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The Benefits of Massage Therapy

If you've never had a massage, don't put it off, not for a minute. In our stress-worn world, an allover body massage might be just what you need! Massage is one of the oldest of health practices, found in ancient Chinese medical texts written some 4,000 years ago.

Hippocrates advocated massage in the 4th century BC, as have doctors since then until the 1930s and '40s, when the practice was virtually abandoned as medicine became high-tech.  During the 1970s, massage went through a slight resurgence, one that's finally taken hold in more recent years as healthcare practitioners become more attune to ancient healing practices, and as Medicare and insurance payers have begun covering it. In Chinese medicine, massage is called acupressure. In essence, massage and acupressure both work with the body's own healing systems, the nervous system, blood vessels, lymphatic system. The concept is to remove stagnation. When your muscle spasms, it's a form of stagnation.The blood is not moving as smoothly as it should, either because of internal stress or as areaction to pain. People with migraine pain, lower back pain, arthritis, they all can benefit from massage. New parents know that babies who are massaged are calmer and sleep better.The effects on premature babies are especially dramatic. The babies gain weight faster and leave the expensive hospital neonatal intensive care unit earlier if they are massaged. Premature babies who are massaged three times a day have 47% more weight, are discharged six days earlier, and the hospital cost savings is approximately $10,000.  Depressed mothers who received twice-weekly massages before they delivered had lower levels of cortisol, which reduced their risk of premature delivery. It also reduced their risk of postpartum depression. Something else: None of their babies was born with higher cortisol (which affects babies' development.)• Two chair massages per week made adolescents less aggressive.• Asthmatic children who received massages had increased air movement, lung function, less anxiety, and reduced stress.• Teachers rated adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as being less hyperactive -- and more able to spend time on tasks -- following one month of twice weekly massages. The adolescents rated themselves as happier and were observed as fidgeting less.  During massage, a major nerve in the body called the vagus nerve is stimulated, which slows heart rate. The heart needs to be slowed down for a child to pay attention.  Other findings:• Autistic children were more sensitive to touch, paid more attention to sounds, and related to teachers better after massage.• When diabetic children received regular massages from parents, glucose levels decreased to normal range; they also followed diet requirements better.  In a recently published paper, it was reported that when patients with fibromyalgia had massages, they had less pain and slept better. They also had lower levels of "substanceP," a chemical messenger for pain.  It is speculated that massage works because it elevates serotonin, the body's anti-painhormone and reduces cortisol, the stress hormone.

So Are You Ready for a Massage?

Stress is indeed a big problem for everyone these days, and massage is a legitimate wayto eliminate that stress. People who are "big exercisers" also need to give their bodies a break.  If you're slightly reluctant about that first massage, just relax. A professional therapist will provide professional treatment, professional draping. All trained massage therapists are very conscious of people's fears about being touched and can help make you comfortable.