Therapeutic touch is an instinctive and eloquent form of communication that has been molded into a healing art. Larry Costa, author of Massage: Mind and Body, writes that massage has many "physical and mental benefits, including ... relieving muscle soreness, increasing flexibility, easing chronic pain, reducing tension headaches, boosting the immune system, promoting restful sleep, and improving concentration." Massage positively affects the body's circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. By encouraging blood flow through the veins, massage benefits the entire body.
Advertisers and investment professionals are telling me the secret to improving my life is to give up my gourmet coffee. One pitch says if I sacrifice a daily $2.50 latte, I will have a king’s ransom in a year’s time. With so many people suggesting this approach for reallocating dollars, I’m starting to feel a little sorry for the coffee people. Still, the budget gurus have a point: We sometimes fritter away time and money because we aren’t making conscious choices.
Noted physician Andrew Weil, MD, author of Why Our Health Matters: A Vision of Medicine that Can Transform Our Future (Hudson Street Press, 2009) and a longtime proponent of integrative medicine, had a chance to sit down with Body Sense magazine to discuss the science behind massage and other effective complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments.
Loolwa Khazzoom: What do you see as the benefits of massage?
Many children love to be nurtured by their parents with a little massage. It's wonderful as part of a bedtime or naptime routine, or combined with rhymes and games during playtime. And nurturing touch has proven to be beneficial.
It’s no secret that proper nutrition, exercise, and living a low-stress lifestyle are among the keys to good health and longevity. If we pay close attention to these three cornerstones of our health, our body will reward us with vitality and well-being. Amazingly, even when our body gets a little out of balance—a sore tennis elbow, an irritating cold, or an achy neck from a tense business meeting—we are each equipped with a high-performing immune system miraculously designed to heal our body and protect us from disease.
Hydrotherapy treatments can be relaxing, healing ways to extend the benefits of your massage. Treatments you perform at home can help you take charge of your own health. Aches and pains, injuries, muscle tightness, and even joint stiffness can all be soothed with these simple, at-home hydrotherapy treatments.
How much time do you spend thinking about your body? Are the thoughts positive or negative?
In her book, Transforming Body Image (The Crossing Press, 1985), Marcia Hutchinson, EdD, suggests body image has little to do with the physical body. “Image and reality are separate,” she writes. And if body image is a product of the imagination, Hutchinson proposes that it can also be changed using the imagination.
All beings want to be happy and secure. All beings want to be free of pain and suffering. But how do we attain this ideal, earthly goal? Massage goes right to the heart of the matter. It can elevate us without alienating us from reality. Through massage, we can reach beyond the affliction of our mortality and embrace our impermanence.
I believe what we say to and about ourselves, becomes ourselves. Here is a depiction of that concept. Which list sounds most like you?
Anyone with recurring, unyielding back problems knows the beast that is called back pain. While most of us have experienced back pain that comes from overexertion or muscle pulls, the effects of back pain for many can be debilitating, excruciating, and life changing. Experts say back pain accounts for $100 billion in lost productivity and health-care costs each year and is one of the primary causes of work-related disability. Managing back pain can be a daunting and exhausting proposition. One natural avenue for finding relief is massage therapy.