The benefits of massage of the human body have been recognized since the first cave man stubbed his toe. Massage is the most natural form of health remedy. The touch of hands upon another body can be one of the most powerful forms of healing.
Massage therapy has gone through many changes through centuries of human medical care but it still remains an effective treatment for body, mind and soul. While frequently under-valued and over-looked as part of a holistic approach to good health, massage therapy is an essential part of a balanced, healthy life.
Benefits of Massage Therapy
- Stress Relief
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Improve Range of Motion and Flexibility
- Improve Circulation
- Improve Recovery From Injury
- Promote Overall Physical Well Being
Just as there are many conditions of the body and mind that can benefit from massage therapy, there are many different types of massage, some dating back thousands of years. Old World medical care would not have been complete without a wide variety of ways to treat the body with healing hands.
Types of Massage Therapy
- Swedish Massage also known as Relaxing Massage
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Sports Massage
- Prenatal Massage
- Geriatric Massage
- Hot Stone Massage
My Experience With Massage Therapy
My first massage was part of a gift package for a full day at a spa more than twenty years ago but I remember it as if it were yesterday. What a perfect gift for a hard working mother of three young sons! And what a wonderful experience – my first relaxing, one hour massage.
Several years later, I was fortunate enough to embark on a four day ocean cruise with my family. As any seasoned cruiser knows, most ships have spa services on board including very soothing and inviting massage services. So, not only have I become an avid cruiser, but my vacation is never complete without my ocean massage!
As the years passed and my body began to rebel against the abuses I inflicted on it over time, I began to look toward a better way to rid myself of the aches and pains associated with issues such as mouse-itis. (My doctor called it tennis elbow but we both knew it was from very consistent use of the computer mouse.) I also began to notice that my knees were on the painful joint list. It seemed the list of aches and pains was growing every day. I could no longer walk down a flight of stairs or lift my right arm higher than my shoulder.
I could no longer ignore the chronic rotator cuff pain and chronic knee pain which was diagnosed as Chondromalacia patella, the softening and breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that lines the underside of the kneecap (patella). Ice, anti-inflammatory pills and exercise were prescribed for both to reduce the swelling which was causing the pain and strengthen the muscles around the affected joints, reducing the amount of stress to the weak spots.
That’s when my search began for a better way to care for the parts of my body that were giving me so much grief. I didn’t want to live on ice packs and pain killers and I didn’t want to stop my regular activities. I wanted the best of both worlds.
I made an appointment with a chiropractor to try to get my body in better shape to start physical therapy. The first few visits were very effective, giving me some hope for recovery but the doctor wanted me to keep coming on a regular basis. To me that’s just the same as taking pills on a regular basis.
That’s when someone suggested trying massage therapy, not as an immediate replacement for the doctor or the pain killers, but over time, massage therapy could become my treatment, leaving the doctors and the pain killers for those times when I’m sick or in more serious pain.
I did a lot of research and found that my insurance carrier would pay for massage therapy that was prescribed by my doctor or chiropractor. Nice! I even found a chiropractor who had a massage therapy center attached to his office. He was a provider for my insurance company! I was in the best hands, being treated by a licensed massage therapist twice a month for my tennis elbow, chronic rotator cuff pain, aching knees and incredibly tense neck and shoulder muscles.
Within two months I was pain free, drug free, stress free and ready for just a maintenance treatment every other month.
That’s when the entire operation was shut down. Doors closed, locked, lights out, no phones, no nothing. It would appear that while my therapy was everything I needed, the Attorney General was not impressed and, well, it appears the operation was not being run as it should.
Left on my own, I was determined to keep looking for a doctor with the facilities and the belief to use both exercise and massage to help me maintain my pain free and drug free existence.
I’m still looking.
I did find one practice that appeared promising on the surface but at my first appointment I found that his receptionist was not entirely honest about being a provider to my insurance company. In addition, rather than discuss the parts of my body that were in need of care, his first goal was to get me signed up to his “I’ll cure you in a month” food plan which would cost me a cool couple hundred dollars a month!
Disappointing, to say the least. I never went back. Instead, I began my own research of available therapists and the types of massage therapy that could be found in my location. While I am currently paying for massage therapy out of my own pocket, it’s a major part of what keeps my body moving, my mind clear and my soul refreshed.