is an important component of self-care, self-compassion, and nurturing.  This level of self care can enhance my work experience and relationships with others.

    For those of you who are curious and science-minded, please click on the links below for more information. Happy Massage!

    Geriatric Massage Project – encourages and teaches the use of massage for seniors

    The Effectiveness of Massage Therapy [pdf] - Comprehensive summary of evidence-based research on massage therapy.

    Articles:

    Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, etal. (1996). Massage therapy for infants of depressed mothers. Infant Behavior and Development. 19, 107-112.

    Field, T., Ironson, etal. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 197-205.

    Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., etal. (2001). Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.

    Scafidi, F., Field, T., Schanberg, S.M. (1993). Factors that predict which preterm infants benefit most from massage therapy. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 14, 176-180.‎

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