Why investing in massage makes sense

It seems expensive, time-consuming, a luxury. But not when you consider the many health and fitness benefits of massage.

A simple massage has tremendous effects on human health. Massage therapy dates back thousands of years. It was considered one of the most effective means of healing — it is based on the simple power of human touch.

At its essence, massage relaxes by relieving physical and psychological stress and removing toxins from the body. In today’s hectic times, people tend to overwork their muscles, which results in the accumulation of harmful acids, like lactic acid, and causes muscle soreness. Massage therapy eliminates these poisons and releases tension, anxiety and muscle stiffness. At the same time, massage has a major impact through the lymphatic system. By stimulating a variety of lymph nodes throughout the circulatory system, oxygen flow and immune system performance improve dramatically.

Massage therapy also offers substantial psychological benefits. The more experienced therapist will seek a simple statement of intention from the client: “What do you want this session to accomplish?” allowing the client to talk about anything from sore spots to tight shoulders, to stress and tension, that he or she wants to reduce or eliminate during the massage session. Nick Padilla, of Groundwork Massage Therapy, emphasizes: “I would never begin a session without first asking a client want they want to accomplish. Even very long-time clients have changing needs: good days, hard days, heavy workouts. My job is to understand where they are and work with their bodies to bring them to a better sense of relaxation and health.”

In today’s hyper-paced, wired world, regular consistent use of massage therapy has major health benefits. A session once or twice a month can be a smart investment in reducing stress and becoming personally more effective on the job and in your personal life — it is the ultimate “me” time, when the entire focus of the therapist is on bringing your mind and body to a better state.

What can you expect among the many benefits when you spend your hard-earned money for regular massage therapy? The answer is simple — your needs get met. This means a dialog between you and the practitioner about what you want from this session. Target outcomes can include: — Less low-back pain and improved range of motion — Assistance with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shortened maternity hospital stays — Reduced medication dependence — Enhanced immunity by stimulating lymph flow, the body’s natural defense system — Improved conditioning for weak, tight or atrophied muscles — Recovery from strenuous workouts — Improved skin health and appearance — Increased joint flexibility — Reduced depression and anxiety — Increased endorphin production — the amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkillers — Relief from migraine pain

It’s imperative to focus on the organic nature of the body. It sounds obvious, but every aspect of the body’s effectiveness goes back to the care it gets — muscles need care, blood and nutrients travel through muscles and contemporary, advanced massage techniques listen very carefully to the words of the client and the condition of the body to guide what the therapist does. People sometimes think you just hop on the table and get rubbed for an hour. Those days are over: Today’s skilled therapists work on the whole body, connecting the massage experience to very specific wellness outcomes.

Chrissy Oberholtzer is a massage therapist at Maesa Stress Management Center, which along with Groundworks Massage Therapy, are among a number of massage providers found at The Camac Center, a portfolio of personal-care service providers in the 12th Street Gym complex. For more information, see the Camac Center page at www.12streetgym.com.