“A healer is not someone that you go to for healing. A healer is someone that triggers within you, your own ability to heal yourself.” – Unknown
By Susan Tretakis – Today – more than ever – Massage Therapy is being recognized as a major player in the field of alternative medicine. I am thrilled that Massage Therapy has moved away from being viewed as an extra luxury on a cruise or an additional menu item at a five star hotel. The current state of healthcare makes this the perfect time for Massage Therapy to be recognized as a critical piece of the complementary health care chart.
To be honest, my journey into self-care began before Chiropractics, Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs and Traditional Chinese Medicine. My actual journey began when I was the counselor for the Licensed Massage Therapy Program offered at the post-secondary technical college where I was employed. It was a journey fueled by five years of developing and refining a curriculum with an incredibly competent and compassionate teacher and meeting and working with local business personnel. This, combined with State-mandated placement “follow” up on program completers who both passed the State Board and found in-field employment gave me profound respect for Massage Therapy – as well as its practitioners.
That respect was only enhanced by the very big bonus of being able to visit the massage therapy classroom every week during designated “faculty clinic times”. There, I experienced how gently and effectively my aching shoulders, neck and back could be eased back into place after being scrunched over a telephone, computer and/or desk for what was usually a 60 hour week!
Yes, I admit it – I was spoiled.
However, in a perfect example of just how the Universe functions in a way where nothing is truly random, being the program counselor allowed me to meet with local naturopathic doctors, one of whom became my chiropractor at my current wellness center. Back then, his presentations of chiropractic and massage successes were vivid and they stayed with me after I retired. Eventually, Siri and Google directed me to his office. He then introduced me to my current Acupuncturist, who in turn introduced me to Chinese herbs and Traditional Medicine. There’s a synchronicity here that cannot be denied.
So, truly, in addition to being spoiled, I was – and am – very blessed. So, with that candid understanding, let me share with you what I have learned.
There are many types of massage, each of which involves pressing, rubbing and manipulating ones skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Like Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, massage therapy is geared to the individual and to the individual’s need and reason for seeking an alternative and complimentary form of health care. More and more people are familiar with the relief that therapeutic massage therapy can provide, including these common types:
According to a 2014 American Massage Therapy Association survey, almost a quarter of all adult Americans had at least one massage of some type in the previous year. While reasons vary, more and more people are recognizing the health benefits of massage. They choose from among many massage styles to get relief from symptoms or to heal injuries, to help with certain health conditions, and to promote overall wellness.
Research shows that therapeutic massage techniques have been helpful in a variety of conditions. These include:
I took advantage of massage therapy to help decrease the stiffness and pain caused by too much desk sitting and multi-tasking on the telephone. Since that time, massage has become a major complementary modality for a multitude of illnesses. “Different studies have shown that massage reduces anxiety, depression, eating disorders, stress, and asthma in children. Most studies show that the relaxation response caused by massage is effective on nausea. Research studies show that massage and acupuncture significantly decreased postoperative pain in patients with cancer. Additional studies on aromatherapy and massage show that both relieve symptoms in people with cancer by consistently reducing anxiety and depression. Massage also helped lower nausea and pain as well as the stress hormone in patients undergoing chemotherapy.”
There is also much research on the emotional and physical benefits of massage for seniors. Many of my friends tell me that while regular massages began as stress-reducers when they were younger, take on a different role later in life. For many, whether due to loss of a spouse or grown children leaving home, continued, regular massage reinforced their connection to themselves.
Therapeutic, on-going massage therapy has shown documented health rewards for the senior population. “The top ten benefits of Massage Therapy for seniors include increased circulation, improved balance and gait, softens hard muscles and tissues, stimulates the nervous system, eases stroke recovery, increases flexibility, improves sleep, enhances the immune system, relieves arthritic pain and produces feelings of caring and comfort.”
As the importance of massage therapy grew, so did the various licenses and certifications required for practice. Massage Specialists can now receive specialize training to become certified in oncology massage as well as in treating special populations. It’s important to speak with your Massage Specialist to see that their skill meets your needs. It’s also important to note that the training of a therapeutic massage specialist differs from that you may encounter on vacation. You may never see the therapist you met on your vacation, but for therapeutic purposes and long range treatment, it’s best to deal with individuals who are both certified and competent.
I’m proud that the Licensed Massage Therapists at my wellness center in Margate Florida care enough about their patients to continue their studies and add to their certifications. They solidify my belief that a good wellness center is akin to a “health jewelry box”, filled with “gems” of all aspects of alternative and complimentary care.