February 25, 2004
Give the Gift of Massage
The power of touch is extraordinary to behold. Whether we offer
a supportive shoulder to cry on, rock a baby or small child to sleep,
or pat the hand of a friend struggling through a difficult time,
women seem to be blessed with an instinctive understanding that
touch can heal.
Through the years, I have witnessed its healing
power in my personal as well as my professional life. Every time
my husband gives me a tender hug, I am amazed by the way the tensions
of the day seem to float away. Similarly, my patients often report
significant health benefits from a variety of touch therapies such
The art and science of massage have solid, ancient
roots, starting with Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine,
who noted 400 years before the birth of Christ that a physician
had to be experienced in the art of friction. It was
also highly regarded by the ancient Chinese, Hindus, Persians, and
Egyptians, and has been practiced by healers and athletes for centuries.
Massage temporarily fell out of favor, in part
because of its mistaken association with carnal pleasure. However,
a renaissance in the early 1800ssparked by the Swedish Massage
techniquebrought massage back into common healing practice.
And today, massage is alive and thriving. An increasing number of
health care facilities, including nursing homes and hospitals, have
massage therapists on staff. And a growing number of insurance companies
cover the expense of this time-tested therapy, which benefits the
mind and spirit, as well as the body.
Massage works on a variety of levels throughout
the body. In the circulatory system, it promotes better circulation
to the skin and superficial tissues, helps increase the number of
red blood cells, increases return of blood to the heart thereby
easing the strain on the heart, increases tissue metabolism and
cell nutrition, and stimulates lymph circulation and elimination
of toxic wastes.
Massage aids the musculoskeletal system by increasing
blood flow to the skeletal muscles, relaxing muscle tension caused
by stress, and improving muscle tone. Additionally, massage promotes
intestinal relaxation and better elimination through the bowel.
It also helps to drain mucus from the lungs and sinuses and can
be a wonderful sleep aid.
Massage is steeped in emotional benefits. The most
obvious is its reduction of tension and stress. A brief massage
can bring about a deep sense of peace and relaxation. In fact, some
studies have found that massage can stimulate the production of
chemicals such as serotonin, which are related to the body’s innate
relaxation response. In a word, massage makes you feel good.
Receiving a gentle massage often gives you a feeling
of unity with all of nature. Many people experience a profound sense
of love for their friends and families, and even gain a sense of
oneness with the people that they work with or encounter on a daily
basis after a massage session.
I am a strong believer in the energy model of health
and well-being, and believe that such important processes such as
our immune function, reproductive and cardiovascular health, our
energy, and even our moods are affected by fluctuations in our life
energy. I feel strongly that touch lovingly given from one person
to another, such as occurs with marriage, actually transmits life
energy and has powerful therapeutic benefits for the recipient as
well as the provider.
Give the Gift of Touch
There’s no time like the present to share the healing
power of touch and give the gift of massage to someone you love.
A gift certificate to a massage therapist or day spa is a present
with long-lasting benefits. If you prefer the personal touch, give
them a massage yourself. Even a few minutes spent massaging the
back, shoulders, or hands of someone you love can be profoundly
relaxing. Finally, remember that a smile or simple pat on the back,
when lovingly done, can be very healing in its own right.
To find a massage therapist or bodywork spa in
your area, check your local yellow pages, or contact the Associated
Bodywork and Massage Professionals online at www.massagetherapy.com
or by phone at 1-800-458-2267.