Massage is good medicine. Americans make 60 million visits to massage practitioners every year and massage is now recognized by both the medical community and the public as an integral part of health care. Some insurance companies offer reimbursement for massage to treat various ailments. Infant massage is on the rise and is being taught to parents around the country.
Instead of coffee breaks or two-martini lunches, many companies offer chair massages during the lunch hour as part of their wellness program. Hospitals are introducing massage for their patients to reduce pain, alleviate anxiety, and boost their immune systems. Recognizing that healing, caring touch is good for everyone, community centers and colleges around the nation are offering massage classes to teach the general public how to give an effective massage.
Professional Massage Therapists
Professional massage therapists are well educated with hundreds of hours of classes and years of training in a variety of modalities such as Trager, Rolfing, cranial sacral, and polarity bodywork. Their sincere desire to help others, combined with their specialized expertise, allows them to effectively treat a variety of physical and emotional ailments, offering an invaluable contribution to our health care system.
Trained massage therapists now work in hospitals, psychiatric units, rehabilitation centers, special-care baby units, nursing homes, and medical centers. Anyone who has ever gone to a certified massage therapist for assistance with anything from stress reduction to specific injuries knows the value of a professional massage.
You Too Can Give a Healing Massage
Factors of cost and convenience can limit visits to certified massage therapists, and thus we are vastly under-utilizing the many healing benefits of massage. The truth is that you don't have to be a massage therapist to give a soothing, healing massage. Anyone can do it. The benefits of massage — reducing stress, soothing overworked muscles, boosting our immune system, and meeting our emotional needs for touch — are in our own hands. When massage is done in the comfort and familiarity of our homes with the people we already trust and respect, we feel safe, allowing the magic of massage to happen with very little effort.
With home massage, we find relief from a variety of ailments without the financial burden of medical bills. As health insurance costs soar, our need for self-responsibility and prevention becomes even more important. The health care of the future will include effective, low-cost interventions like home massage used side by side with sophisticated new techniques. Hands-on healing will help lessen our need for doctor visits, drugs and hospital care.
The convenience of home massage makes it a valuable tool that can be used with almost limitless frequency. It can aid in not only the treatment but in the prevention of so many ailments of daily life — everything from sports injuries to pain management to stress reduction. It can promote relaxation and, ultimately, our emotional well-being.
HEALING BENEFITS OF MASSAGE
* Relaxes the nervous system, relieving anxiety, lifting depression, and boosting energy.
* Increases joint flexibility and relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles.
* Creates a relaxed state of being. Regular sessions significantly reduce stress.
* Brings awareness of our mind-body connection.
* Assists the blood flow, encourages the lymphatic drainage, and stretches the connective tissue of our joints.
* Boosts our immune system.
* Improves circulation, bringing much needed oxygen and other nutrients to our tissue.
* Fulfills our emotional need for caring, nurturing touch.
* Releases endorphins, the body's natural painkiller.
The Magic of Home Massage
The magic of home massage comes from not only the quality of touch but also the duration. Where else but through massage can we touch each other in a healing, comfortable, and nonsexual way for one minute, five minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour? The real benefits of massage for both the giver and receiver are realized with the duration of touch. This is where the magic happens. Massage opens the door and gives us a safe and concrete way to touch our partners in a loving, nurturing way for a sufficient amount of time to make the cells in our body happy, excited, fulfilled and healthy.
When we become comfortable massaging someone — when we can give and receive non-sexual touch for 10 to 50 minutes — we are transformed. Translated to our everyday lives, we are able to keep that 20-second hug going for 35 seconds, hold the hand of a sick relative for two full minutes and hug our son or daughter when it previously felt uncomfortable. Through home massage, we return to our innate ability for and comfort with healing touch.
©2011 Chuck Fata & Suzette Hodnett. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Findhorn Press. www.findhornpress.com
This article was adapted with permission from the book:
Home Massage: Transforming Family Life through the Healing Power of Touch -- by Chuck Fata and Suzette Hodnett.
By emphasizing the innate healing power of touch to reduce stress and improve the immune system, this practical manual provides the tools for achieving health, relaxation, and connection with loved ones. Designed for the nonprofessional with simple step-by-step instructions, this book teaches the three principles that make learning massage easy and fun. Also included are ideas for bringing home massage into daily life and how to use these principles to share massage with infants, children, adolescents, spouses, and the elderly.
About the Authors
Chuck Fata was a nationally certified massage therapist and co-founder of Touch Communications Home Massage, Inc. He taught professionally at the Santa Monica School of Shiatsu and the California College of Physical Arts as well as massage workshops and retreats for non-professionals.
Suzette Hodnett, M.S., also co-founder of TCHM, has more than 20 years experience as a licensed psychotherapist, professional artist and Tai Chi Sandan instructor. She currently works as a Life Coach, blending her experience to bring emotional and physical health to youth and adults. With Jackie Sloan, CMT, she offers retreats, lectures and workshops nationwide to promote relaxation, connection, and the healing power of touch.