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Routine Massage Therapy Promotes Overall Physical & Mental Health

by Linda L Baily CMT, NCTM, Metro Massage

You know that “ah” feeling after a massage? – the one you never want to end?

As it turns out, there may be more good reasons for a massage than just relaxation. Once considered a “treat”, massage and bodywork have now become essential parts of a regular healthcare program.

Our bodies are made to be mobile – but within reasonable limits. When muscles contract to provide action, other muscles and tissues work to stabilize the bones and joints. If there is soreness, an aching feeling, or stiffness with movement, it may be due to overuse or, even underuse of the muscles and tissues.

Remaining in any one position for an extended period of time fatigues muscles too by allowing buildup of waste materials which leads to the development of stiffness and pain sensations.

Massage can provide the following benefits:

  • softened and loosened tissues so the tissues return to their normal length and allow full range of motion;
  • increased fluid circulation to eliminate waste materials and re-energize cells with fresh oxygen and nutrients;
  • improved muscle tone and elasticity;
  • breakdown of adhesions occurring when muscles remain static; and
  • postural strength and balance to support our skeletal system which helps prevent strains, sprains, or tissue tears.

Additionally, for our older generation

  • light touch massage of the hands or face meets the very basic, essential need of human touch;
  • lymphatic therapy techniques help reduce fluid retention;
  • leg and foot techniques increase circulation for those with more sedentary lives; and
  • a relaxation session will reduce anxiety, lower respiration rate, and release endorphins (a “feel-good” hormone) to give an important respite to the entire body.

When researching professional massage therapists, be sure to ask about their qualifications. New Jersey is currently a “Certification” state, meaning that qualified therapists must meet criteria set by New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ Nursing Board or by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Also, keep in mind the following important items:

  • Medications: When scheduling an appointment, note the time of your last dose. Because massage increases circulation, medications may be pushed through the system more quickly. A good guideline is to begin your session at least one (1) hour after taking medications.
  • Hydration: Massage moves all the body’s fluids. After a session it is important to drink fluids to avoid dehydration. Water is best, but other choices work too.
  • Preventive Healthcare: The benefits of regular massage sessions are cumulative. As you receive treatments the body “remembers the way it was built to work” and is better able to reach and maintain its optimal functioning conditions. A “regular” schedule can be weekly, monthly or even quarterly sessions – whatever works best for you.

Clarification: If you don’t understand – ask for more information

  • Comfort: If a certain technique, or work in a particular area is uncomfortable - tell the therapist to change what he or she is doing.
  • Pain is counterproductive. Work that causes pain will make the body guard itself by tightening muscles which may cause more pain.

Control: It is up to YOU to decide when, how long, how often, and what type of massage you receive. Please remember to communicate with your therapist. You’re the Boss!


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