Massage as Medicine

Some quick updates:

– please check our event page for the event schedule for June.  We will be hosting a Stress Management Workshop on June 20, and our Meditation and Healing Clinics will be held on June 12 and 26 this month.

– we have an opportunity to host a belly dancing class this summer, so if anyone is interested in attending please give us a call.

– our $39 introductory massage has been so popular that we are extending it for at least another month.  This special pricing is available to all of our patients, and your friends and relatives- first time massage clients only.  Make sure to come in and take advantage of the savings.

 June is almost here and that means summer fun, and summer aches and pains from playing and gardening a little to hard.  Here is a great article I found on the medicinal benefits of massage.

Massage as Medicine

by Marcy Lerner

Most people would agree massage is relaxing, feels good, and can alleviate stress, a stiff neck or that nagging low-back pain. What most people don’t realize is how massage can be a crucial part of an overall health-and-wellness regimen to help treat everything from neuromuscular disease to chronic insomnia.

Massage saves money

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) focused on evaluating complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), has been doing studies for years on the efficacy of massage and its value in treating chronic ailments and conditions. It has found massage is, in many cases, more cost-effective than traditional remedies like surgery and medication.

For example, low-back pain, a common ailment, is typically treated by surgery and medication. Aside from the necessary recovery and pain involved with surgery and the possible side effects of medication, traditional medical treatment for lower-back pain is expensive. On average, it costs about $10,000 to treat back pain with surgery and drugs.

And guess what? The NCCAM study found spinal manipulation and massage were more effective in treating low-back pain than surgery and drugs. An effective course of massage therapy for the relief of back pain is significantly less expensive, and is significantly less invasive than surgery or other medical intervention.

Ease stress, heal the body

Relaxation is more than just a day at the spa; it’s a serious component of preventive medicine. Americans are more stressed out than ever. This stress doesn’t just make you irritable; it can also foster more chronic diseases like depression, autoimmune disorders, heart disease and even cancer. Prolonged, harmful periods of stress can cause physical harm, including headaches, muscle pain, nausea, anxiety and a suppressed immune system.

Cortisol, a hormone produced when the body is stressed, can kill cells needed for proper immune function. For example, people under stress are more vulnerable to the virus that causes the common cold. Of course, there are many ways people handle stress, but some of the most common—drinking alcohol, smoking and overeating—cause their own health issues, including obesity, alcoholism and lung disease.

So what is a solution for stress that doesn’t cause problematic side effects? The answer: massage. Massage is not only effective at reducing stress, it’s also free of side effects when practiced by a licensed practitioner. Massage can literally be a lifesaver, a fantastic preventive medicine. Massage, for example, induces a relaxation response, which combats the fight-or-flight response exacerbated by stress, thus reducing blood pressure and risk of heart disease, and bolstering the immune system.

Don’t get inflamed

Along with stress, tissue inflammation can contribute to or cause myriad conditions, from arthritis and Parkinson’s disease to asthma, heart disease and cancer. This is yet another reason why massage is crucial. Not only can massage reduce stress; it can reduce inflammation and, therefore, pain in the body.

A study published in Science Translational Medicine in February 2012 found massage reduced the production of cytokines, a compound that plays an important role in causing inflammation. Some doctors believe anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and other NSAIDs may actually slow healing, but massage, which works differently, actually increases the activity of mitochondria and, thus, speeds cell healing as well.

What conditions does massage address?

Aside from low-back pain and stress, here are a few of the conditions massage can help to alleviate, in conjunction with appropriate tradition medical care and in consultation with a physician if necessary:

  • Asthma. This is a serious, chronic condition that causes the airways of the lungs to constrict, hampering breathing. severe asthma attacks can cause death. The disorder often starts in childhood. Luckily, massage can help. A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics shows massage on children with asthma reduced levels of cortisol and improved respiratory control and blood oxygenation.
  • Fibromyalgia. This is one of the most baffling chronic ailments. It’s characterized by pain and sensitivity in the joints and muscles. Other common side effects of fibromyalgia include nausea, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Fibromyalgia patients typically experience flare-ups, periods during which symptoms increase in severity.
  • Migraine. Migraines are caused by swollen blood vessels in the temples and base of the neck. These engorged blood vessels cause headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea. This condition is distressingly common. According to a study by the American Massage Therapy Association in 2006, up to 45 million Americans suffer from migraines.
  • Osteoarthritis. This is a fairly common joint condition caused by the breakdown of cartilage. It can be caused by aging or injury. Symptoms typically appear after the age of 50. Some symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness in the joints.
  • IBS and Crohn’s disease. IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and its more serious cousin, Crohn’s disease, are disorders characterized by inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the intestines. IBS and Crohn’s disease can lead to bloating, cramps and loss of appetite. Many people with Crohn’s disease have said massage is helpful with alleviating their condition. This claim is borne out by recent studies that emphasize how massage is able to reduce inflammation and stress in the body, both of which exacerbate conditions like IBS and Crohn’s disease.

Save time, pain and money

Massage isn’t just for relaxation; it’s essential for good health—and can save time, pain and money spent on traditional medical solutions.


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