There's no denying a massage is calming -- until you start feeling guilty for indulging in a little special treatment.
A small new study excuses us all from the guilt: Massage therapy isn't just a way to relax, it's also a way to alleviate muscle soreness after exercise and improve blood flow, according to the recent research.
Other benefits of massage have long been touted, but research is usually limited. Still, we think there are some pretty good reasons to book an appointment ASAP.
Massage can reduce pain.
A 2011 study found that massage helped people with low back pain to feel and function better, compared to people who didn't get a rubdown. That's good news for the eight in 10 Americans who will experience debilitating back pain at least once in their lives, Time.com reported.
"We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise and yoga," Dan Cherkin, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said in a press release.
Massage also seems to lessen pain among people with osteoarthritis.
It can help you sleep.
The calming treatment can also help you spend more time asleep, according to research from Miami University's Touch Research Institute. "Massage helps people spend more time in deep sleep, the restorative stage in which your body barely moves," the Institute's founder Tiffany Field, Ph.D., told More magazine in 2012.
In one study of people with fibromyalgia, 30-minute massages three times a week for five weeks resulted in nearly an hour more of sleep, plus deeper sleep, she said.
Massage may ward off colds.
There's a small body of research that suggests massages boost immune function. A 2010 study, believed to be the largest study on massage's effects on the immune system, found that 45 minutes of Swedish massage resulted in significant changes in white blood cells and lymphocytes, which help protect the body from bugs and germs.
It could make you more alert.
At least one study has linked massage to better brainpower. In a 1996 study, a group of adults completed a series of math problems faster and with more accuracy after a 15-minute chair massage than a group of adults who were told to just sit in a chair and relax during those 15 minutes.
Massage may ease cancer treatment.
Among patients receiving care for cancer, studies have noted multiple benefits of massage, including improved relaxation, sleep and immune system function as well as decreased fatigue, pain, anxiety and nausea.
It may alleviate depression symptoms.
A 2010 review of the existing studies examining massage in people with depression found that all 17 pieces of research noted positive effects. However, the authors recommended additional research into standardizing massage as treatment and the populations who would most benefit from it.
Massage could help with headaches.
The power of touch seems to help limit headache pain. A 2002 study found that massage therapy reduced the frequency of chronic tension headaches. And in a very small 2012 study, 10 male patients with migraine headaches noted significant pain reduction after neck and upper back massage and manipulation. You may even be able to reap the benefits without seeing a professional: Start by applying gentle pressure with your fingertips to your temples, then move them in a circular motion along the hairline until they meet in the middle of your forehead, WebMD reported.
The stress reduction is scientific.
Between the dim lights, soothing music and healing touch, it certainly feels like stress melts away during a massage, but research suggests a very literal reduction of cortisol, a major stress hormone. Chronically high levels of cortisol can contribute to serious health issues, like high blood pressure and blood sugar, suppressed immune system function and obesity.
About the Aging Body
Perhaps like no other profession, massage therapy provides benefits to a wide range of people. Yes, there are contraindications that need to be monitored, but generally speaking, young and old, healthy and ailing—most everyone gains from regular massage therapy sessions.
True, too, however, is the idea that massage therapy is never one-size-fits-all. Even among your clients who don't have specific conditions, you don’t simply massage them the exact same way. Every client—every body—is different, and these differences are what dictate how a massage therapy session and treatment plan are developed.
The idea of individualizing a massage therapy session is particularly important when dealing with a specific demographic. When working with elderly clients, there are myriad factors—both physical and mental—that need to be considered. Following are some of the essentials.
The Aging Body Until the fountain of youth is discovered, people will continue to get older—and the natural process of aging will continue to change them, both physically and mentally. Skin wrinkles and sags, tearing more easily and healing more slowly. Respiratory changes happen, and people generally start to see decreases in muscle and bone mass, sometimes reducing their strength and flexibility, or increasing their risk for osteoarthritis.
The gastrointestinal system also starts to slow down, so older clients might be more prone to heartburn. A reduction in cerebral blood flow may lead to changes in sensitivity to pain, cold intolerance, and decreases in balance and coordination. The heart begins to enlarge, too, thickening and narrowing vascular walls, and sometimes causing an increase in blood pressure and a decrease in circulation.
If it sounds like the aging body is all about slowing down and change, that’s only part of the story—but an important part nonetheless. Being aware of some of these common differences in an aging body gives massage therapists a good place to start when working with these clients.
The Power of One As a massage therapist, you tailor each session to the needs of the client, and this practice becomes particularly important when working with special populations. You understand there are additional considerations when working with clients who have diabetes, for example, or cancer patients. (For more information on massaging clients with cancer, see Massaging Clients With Cancer in the Winter 2010 issue of Massage Therapy Journal). And the same holds true when working with the elderly.
According to Susan Salvo, a massage therapist with 27 years experience with massage and adult education, one of the major differences massage therapists are going to find with elderly clients involves general health and medication. “The body naturally ages, affecting a person’s health,” she says. “90 percent of the elderly are reported to have at least one chronic medical condition, and the majority has multiple conditions.” Further, she explains, many of these medical conditions are managed with medication. Add to these facts that more than half are dealing with some type of disability—whether sensory, physical or mental—and the need for individualized treatment plans is obvious. “Massage therapists need to be able to ascertain,by observation and questioning, if the elderly client is robust and fit or frail,” says Salvo. “Then, modify the massage accordingly.”
Doing a thorough intake, critical with every client you work with, perhaps becomes even more so for aging clients. You need to inquire about any medication they are using, as well as if there are special needs or concerns that have to be accounted for during the massage session. Remember, too, that you might need to assist with the intake form, perhaps reading the questions to the client.
You’re also going to want to limit stretches and joint mobilizations, as well. “Use gentle stretching and joint movements, such as rocking,” Salvo suggests. “Avoid extreme mobilizations, which may harm a client with osteoporosis.” Because falling is the most common safety issue for people over 65, be sure the walkways—both outdoors and inside your practice—are clear. Replace any eyewear you removed during the session, and remind the client to sit up for a moment before standing. “You need to be ready to assist, too,” Salvo explains.
On a more personal level, Salvo notes, massage therapists need to respect the slower pace of these clients. “Allow extra time for clients to undress, as sometimes they’ll be wearing layers and layers of clothing,” she says. “Be sure to account for transition time, or time to hear a story.” Remember, Salvo explains, these clients are going through lifestyle and emotional changes, such as retirement, reduced income or the loss of loved ones. “Cultivate patience, tolerance, kindness and attentiveness,” Salvo encourages. “Don’t be afraid to touch someone, and use common sense and good judgment" like Anu at Indo-pak Massage Therapy, www.indopakmassage.com, beats membership fees and higher prices of other spas like massage envy or massage green.
Increase Mental Awareness and Slow Aging with Ayurvedic Massage (origins from Kerala, India)
Giving yourself a daily self-massage with aromatherapy massage oils is a deeply healing and deeply enjoyable practice that activates the body's inner pharmacy and slows the aging process. This ancient holistic tradition from India is known as Abhyanga or Ayurvedic massage. Ayurvedic massage enhances health by creating a balance of mind, body, and spirit. Depending upon your unique mind-body type (dosha), your massage technique can be gentle or more vigorous.
When stimulated through therapeutic touch or massage, the skin releases a pharmacy of healing chemicals that have health-promoting effects on the physiology. In addition to feeling good, regular massage and loving touch detoxifies the body's tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function.
Ayurvedic massage uses special oils. Unlike massage oils used in the Western world, Ayurvedic oils are specially crafted medicinal substances that can be used both internally and externally. Ayurvedic herbs and botanical extracts recommended for skin and muscle-toning are selected and blended into a pure cold-pressed sesame oil base, according to age-old methods using special clay fire places and pure copper vessels. Traditionally, sesame oil is used as base oil in a majority of the Ayurvedic preparations, due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to penetrate through the subtle channels of the body.
The Ayurvedic massage starts with undressing and, beginning with a small amount of oil in your hands, gently rubbing the oil into your scalp. Massage the oil into your scalp and hair with your fingertips. Next, work down your body (gently or vigorously) until the oil has been massaged into every part of your body. Use long strokes on your limbs and circular strokes over all your joints, chest and abdomen. Take ample time to massage the soles of your feet as this can have a particularly relaxing and soothing affect.
After completing the massage simply rinse off the excess oil in the shower. Take time in the shower to allow the oil on your hands to mix with the water from the shower to massage your face and ears. Use gentle circular strokes to massage your cheeks and forehead, move out towards the ears in stroking motions around the eyes and lips.
The benefits• Increased blood circulation
• Toning of the muscles
• Calming nerves
• Lubrication of joints
• Increased mental alertness
• Elimination of impurities
• Softer, smoother skin
• Increased levels of stamina
• Better, deeper sleep
• Enhance immune function
• Healthier looking skin
Ayurvedic massage is a simple, low cost, and effective and enjoyable way to naturally help your body rid itself of impurities and achieve a higher state of well-being and wellness. -by Chris Sumbs
Shout out this week to us.Riya.travel.com, eknazar.com, and thawerlaw.com
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Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/041238_ayurvedic_massage_self_healing_essential_oils.html#ixzz2lKELipX2
What is Massage Good For?
What is massage? Massage is rubbing the soft tissues of the body, such as the muscles. Massage may be helpful in reducing tension and pain, improving blood flow, and encouraging relaxation. Massage therapists usually apply pressure with their hands, but they can also use their forearms, elbows, or feet. There are at least 80 different types of massage. Some are gentle, and some are very active and intense.
For example, Swedish massage is very gentle and is often used to promote relaxation, improve blood flow, and relieve muscle tension. The therapist uses long, gliding strokes and kneading and tapping techniques on the top layer of muscles in the direction of blood flow to the heart. This may also include moving the joints gently to improve range of motion.
The holidays offer plenty of reasons to be stressed out and anxious -- the gifts you haven’t wrapped, the pile of cookie exchange invites, the office parties. But for many, the biggest source of holiday stress is family -- the family dinner, the obligations, and the burden of family tradition. And if you’re fighting clinical depression, or have had depression in the past, the holiday stress can be a trigger for more serious problems. “There’s this idea that holiday gatherings with family are...
Deep tissue massage is more active and intense. It is used to treat long-lasting muscle tension. The therapist applies slow strokes (with the fingers, thumbs, and elbows) using intense pressure to reach deeper layers of the muscles than those reached with a Swedish massage technique.
You can use self-massage to unwind after work or school, or to energize yourself in the morning. You can easily massage your feet, hands, or neck while doing other tasks or while relaxing. Self-massage works best if you are in comfortable clothes and are sitting or lying in a comfortable position. Use oil or lotion to massage bare skin.
Trigger point massage is less gentle and can sometimes be uncomfortable. The therapist applies firm pressure to knots or tight, tense muscles that have been overused or injured, continuing until the muscles relax. Let your massage therapist know if you feel any discomfort during the massage.
Some people feel that massage works because the touch is healing. Touch also communicates a sense of caring.
What is massage used for? People use massage to promote relaxation and relieve pain. It can also relieve muscle tension and may improve blood flow, relieve pressure on nerves, and restore normal joint movement.
Is massage safe? When done properly, massage is considered safe. Certification by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) ensures that your massage therapist has a certain level of training and uses certain practice guidelines. Keep in mind that massage may be expensive, is generally not covered by insurance, and requires a time commitment. However at Indo-Pak Massage Therapy, you pay a flat $40 for a Swedish massage session every time rather than just the first Introductory session like most spas offer. You also get 1 Free swedish massage session after every five!
Always tell your doctor if you are using an alternative therapy or if you are thinking about combining an alternative therapy with your conventional medical treatment. It may not be safe to forgo your conventional medical treatment and rely only on an alternative therapy.
As more and more people are discovering, massage therapy and healing touch therapies are proving to be extremely good medicine for treating those with chronic diseases such as cancer, osteoporosis, depression, and even circulatory disorders. There are several good reasons for this, such as the fact that massage therapy helps move lymph fluid around the body and oxygenate organs and tissues. Plus, there's probably something healthy going on in the fact that human touch is taking place. However, there is a widespread belief, especially among the leaders in Western medicine, that massage therapy can't possibly be considered a medical treatment. Most insurance companies still refuse to pay for massage therapies, and few doctors prescribe it, although the number of doctors recommending it has been increasing over the last few years. I believe that massage therapy is shunned by the medical community primarily because it is considered an unsophisticated treatment -- you don't need a medical degree to give someone an effective massage. There's not a lot of equipment involved in massage therapy, it doesn't have a lot of cool technology, and it doesn't require years of training. And thus, it is looked upon as something that is below Western medicine, both by doctors and by many patients.
But all of this is a distortion -- something doesn't have to be complicated or cool to be effective as a healing treatment. Massage therapy gets to the fundamentals -- that is, the power of human touch, and the spiritual healing potential of one person's hands touching another person's body along with positive healing intent. These are timeless principles of healing that don't require technology to be effective.
Given that massage therapy and therapeutic touch are so effective in helping patients heal themselves, I find it astounding to observe the lack of physical contact between doctors and their patients in clinics and hospitals across the country. Doctors almost seem scared to touch their patients, and in fact, many doctors don't want to be touched, either. This lack of touch keeps everything at a "safe distance" - it makes their interactions non-personal and sterile. It also allows the doctor to keep patients at a distance, where they can perceive them as patients with patient IDs rather than human beings with souls and spirits and emotions. It is this distance -- this chasm between doctors and patients -- that contributes to the lack of effectiveness in modern medicine.
True healers are willing to get involved with their patients in terms of understanding them, seeing the world from their perspective, and even touching them in a healing way with positive intent. That's why our modern physicians are outstanding technicians, but terrible healers. Personally, I would much rather see a massage therapist than a physician, unless I were suffering from sort of radical, acute injury such as an accident in which case, of course, Western doctors and surgeons are the very best in the world. But when it comes to treating chronic disease and maintaining a high degree of health on a regular basis, massage therapy and healing touch offer an outstanding system of healing that I highly recommend.
Natural Ways Beat Stress & Anxiety
These hard economic times bring along with them record stress levels as people cope with a variety of anxiety-inducing issues. Instead of resorting to prescription drugs, many people have begun to seek natural alternatives for controlling stress and anxiety.
Relaxing therapies like massage, yoga and reiki have enjoyed an increased popularity over these past few years as people struggle to cope with a range of burdens. Massage therapy, which used to primarily be used by women, has experienced a huge surge in male patronage. Massage has a variety of benefits that extend beyond the relaxation of the session itself.
Regular massage can improve your circulation, reduce chronic anxiety, promote natural bodily healing processes, relieve muscle tension, and lower blood pressure. Regular massage is usually characterized as once or twice per month. Reasonable packages can now be found in several massage service chains, as well as locally owned businesses.
Yoga is another excellent stress relieving practice that can also tone the body and provide excellent fitness benefits. Yoga is particularly helpful in managing stress even after your regular sessions because it helps you to master deep breathing. It helps you to control your respiration during stressful times, which eases the impact of anxiety on the heart and other body functions.
Yoga has also been associated with lower blood pressure, improved mood, better immunity and improved gastrointestinal health. Often times stress is associated with digestive and gastrointestinal discomfort, high blood pressure and poor immune function. For many people, yoga really helps with curbing stress and a lot of its related physical manifestations.
Exercise, in general, is an excellent antidote to anxiety. Multiple studies have shown that regular aerobic exercise reduces the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, circulating in the blood stream. Exercise also elevates our levels of feel good hormones such as serotonin. Serotonin, one of the main neurochemicals responsible for elevated mood, can be greatly reduced by periods of anxiety.
Increasing the circulation of these natural chemicals in the body greatly increases our ability to deal with distressing or frustrating situations. The simple act of intense aerobic activity also can help you vent your frustrations and distract you from ruminating about a particular problem.
Reiki is another practice that has gained in popularity the past few years. Reiki originated in Japan. It is a healing and relaxing therapy; whereby, the practitioner transfers his or her healing power to the patient via light touch on affected body parts. It is primarily used to help heal physical ailments, but also has been used as a relaxation and meditation therapy.
If you are looking for a natural supplement that can help reduce anxiety, there are a few that seem to be helpful for a majority of people that take them. The first is St. John's Wort, which is used as both a natural antidepressant and anxiety remedy.
Passion flower is used for relaxation and easing of tension associated with chronic stress. Kava is another herbal remedy that is used to help combat anxiety and calm nerves. Kava is also very useful as a natural sleep aid.
Massages are a great way to release tension and stress and promote relaxation. But a new study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine has revealed for the first time that massages also provide a measurable, therapeutic benefit to the immune system as well.
Dr. Mark Rapaport and his team of researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., evaluated 53 people, 29 of which received 45-minute Swedish massages--one of the most common forms of massage used in the U.S.--and 24 who received gentler, light touch massages. Researchers took blood samples at intervals before and after the massages and found that those who received even just one Swedish massage experienced significant, positive changes in blood composition.
"This research indicates that massage doesn't only feel good, it also may be good for you," explained Dr. Rapaport in a press release. "People often seek out massage as part of a healthy lifestyle but there hasn't been much physiological proof of the body's heightened immune response following massage until now."
Besides experiencing a significant increase in lymphocytes, the white cells in the body that help fight and prevent disease, the Swedish massage group experienced lower cortisol levels as well. Cortisol is the hormone released by the adrenal gland in response to stress.
The Swedish massage group also experienced a decrease in arginine vasopressin, a hormone linked with aggressive behavior.
"European-style massage is often used to treat back pain, sleep disorders, and other stress-related disorders," explain Bradley J. Willcox, D. Craig Willcox and Makoto Suzuki in their book The Okinawa Program: How the World's Longest-Lived People Achieve Everlasting Health.
Massage Therapy Benefits
Ancient Western and Eastern civilizations dating back as far as 3000 years discovered that massage and touch therapy have many health benefits. From being rendered a disreputable form of indulgence, massage is now seen as a holistic method of healing, which is practiced all over the world today. Benefits range from relieving migraines and stress relief to improving circulation and having the ability to rehabilitate physical functions.
Tense muscles can cause the body to lose its natural balance. This can lead to pain as other muscles in the body tense to try to compensate for those which are causing the initial pain. It soon becomes a chain reaction, which causes the problem to spread, often quite far from the initial problem area. Experienced massage therapists will be able to locate the source of the problem and thus begin the healing process. This in turn may be able to assist a person with eliminating a dependence on pain medication.
Massage therapy assists with releasing endorphins into the body, which can help with pain relief. It is able to lessen depression and anxiety while improving the condition of the skin, which is the largest organ of the body. Those suffering from lower back pain are able to experience relief as well as a greater range of motion after a massage treatment.
Massage has also been shown to assist with other conditions such as blood pressure control, immune system boosting, infant growth and sports-related injuries. Research has also shown that massage can be beneficial to autistic children, who seemed to display less erratic behavior after a massage session. Office workers who make use of massage therapy tend to be more alert and display less stress than those who don`t. Patients who have undergone any form of abdominal surgery tend to heal quicker when making use of massage therapy. It also decreases itching, anxiety, pain, depression and tension in patients suffering from burns.
Premature babies also benefit from massage therapy, as research has shown that infants who receive massage therapy grow and develop faster than those who don`t. Those suffering from cancer were also reported to be less anxious after receiving massage therapy. It also increases lymph flow and stimulates weak muscles. It is also able to reduce cramps and swelling in the body.
It is important that massage therapy be done by qualified therapists. It is also not recommended for people who suffer from open wounds, fractures, severe osteoporosis or blood clots. Pregnant women should also exercise caution with regards to massage therapy.
Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/031738_massage_therapy_health_benefits.html#ixzz24QeNmOT1
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