Health benefits of massage therapy

You are probably asking yourself why a website about nerds has articles on health and nutrition.  A vital part of sustaining positive mental health is staying physically fit, having a strong understanding of nutrition, and keeping stress low.  The better your physical condition, the more productive and mentally efficient you will be.  One of the most effective ways to keep stress low and maintain healthy circulation is massage.

It would be nice if we could let the things that cause us daily stress slide off our back like the rain, unfortunately most of us are not able to do this.  Work meetings, distractive bosses, irritated clients, disgruntled employees, cuts to benefits, higher taxes, lay-offs, and many more factors contribute to our daily stress which accumulates over time to dangerous levels.  I can definitely feel when I am stressed, which is most of the time.  My shoulders feel like they’re connected to the base of my skull, as if I have no neck.  What is left of my neck is wound so tightly I can barely tilt or twist my head, and when I do it snaps and cracks like a nutcracker.  The tension in my shoulders is so tight you could probably fire a crossbow bolt at my upper back just to watch it glance harmlessly off as if I was wearing plate mail armor.

Massage helps to relieve severe tension in the muscle and connective tissue.  If you have constant pain, work in a job performing heavy physical labor, or have sustained a physical injury- doctors will recommend either regular massage or deep tissue massage.  If you tend towards keeping enormous amounts of tension and pressure pent up inside until your muscles feel like they are strangling you like a octopus strangles a fish- then you are definitely in need of massage!

Here are some of the potential health benefits of regular massage:

Increased blood flow
Elimination of scar tissue
Improved posture
Pain Relief
Relief of muscular tension due to physical or emotional causes

How to schedule a Massage Therapy appointment and what to expect:

1.  How to find the right massage therapist and clinic for your needs:

Search online or in the phone book for all massage therapists and physical therapy clinics in your area.

Make a list of places to call.  Ignore a location if it looks “sketchy” or offers “gentlemen’s massage”.

Call each clinic and explain to the receptionist what kind of problems you are experiencing.  Find out if they will take your insurance and how much your insurance will pay since it will vary clinic to clinic.  Ask who the receptionist recommends for the kind of issues you are experiencing.  If they are not sure say goodbye and keep looking.

Eventually you will narrow your search down to just a couple massage therapists.  If you are unsure of who to choose, ask your friends and family if they know anything about either of them.  Ask people in the community and search for their names online for additional feedback.  If you’re still torn between two just pick one and make an appointment.

2.  Scheduling a first appointment:

At first you should plan on scheduling a single appointment to evaluate the performance of the therapist.  Just because they are good at what they do doesn’t mean they will be right for you.  I lucked out with my massage therapist Tiffany and was very happy with her work right away so I scheduled multiple appointments and continue to see her to this day (when finances allow of course).

3.  What to wear and what happens at the massage therapist:

It doesn’t really matter what you wear as long as you can easily take your clothes off and put them back on.  I recommend wearing something loose fitting if you can just because you will be more relaxed and comfortable before and after the appointment.

If you have never been to a massage therapist before make sure you say so and they will explain the procedure to you.  You will be shown into a small room with a massage table usually covered in sheets or towels.

After you arrive in your room the receptionist or massage therapist will leave and shut the door.  You now disrobe and place your clothes and belongings in a locker, basket, or another marked location.  It is optional but you may either strip down completely or just wear your underwear.  Women, you must remove your bra or else it will be difficult for the massage therapist to work on your upper back and shoulders.

4.  The massage:

All you need to do here is relax.  Talking is optional and most massage therapists are good at feeling out (no pun intended) if a client wishes to converse with them during the massage.  My therapist is very chatty, but I find her a lot of fun to talk with and since she is very liberal and open to new ideas I feel comfortable voicing my opinions on anything.  She doubles as a councilor for me and is good at listening and understanding as well as voicing her opinions in a non-confrontational manner.  I try and steer away from conversation which causes me to tense up though.  In other words- no politics, religion, anything that could potentially cause your muscles to tense up.

Honestly, the best thing to do during your appointment is just relax and let your massage therapist work on you.  Take a deep breath and relax, don’t worry if you get too relaxed.  I’ve almost fallen asleep before, especially after the massage concludes. Usually you are encouraged to stay for a little while after the massage and just lay there.  When you do get up, roll gently on your side and get up very slowly.  Take your sweet time putting your clothes on and remember to stay calm and remain in this state for as long as possible.  If I go home and get stressed over something it just ends up defeating the purpose of even going to get a massage in the first place.

5.  What to do after your appointment:

After your initial appointment go home and see how you feel over the next couple days.  It’s normal to ache or feel sore while your muscles heal after the knots and tension has been released.  Remember to excercise, drink lots of water, and stay away from toxins such as alcohol or caffeine.  If you must drink, make sure to flush your system with a lot of water and stretch often so you do not bind your muscles again.  If the massage was helpful and you enjoyed your massage and therapist, by all means call and schedule another.  If you did not enjoy your massage please try another therapist (or two) before you give up.  Many people give up before shopping around.  Don’t make this mistake since there are many different styles of massage and many alternative methods and clinics out there.  Why not try them all until you find one best suited to you?

I hope this helped you.  With added stretching and yoga you will find many years of peace and perform your job duties in a calm and relaxed fashion; In turn you will become more productive.

In between massages, I recommend the Homedics SBM-500H Therapist Select Shiatsu One Massaging Cushion with Heat to keep you relaxed. If you keep this on your office chair at work you will be able to keep calm even when all hell is breaking loose. If you don’t work in an office you can install it in your car and relax on the way to and from commute. Your commute will go a lot smoother with this on-board!

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Connect with Jonathan via Facebook.