By Karrie Osborn
Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn 2011.
It could be that ache in your back, or that pain in your hip. It could be what the doctor prescribes for your postsurgical recovery. It could be because your 10 work deadlines, five appointments, and three kids’ soccer games have just about put you over the edge this week.
There are many reasons you might seek out massage, and each session might find you on the massage table for different objectives. Here are just a few of the reasons you should call your massage therapist today.
Research Shows It Works
Whether it’s the fact that massage improves the weight gain and development of preterm infants or that massage helps relieve debilitating pain in elderly stroke patients, research continues to prove out the numerous, life-changing benefits of massage.
Andrew Weil, MD, noted physician and proponent of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), says the research surrounding massage has given it strong legs to stand on in today’s health-care system. “I am a strong advocate of massage therapy and feel that it fits extremely well into the paradigm of integrative medicine,” he says. “Much of my firm support for massage therapy stems from the existence of a compelling research base. It’s also one of the CAM therapies most readily accepted by conventional medical doctors and hospital administrators.”
Stress is Sent Packing
Experts tell us that stress is a killer and that the majority of disease today is stress-related. Massage can wash that stress away, and with it, all the detrimental effects it carries. With massage, stress might never reach the physiologically dangerous levels where the immune system is suppressed or the nervous system is sent into an alarm state. A “relaxation” massage can be just as valuable to you as a more medically structured massage protocol meant to rehabilitate an injury.
Mark Rapaport, MD, with the Cedars-Sinai Medial Center, has found that massage in even the smallest doses can change things, like increasing white blood cells counts for immunity building and decreasing harmful stress hormones. In studies he’s conducted, he’s found that biological changes can begin with a single massage session. More frequent massage, however, not only improves your health, but can be life-changing, says Anne Williams, director of education at Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals. “People regularly make a commitment to fitness. People regularly make a commitment to changing their diet. The difference they’d experience if they regularly made a commitment to massage is mind-blowing.”