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Massage is one of the oldest healing arts: Chinese records dating back 3,000 years document its use; the ancient Hindus, Persians and Egyptians applied forms of massage for many ailments; and Hippocrates wrote papers recommending the use of rubbing and friction for joint and circulatory problems. Today, the benefits are varied and far-reaching. As an accepted part of our physical rehabilitation programs, massage therapy has also proven beneficial for many chronic conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, bursitis, fatigue, high blood pressure, diabetes, immunity suppression, infertility, smoking cessation, depression, and more. And, as many millions will attest, massage also helps relieve the stress and tension of everyday living that can lead to disease and illness.
So What Is It Exactly?
Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body. Specifically:
Massage: The application of soft-tissue manipulation techniques to the body, generally intended to reduce stress and fatigue while improving circulation. The many variations of massage account for several different techniques.
Bodywork: Various forms of touch therapies that may use manipulation, movement, and/or re-patterning to affect structural changes to the body.
Somatic: Meaning "of the body." Many times this term is used to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach as distinguished from a physiology-only or environmental perspective.
There are hundreds of massage, bodywork, and somatic therapies and many practitioners utilize multiple techniques. The application of these techniques may include, but is not limited to, stroking, kneading, tapping, compression, vibration, rocking, friction, and pressure to the muscular structure or soft tissues of the human body. This may also include non-forceful passive or active movement and/or application of techniques intended to affect the energetic systems of the body. The use of oils, lotions, and powders may also be included to reduce friction on the skin.
Will My Insurance Cover It?
The services of a bodywork professional may be covered by health insurance as prescribed by our treating doctors. Therapies provided as part of a prescribed treatment by a registered therapist are often covered.
The Benefits Of Massage
What exactly are the benefits of receiving massage or bodywork treatments? Useful for all of the conditions listed below and more, massage can:
- Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
- Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
- Ease medication dependence.
- Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow-the body's natural defense system.
- Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
- Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
- Improve the condition of the body's largest organ-the skin.
- Increase joint flexibility.
- Lessen depression and anxiety.
- Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
- Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
- Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
- Reduce spasms and cramping.
- Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
- Release endorphins-amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
- Relieve migraine pain.
A Powerful Ally
There's no denying the power of bodywork. Regardless of the adjectives we assign to it (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we seek it out (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy can be a powerful ally in your healthcare regimen.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. While eliminating anxiety and pressure altogether in this fast-paced world may be idealistic, massage can, without a doubt, help manage stress. This translates into:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Enhanced sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improved concentration.
- Increased circulation.
- Reduced fatigue.
Furthermore, patients often report a sense of perspective and clarity after receiving a massage. The emotional balance bodywork provides can often be just as vital and valuable as the more tangible physical benefits.
In response to massage, specific physiological and chemical changes cascade throughout the body, with profound effects. Research shows that with massage:
- Arthritis sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain.
- Asthmatic children show better pulmonary function and increased peak air flow.
- High blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety, and stress hormones.
- Premenstrual syndrome sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping.
Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch-which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles. Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units. Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat post-surgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.
Increase the Benefits with Wellness Visits
Getting a massage can do you a world of good. And getting massage frequently can do even more. This is the beauty of bodywork. Taking part in this form of regularly scheduled self-care can play a huge part in how healthy you'll be and how youthful you'll remain with each passing year. Budgeting time and money for bodywork at consistent intervals is truly an investment in your health. And remember: just because massage feels like a pampering treat doesn't mean it is any less therapeutic. Consider massage appointments a necessary piece of your health and wellness plan, and work with your practitioner to establish a treatment schedule that best meets your needs.