Much of what we have learned over the past decade about the physiological and psychological effects of massage therapy has been generated by researchers at the Touch Research Institute (TRI) in Miami, Fla. Their investigations cover a wide range of medical conditions, subjects, and ages, in a variety of applications. We know from these studies, for instance, that massage appears to reduce anxiety and depression, positively alter biochemical markers, and stimulate growth in preterm infants.
Author’s note: With greater societal acceptance of complementary therapies, many more doors have opened for massage therapists. I went through one of those doors when I became a certified infant massage instructor in the Perinatal and Neonatal Units at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., where I have practiced since 1992. This is my story.
As you lie on the table under crisp, fresh sheets, hushed music draws you into the moment. The smell of sage fills the air and you hear the gentle sound of massage oil being warmed in your therapist’s hands. The pains of age, the throbbing from your overstressed muscles, the sheer need to be touched — all cry out for therapeutic hands to start their work. Once the session gets underway, the problems of the world fade into an oblivious 60 minutes of relief and all you can comprehend right now is not wanting it to end.