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Massage therapy isn’t just a luxury anymore and has actually become
a vital part of health care practices worldwide. It is a holistic
therapy that has shown positive effects on physical and mental
health in addition to enhancing medical treatments. Having a massage
does more than just relax the body and mind. There are measurable
physiological and psychological changes that occur; especially when
massage is used as a preventative and continuous therapy. The
effects of massage on the body’s systems can be profound, directly
impacting our immune system, digestion, respiration, circulation,
nervous system, muscle health and more. It has been said that,
“Massage is to the human body what a tune-up is for a car.”
Experts estimate that 80-90 percent of disease is directly related
to stress, therefore, massage is one way to combat the effects of
stress and promote relaxation. In addition, massage can lower blood
pressure, increase circulation, improve recovery from injury, help
fight fatigue, promote more restful sleep and increase
concentration. Pain relief can also be achieved by the stroking of
the affected muscles to increase blood flow throughout the body.
This in turn brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles and helps
eliminate acids and accumulated waste products. Other benefits
include relief of mental stress, peace of mind, reduction of
anxiety, and an increased capacity for calm thinking and creativity.
The satisfaction of our need for caring and nurturing touch directly
leads to a feeling of well-being.
Current research shows that more people are getting massages and as
they become more mainstream, they are now appealing to all age
groups. Recent national surveys have found that many physicians are
encouraging patients to pursue massage as a treatment. In addition,
the number of hospitals that offer massage therapy as a patient
service has increased by more than one third over the past two
years. Some employers have also found that offering massage therapy
during break times actually increased staff alertness, motivation
and productivity and reduced sick leave days.
Massage is suggested on nearly every caregiver self-help list, yet
it seems that only a small percentage actually takes advantage of
its benefits. Modesty, unfamiliarity or lack of information about
the massage experience may prevent caregivers from participating in
a valuable form of self-care and positive, healing touch. The
following paragraphs provide caregivers with the information they
will need to make an informed decision about massage.