I LOVE to receive massage (read with dreamy intonation). Upon finishing massage school, my friends and I would bemoan not having received a massage in 3 days or more. (I know, poor us…) Boy, those were the days!!
These days I try to receive massage between weekly and monthly. But, as happens to all of us regardless of if it’s massage or another positive habit, sometimes life gets away from us and more time goes by than we intended. The last 2 massages I was scheduled to receive were both canceled at the last minute. Ooh – that’s rough! Like taking a delicious dark chocolate bar out of my mouth before I could take the first bite.
My turn finally came last Friday when my friend Clare Greene gave me an excellent massage.
Oh. my. goodness!
I felt so much happier. I got a very nice natural adjustment in my neck that had been eluding me for a couple of weeks. My low back had been acting cranky and it felt tons better afterward too.
As a massage therapist you may think that I just want YOU to get a massage because it will support my income. Truth be told, I LOVE massage myself and highly recommend it to myself too. Often I think I should be somehow magically exempt from muscle tension. But, in fact, my profession lends itself particularly well to benefiting from massage. For me, the benefits of massage seem so clear:
- increasing blood flow through muscles that work hard in a repetitive fashion. Any massage therapist I’ve worked on requests extra attention for his or her arms. Our extensor and flexor muscles are working overtime, getting shortened in some cases. Massage moves blood through the muscle tissue. This helps flush out the metabolic waste products from repetitive use and brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the area. This feels so renewing! The shoulder/neck intersection is another area that eats this up.
- stretching fascia and muscle tissue. As a massage therapist, I bend over a lot. My work is in front of me and my arms and hands are extended. Even with the best posture in the world, I still need to consistently counterbalance the forward aspect of my work with being stretched, especially in the pectorals and traction for the neck. Massage is a great venue for stretching and the massages I enjoy most combine stretching with manual work.
- reminding me I’m human. When it’s my turn to lay on the table, I feel better before the first stroke has even begun. I feel better knowing that I set aside time to be worked on by someone else. I feel better knowing that there’s a whole hour when I’m not responsible for anyone else. I’m reminded that life is short and consists of more than running here and there, more than the repetitive tasks of feeding, transporting, and laundering for a family. It’s like coming to an oasis in the middle of a desert. I don’t expect every day to be tea and crumpets, but getting massage reminds me that life can be punctuated with joy and feeling good in my body. Massage is just one way to remind me of this.
I could say much more about the benefits of massage and what claims have held up under scientific investigation. This has been more of a personal take on the topic. I’ll save the rest for another post.
And you? What are some of your favorite things about massage?