Everybody deserves a massage week

The U.S. Department of Health is proclaiming that July 12-18 is “Everybody Deserves a Massage Week.” What a wonderful thought! It has been my experience that a massage given by a trained professional, who really knows how muscles, tendons, ligaments and bone connect, how the lymphatic system drains, and circulation flows, is a total gift to the body.

“Massage: Get in Touch with its Many Benefits,” an e-article by Mayo Clinic staff defines massage as a “general term for pressing, rubbing and manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments. Massage may range from light stroking to deep pressure.”

They define four common types of massage:

– Swedish massage. This is a gentle form of massage that uses long strokes, kneading, deep circular movements, vibration and tapping to help relax and energize you.

– Deep massage. This massage technique uses slower, more-forceful strokes to target the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue, commonly to help with muscle damage from injuries.

– Sports massage. This is similar to Swedish massage, but it’s geared toward people involved in sport activities to help prevent or treat injuries.

– Trigger point massage. This massage focuses on areas of tight muscle fibers that can form in your muscles after injuries or overuse.

Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension. Mayo Clinic researchers have found that “Massage therapy can reduce pain and tension in people facing or recovering from many problems. While more research is needed to confirm the benefits of massage, some studies have found massage may also be helpful for anxiety, headaches, sports injuries and insomnia related to stress.”

And there is more. When a person lovingly puts his or her hands on another with the intent to heal, and help the other feel loved, miracles can happen. I’ve been the recipient of that. I had a terrible lower backache one night, and my husband, who had been taught a brief course in spiritual massage, worked on it. He only knew some basic anatomy of the backbone, but he loved me, and really wanted me to feel better. Love is the medium of spiritual healing, whether through words, touch or prayer. It was enough. Some bone slid into place, and I was able to move freely without pain again.

Various (untrained, but loving) children and friends have massaged my trapezius muscle while I was sitting in a chair. That is the muscle on both sides of the body from the back of the head to the shoulders and half way down the back, ending in a v-point. It can tense up with long periods of driving or doing computer work. I always got some relief. Conversely, I’ve been able to bring relief to loved ones by gently massaging, or even just touching or holding places of pain. We don’t often do that for each other, but I’m sure that we can all remember a parent’s loving touch when we were hurt. The pain really did go away.

After a tonsillectomy when I was nine, my throat was really sore. My Nana came up and just began holding my hand. One hand cradled it, while the other hand stroked it. It was such a warm soft hand. I know that it was far away from my cut and bruised throat or nauseated stomach but the gentle stroking of her hand, and whatever soothing words she was speaking calmed me down, and eventually put me to sleep. She’d stroke my forehead, too, sometimes. I purred inside. I never noticed that her hands were misshapen with arthritis until sometime later.

We can all bring comfort to each other. Love is the medium. About 25 years ago, I was in a car accident. A construction truck pulled out in front of me as I was driving about 40 mph. The impact left me temporarily unable to move. I was frightened that there had been some serious damage to my body, and I hurt. I prayed though, and knew that I wasn’t alone, but was I ever relieved when an older man came over to check on me. The window was only partially open, and I couldn’t move to open it more, but he reached in, held my hand, and told me that help was on the way. I felt his caring, and was able to relax. His hand was huge, muscled, calloused and strong. It felt like a lifeline to me. He didn’t let go till the paramedics told him to. So it’s not the form of the hand that matters, but the love behind it, even if a stranger’s.

Stanley Kopa Kaluahine, Hawaiian healer, taught me the value of placing the hand on or over a place of pain. He referred to it as a “handy band-aid.” Kopa taught that we could use the slightly relaxed, but supportive hand placed over a painful part of the person like a band-aid, and then pray for the healing. He demonstrated it on me or my children, and I would practice on him and them, with great success.

I urge you to try blessing yourself with a hand band-aid the next time you have a mishap. In my own work with myself and others, I have found that it really does make the pained place feel better and heal quicker.

Lomi Lomi massage is one part of Hawaiian traditional medicine. It incorporated love and prayer in the lomi, which means massage. Each family had its own traditions and techniques handed down for generations. Aunty Margaret Kalehuamakanoelulu’uonapali Machado is a renowned healing massage Kahuna, and the only person state certified to tech Lomi Lomi in Hawaii.

She finds many other massage techniques too rough. “They dig in. Lomi Lomi is very thorough, and it’s just working with the heart.” The Lord does the healing. I don’t heal, That’s why I say prayer. I ask the Lord to intervene. It’s said that Hawaiian massage is praying work.”

“Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit … So I’m going to open it up so you have better circulation so you feel better. I want you to feel better.”

Auntie Angeline Locey trained with Aunty Margaret, and opened Angeline’s Muolaulani Wellness Center in Anahola in 1985. She has trained many, and her family continues to carry on the Hawaiian cultural practices she started there. I experienced it and highly recommend it.

The Anara Spa at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu offers many different massages, treatments, and beauty services. It’s expensive, but with a treatment you get to use the steam room, pool, sauna and more. I can personally recommend it, too.

Or get together with a friend for a day of relaxation, eating healthy food, and a sharing of massages. You can learn a lot about massage by going on line. Happy healthy massage week!

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org. For more information about Hale Opio Kauai, please go to www.haleopio.org.

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