Massage isn't just for wedding parties and anniversary gifts anymore.
For those who are interested in reducing stress and recovering or maintaining good health, massage is a wonderful, beneficial modality of treatment that supports a healthy way of living.
Studies have shown that massage can reduce blood pressure, increase levels of dopamine and serotonin (neurochemicals that support a positive mood), improve circulation, give you a better night's sleep, and generally bring about a cascade of positive health benefits, in addition to making people feel good!
The American Heart Association lists "Have a massage" among its recommendations in support of a healthy lifestyle. (www.americanheart.org)
The American Cancer Society website includes an article entitled "Massage Soothes Body and Soul." Those living with cancer must be treated with extreme care, understanding of their individual situation and treatment plan, and in some cases with a physician's supervision. There is growing consensus that gentle, informed massage and especially, energy work (which can be done without touch or with minimal contact) can provide real benefits in terms of relief from anxiety caused by invasive treatments, and can help with integration of the body as a whole. (http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_2_1x_Massage_Soothes_Body_and_Soul.asp)
Regarding the benefits of massage, Harvard-trained Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., published the following question and response on his website:
Q: How healthy is massage? I know that massage is supposed to be good for relaxation and stress relief. Are there other ways it can improve health? What type of massage is best?
A: "Massage can be wonderfully relaxing, but it does have other important health benefits and research is revealing more every year. Massage has even been found effective for the relief of pain and anxiety due to cancer. For example, in a 2004 study at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 50 percent of patients surveyed after receiving massage therapy reported a decline in pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety, nausea, and depression. Within a 48-hour follow-up period, all of the patients who had reported improvement said that their symptoms remained better than they had been before massage. This is just one of many studies showing how massage can benefit cancer patients. Ongoing studies are now investigating the usefulness of massage therapy for cancer-related fatigue and for improving the quality of life among both terminal cancer patients and patients with advanced AIDS.
"Previous studies have found that massage can relieve chronic back pain, lessen the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, ease post-operative pain, reduce headache frequency, relieve arthritis pain, reduce blood pressure, improve immune function, reduce symptoms among children with cerebral palsy, help ease labor pain and anxiety, reduce nausea and vomiting in post-operative patients, and ease symptoms among Parkinson's disease patients. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture – massage has proven efficacy for reducing pain, anxiety, stress, and depression in patients with a wide range of medical problems. If you have an interest in its effects on any specific disorder, I suggest visiting the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine where you'll find a detailed listing of studies." http://www.miami.edu/touch-research/Massage.htm
Whether as treatment for chronic conditions or for the stress of daily living, massage offers something of value for everyone.