It's time to get a massage. As long as there have been human beings, there has been massage, but far too many people have gone through decades of living without a single professional massage. There are more reasons to get a massage than I can write, but I will highlight some of the obvious and not so obvious reasons why you need one…soon.
Physiologically, massage increases circulation and this enhanced blood flow brings more oxygen and nutrients to the surface to promote health and healing of the tissues. Muscle fibers are supposed to work independently of each other, but muscles tend to dehydrate, causing the fibers to stick together and become stiff. Massage reintroduces fluid into the muscles to promote greater flexibility and to help return them to a more normal state. Just about everyone has numerous "knots" in their muscles that need this type of treatment. Knots that have been left untreated almost always lead to pain down the road.
Normal metabolism leaves behind toxins as a by-product, especially in areas of past trauma or chronic tension. Massage is one of the best ways to release these toxins. While massage is performed on the surface, internal organ systems as well as the nervous system, the immune system, and other systems can also benefit. There can be an overall improvement in quality of life and physical health due to the complicated physiological processes initiated by massage.
Psychologically, massage makes us feel comforted, relaxed and nurtured. Who doesn't deserve to feel this way? It temporarily removes us from our stressful and fast-paced lives. I have heard many people saying they are uncomfortable or self-conscious when being touched by another person, even in a professional setting. Rest assured that a professional is not judging your body, but rather focusing on the quality and feel of your muscles. Denying yourself this due to insecurities is excluding one of the five senses your body needs.
Our society tends to maintain a "hands off" approach with interactions on social and professional levels. Safe and appropriate touch is one of the most beneficial ways to provide emotional well being. The simple act of touching a person while communicating makes the encounter much more personal and it conveys warmth and caring better than any words.
The energy transfer involved with touch between two people is mutual. Electromagnetic energy is transferred from the giver to the receiver and back. It is from this exchange of life energy that true healing occurs. Eastern medicine refers to this energy as "Chi" and it forms the foundation for much of the Eastern techniques, like acupuncture.
A large part of my success with patients comes from my hands-on approach with each and every patient. Being a physical therapist, the tools of touch and feel are the most critical components for manual treatments and assessment of the body. No instrument or tool can replace the information obtained and treatment given by skilled hands.
Professional massage therapists offer a wide variety of styles of massage to address individual needs and preferences. From a relaxing Swedish massage with long, even strokes to a deep tissue massage with firm, sustained pressure to an energy-focused Reiki approach to hot stone or bamboo, you can find easily find one style that suits you best.
However, you do not even need a professional in order to give or receive a massage. It is a gift of health you can exchange with loved ones over and over that doesn't cost a thing! A system that works well is "5 and 5" where you alternate giving and receiving massages at five minute intervals with a partner. Even just five minutes at the end of a long day is a treat. Or, you can get an electric chair massager relatively inexpensively to do the job (human touch is preferred, though).
I do strongly recommend being professionally massaged on a regular basis to have a full body work-up or target specific areas. You owe it to yourself to allow this indulgence as often as you can afford—weekly, monthly or even yearly would be better than never.