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How Can A Massage Help Me?


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How Can A Massage Help Me?

Q: Can getting a massage help me sleep better?


A: You bet it can! Massage therapy leads to a feeling of relaxation and calm, and clients often report a sense of clarity and perspective. Not only does massage therapy feel good physically, but it also seems to hit a mental “reset button,” leading to clearer thoughts and enhanced sleep. Massage therapy can also manage two common sleep stealers: stress and pain. (See “On the Inside,” page 10.) Massage therapy tackles stress on the physical level by easing muscle tightness and on the biochemical level by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol and prompting the release of endorphins, which make us feel good. Massage therapy has also been shown to mediate pain, which is very good news for people living with fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis or even cancer. The pain-lessening benefits of regular massage therapy lead to better sleep. Better sleep will ultimately give your body time to restore and heal.


—C.G. Funk, Licensed Massage Therapist and Vice President of Industry

Relations and Product Development for Massage Envy



Q: Can massage therapy enhance my exercise program?


A: Yes, it can! Massage therapy aids in overall blood circulation in the body. Increasing circulation means that more oxygen is delivered to the muscles to allow for longer endurance periods and toxins are removed quicker, which reduces recovery time and residual pain. Massage therapy also has been shown to improve range of motion which creates more flexibility in the body. Increased flexibility allows you to perform movements of the exercise more effectively and with greater ease. Massage therapy also improves overall muscle and joint strength which, along with increased flexibility, helps to prevent injuries to muscles, joints and tendons. Whether you are just getting started on an exercise program or are revising your current exercise routines, keep in mind that any new exercise activities require the body to engage in a variety of movements to perform effectively. The new movements introduced to the body will create different stress and strain on muscles and joints, which can often create increased stiffness and pain. Integrating massage therapy sessions into your regular schedule will enhance and benefit any exercise routine. Massage therapy can benefit everyone from the elite athlete to the casual walker or weekend warrior. All that hard work won’t pay if our muscles and over-stressed and strained. Receiving massage therapy on a regular basis helps us maintain overall health and wellness and will keep us enjoying our favorite exercise activities.


—C.G. Funk, Licensed Massage Therapist and Vice President of Industry

Relations and Product Development for Massage Envy



Q: Can regular massage help alleviate depression?


A: Yes, massage therapy can help those suffering from depression. Studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute, at the University of Miami School of Medicine, showed participants had reduced levels of anxiety and depression after receiving a series of massage therapy treatments. Massage therapy also positively impacts emotional and physical health by increasing feelings of overall well-being and improving responses to stress. Our skin has millions of nerve receptors linked to the nervous system. During massage, those receptors are stimulated, which signals the body to release “feel-good” chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin. Massage also can help reduce levels of your body’s stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, which can contribute to alleviating worry and tension. Depression comes in many forms and has many roots. While massage can be an important part of therapy for those suffering from depression, medication or psychotherapy also may be prescribed depending upon your symptoms. Always talk with your primary care doctor if you are concerned about depression. Your physician will help create the appropriate treatment plan for you.



Q: Can regular massage therapy during the winter months help keep me healthy?


A: Regular therapeutic massage can provide significant advantages beyond the immediate benefit of relaxation. People who experience high levels of stress tend to get sick more than others. Combine stress with lack of sleep and poor nutrition, and our body’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection is greatly reduced. Numerous studies have indicated that massage increases the immune system’s level of the body’s natural “killer cells,” which improves the body’s overall immune function. Regular massage therapy treatments help boost the immune system by directly affecting circulation and indirectly affecting your lymphatic system. The circulation of red and white blood cells increases, which in turn helps to rid your body of unwanted debris or waste products that can cause disease. When your immune system is stronger, your body is more prepared to defend itself against those cold and flu viruses going around your workplace, school or even your home during the winter months. So keep yourself healthy during the long winter months by scheduling regular massage appointments.


Q: How often should I receive a massage?


A: The amount of massages a person receives in a month can depend on many things: the type of massage being received, the recommendations of the massage therapist, the physical condition of the client and, of course, time and finances. People receive massages for many reasons. Some are looking for therapy that helps them to de-stress and relax. Some are receiving massage to help relieve the pain and discomfort of a physical condition and some integrate massage into their individual health and wellness regimen.

Massage therapy not only decreases pain and tension in muscles but also has other benefits such as improving posture, promoting a healthy circulatory system, improving flexibility, relieving stress and strengthening the immune system. The effects of massage are cumulative, and scheduling on a regular basis will increase the length of time these benefits are experienced. For a general recommendation of massage frequency, I would suggest receiving a massage at least twice a month in order to maintain the effects and results from each session. However, even receiving massage once a month will produce great results when scheduled on a regular basis.



Q: Is it OK to tell my massage therapist what I want out of my session; and, if so, what’s the best way to communicate with him or her?


A: It’s more than OK to talk to your massage therapist. In fact, you should never hesitate to communicate your needs and requests to your massage therapist before and during your massage session. Massage therapists are the experts when it comes to the choice and application of techniques they feel would best suit you—but you are the expert on yourself. Massage therapists want to hear from you and they know your satisfaction depends on how well they listen to and fulfill your requests. Your session should always begin with your therapist asking you about your reasons for getting a massage, your current physical condition, a brief medical history, lifestyle and stress level, and any areas of pain. During this initial interview, talk directly to your therapist about your expectations and requests. Although your massage therapist will check in with you a few times during the massage, it’s always acceptable for you to communicate with him or her at any time during the session.

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