People get massage for many different reasons. Some enjoy a massage once in a while, as a treat, just because it feels good. Others go regularly for a short time to treat a specific injury, such as muscle spasm, low back pain or headaches, or to heal following an accident. Still others see it as a regular part of a wellness routine that treats both mind and body, opening them up to a whole different level of healing, self-awareness, and physical and mental health.
Massage is received through the skin – the largest organ in the body. The right touch alone can be a magnificent healer. You just need to be aware of what you are looking for so you can choose the best option for you.
All of these are great reasons to get a massage and there are different benefits to be gained by each.
The "feel good" massage
Like the restaurant you go to when you want to treat yourself – a pleasant little splurge.
This is a massage you have once in a while, perhaps every couple of months, or once or twice a year. Whatever the frequency, it feels great, and there is absolute deliciousness in surrendering to a skilled, experienced massage therapist who can make you feel “transported” the way a good, deep, thorough massage sometimes can. This type of massage serves as a reminder of where your body carries tension, point to possible problem areas and be very helpful during stressful times. And it feels so good!
The medical model treatment massage
Like your prescription medication – you wouldn't consider not taking it. It is part of the healing process.
“Medical model” refers to a model of treatment in which a particular pathology is diagnosed and treatment is prescribed.
The medical massage focuses on the condition that the patient presents, and finds the most efficient way of treating it to make it better. These massages are usually shorter in duration, and not necessarily “relaxing” in the traditional way.
For people who have accident-related injuries, or are recovering from surgery, or who suffer from chronic problems related to misuse or overuse of a particular body part, massage can help directly by affecting the soft tissue (muscles, tendons and ligaments) through passive stretching and other well-placed techniques that help recover flexibility, thereby reducing the likelihood of compensatory problems in the surrounding muscle tissue and the rest of the body.A knowledgable, medically trained massage therapist can work with your body to resolve the issue and help you understand how to keep it from recurring. It works!
The preventive massage
This is more like the wine (or coffee, or organic vegetables, or special bread) you simply cannot do without and you’ll drive across town for. It simply improves your quality of life.
I know what you're thinking…
...a little prevention... can go a long way toward creating a balanced, healthy body.
Therapeutic massage is a nice idea, but you can't afford to go regularly.
What if I were to be so bold as to suggest that you can't afford NOT to?
What I see in my office, year after year, are people who have waited until a problem has become chronic, and now they have to spend a lot of time (and money) to undo the damage.
One of the greatest benefits of regular massage is the awareness it brings to what we are holding in our bodies – where the tension is, where the imbalances are, where we need to stretch and strengthen in order to support the postures we have to hold doing the things we need to do, at work, exercise or play. Massage is a modality like others, such as regular stretching, yoga, strengthening, pilates, other forms of exercise, a wholesome diet, meditation, etc., all of which are ways to maintain the balance of health and strength we all strive for.
Our bodies can put up with a lot. For decades, it would appear. Then, usually sometime during our 40s, we reach a limit. Our bodies say STOP. We have handled this position/posture/overuse for long enough. When our bodies start talking back we are forced to listen.
It would be wonderful if we listened earlier, before the stand-off begins, but we rarely do. We almost always wait until the pain is too great and preventing us from doing what we love or need to do. By that time, there is much more damage to undo. Why do we all do this? It must be human nature.
I am suggesting that a little prevention – and a very pleasurable form of it, I might add – can go a long way toward creating a balanced, healthy body.
Imagine your muscles being passively stretched and gently but firmly squeezed by a sensitive, well-trained, experienced professional who knows how everything is connected. This continues until all tension dissolves and your bloodstream is flooded with a lovely flow of endorphins and other unpronounceable chemicals that bathe your body and mind in peace and contentment. Imagine setting aside the time (and yes, the money) just for you – like you do for your favourite coffee, wine or restaurant. Nothing is required of you other than showing up. You can just relax and decompress, have your body truly nourished, and any little day-to-day soft tissue complaints will be dealt with as they arise. Say aaaaahhhhhhhhh….