A massage can aid in digestion, lower blood pressure, eliminate toxins, improve range of motion and more.

©iStockphoto.com/Phil Date

We often think of massage as a healthy way to relax, to relieve the tension of the day. While this is true, there are many other reasons to incorporate massage into your weekly, or at least monthly, schedule. With proven positive effects on both the physical and psychological side of wellness, research shows that massage therapy lowers heart rate, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, lowers blood pressure, aids in digestion, relaxes muscles, eliminates toxins, improves range of motion, and increases endorphins, which effect pain perception.

Western styles of massage include Swedish, deep tissue and soft tissue. These approaches incorporate stroking and kneading of the skin and muscles for relaxation and pain relief. Eastern massage addresses energy flow and balance. Most eastern styles see the human body as a pattern of energy channels. Disease and pain are symptoms of a blockage or imbalance in these channels. Try an array of methods to find which meets your individual needs.

Many people, who are already sick or stressed, see a massage therapist as the last helpful alternative. Although it’s never too late to benefit from these healing methods, it’s better to look at massage therapy as preventative health care. Keep in mind this practice is only one important element to your overall sense of health and well-being. Massage benefits are greatly enhanced when the individual takes accountability for his/her health through diet, exercise and stress management.

When should you get a massage?

Many people argue they can’t get a massage on a regular basis because they either don’t have the time or money. However, in order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves. Make time for regular massage. Many therapists work on a sliding scale according to a client’s budget, so don’t assume that a weekly or monthly massage is out of reach. Get referrals for an independent massage therapist in your community instead of going to a high-end spa (spa therapists often have to split their earnings with their company). Independent therapists usually charge anywhere from $45-$75 per hour and $25-$40 dollars per half hour. Remember to ask the practitioner if they graduated from an accredited school, and are skilled in the type of massage that meets your needs.

On the next page, learn about the health benefits and different types of massage.