Many people have the idea that massage is only for pampering. They believe it’s a luxury that you only get if you’re on vacation or very rich, but massage is actually for every body, including you! The main reason that this is true is simply because you live your life using your body. It helps to get you from place to place and do all of your daily activities. Your body is a vehicle, just like your car, except that you cannot trade it in or replace it when it wears out. If you want it to run well and last you a lifetime, then you must maintain it, and massage is a great way to do that.
Massage therapy has many powerful health benefits that are consistently being supported by scientific research. One of the most impactful is it’s ability to reduce anxiety and stress. Jim Coan, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, is the author of a study that determined that physical touch directly reduced anxiety.
He stated, “We know that anxiety decreases immune function and makes you get sick more often. If touch can help you be less anxious, you’re more likely to stay well.”
This is also supported by a 2012 study in Military Medicine, an international peer reviewed journal published by AMSUS, the Society of Federal Health Professionals, confirming that veterans reported significant reductions in ratings of physical pain, physical tension, irritability, anxiety/worry and depression after massage.
Some of the more specific ways that massage can help you be well and maintain your health are:
n Stimulating lymph and blood flow, improving circulation.
n Alleviating pain associated with inflammation, including relieving migraines and back pain.
n Improving range of motion and flexibility in joints.
n Exercising and stretching weak, tight or atrophied muscles.
n Reducing adhesions and swelling after surgeries and/or injuries.
n Promoting healthy pregnancy by reducing pain, swelling and blood pressure.
n Releasing endorphins that work as the body’s natural painkillers.
As a result, people who get massages on a consistent basis also report:
n Enhanced sleep quality.
n Greater energy.
n Improved concentration.
n Reduced fatigue.
If it sounds like you might want to give massage a try, there are many options for you here on Kauai. Massage therapists work in many settings including spas, chiropractic, physical therapy, and doctors’ offices. Many also provide outcall services so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your home. Massage pricing varies based on type of massage, experience of the practitioner, office setting, and the length of the appointment. Don’t let cost be a prohibiting factor. Most therapists offer discounts for kamaaina and package deals and some types of health insurance will cover or reimburse you for massage treatments. There are currently five massage schools on island that offer student massages at half of the professional rate.
When considering a therapist, remember to shop around, just like finding a good mechanic, you want someone you can trust. A good therapist will listen to you and your body (even when you don’t), pay attention, be present with you emotionally and mentally, and take care of their own body. They will also know when to refer you to other professionals, such as chiropractors, doctors or counselors when appropriate.
Remember that your body is a vehicle and you’ll know it is needing service when you get aches and pains. These are like the warning lights on your dashboard.
The more you hurt, the more overdue you are for maintenance. Listen to your body and provide what it needs — food when hungry, water when thirsty, rest when tired. Of course, you do all of these things at regular intervals to stay healthy and strong and massage is just as important. Book a massage and be well!
• Lana Olson is a licensed massage Therapist at Kauai Chiropractic and Wellness Center in Lihue (808) 246-8858 and owner of Princeville Massage Therapy, an outcall massage practice (808) 639-8488.