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Massage: More Than Pampering

Although most people think of massage as a relaxing treat, the therapy offers many benefits to enhance health.

The mornings are darker, the nights start earlier and the temperatures are cooler. Along with the obvious changes in the atmosphere there is . Stress from the 10 lives we all try to fit into one. We have work, kids’ activities, committees, games, deadlines and … the  bills. Stress can decrease the strength of the immune system.

If it isn’t stress, perhaps it is the cooler, wetter temperatures on the game field? Perhaps it is longer hours with closed windows? Perhaps it is less sleep? Most of the time we walk, talk, eat and sleep without any symptoms of stress, but other times our immune system is weak and we have symptoms of illness, poor healing, and pain. Unfortunately the immune system is tested during cold and flu season.

Massage could be your answer for a healthier winter and year. Massage therapists are trained on all the muscles, tendons, nerves and circulatory systems. Massage assists the circulatory system to function at its optimal level which in turn increases the immune system function, according to Dawnette LaRose of in Milford.

She explained this action can help to reduce Lymphedema (an accumulation of fluid in the tissue that causes swelling). There has been evidence this helps post breast cancer surgery or treatments when people experience arm swelling. “It helps to increase range of motion for muscles and tendons with conditions such as "Frozen shoulder" or those who have had an injury, when the healing process caused scar tissue in the muscles or joints. Scar tissue (referred to as adhesions by LaRose) decreases circulation. “The goal is to have people take a more proactive approach to health and have their body working well all the time instead of fixing it when it gets worn down and tired," she said.

Although many of us have enjoyed the benefits of massage for sore backs and necks, it has been known to help migraines, high blood pressure, Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) dysfunction and in post surgical recovery. LaRose offers multiple types of massage, such as deep tissue, relaxation, trigger work and craniosacral massage. Craniosacral is gentle pressure to the head and spine to correct imbalances and restore the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in these areas. It decreases blockages in systems throughout the body. Once blockages are removed, the body can function in a healthy manner, according to cancer.org. Craniosacral therapy uses massage of the bones and skull to improve movement and decrease stress in the body.

Massage is safe in pregnancy and can drastically decrease pregnancy complications such as sciatic pain, back pain, carpal tunnel and morning sickness. There is belief by some that massage therapy can aid in detoxing the body which stems from the belief that an optimal circulation system can detoxify better.

People should avoid massage if they have any of the following: fever, rash, severe swelling, known blood clots or kidney failure.

I asked LaRose why sometimes I am sore after a massage. She stated it is from the muscle working similar to a workout, but that the person should never be any more sore than they would be if they had done their first workout after months of no exercise.

“Massage therapy is a wonderful therapy to utilize in conjunction with other alternative therapies such as and and we aren’t adding more medicines to the mix,” LaRose said.

Try the therapies and enjoy the health benefits. And if you do just want a massage for relaxation: do it! As I said, less stress = a stronger immune system.

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