Massage and Longevity

More people in the U.S. are using massage and acupressure as a path to healing. Holistic can be a scary and mysterious word for many Westerners, however, once we break it down it is not so strange. Because it’s different, many people are uncomfortable, or shut down when they hear the word holistic. Even worse, most people think it is a lesser or inferior approach to a healthy life. Honestly, holistic medicine will never achieve the drastic results that can be achieved by procedures developed, honed and nearly perfected in the West. But the idea is to use such drastic procedures sparingly. Many people use an holistic approach to life that allows them to live long, happy, fully-engaged lives, without ever needing any nasty, bloody, intrusive and expensive procedures or drugs. Western medicine has traditionally compartmentalized the health of individuals, which means patients needs are broken into categories for treatment: psychological, physical, emotional, spiritual, etc. However, a holistic approach doesn’t segment people and seeks to heal the entire person in subtle, incremental ways that lead to greater wellness and higher levels of good energy. Massage is an easy and popular form of holistic medicine.

If you asked most Westerners, Is massage medicine? all but a few would answer No Most of us think of medicine as expensive pills, injections and inhalers. People rely on theses medications and we are happy to have them. Adding massage as a legitimate form of treatment is something that is currently taking hold in our healthcare system. Massage, acupuncture, acupressure, and their underlying philosophies are being investigated and accepted by an increasing number of Western nurses, therapists and medical doctors. Accredited programs that secure patient and consumer safety are evolving to meet the demands of people seeking greater wellness. Additionally, more health insurance companies and public programs are paying for massage therapy. What is greater wellness? Wellness does involve health, but health, so often, only addresses the immediate physical state of a person. Great wellness can be described as the flourishing of the entire person, in addition to the absence of disease. Wellness allows people to meet the demands of everyday life, whether they be physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, financial and so on. Massage improves wellness and creates a positive balance in energy levels. With higher levels of positive energy, all systems work in synergy as one system. Living organisms are supple and organic and require an open-minded path to health, not the auto mechanic mentality that prevails over the modern healthcare system. A holistic outlook doesn’t have the same mechanized approach that we’re used to in the West.

The body and mind, for example, are not seen as separate mechanisms operating next to each other. Instead, they are seen as extensions of one source of energy that fuels and powers an organism. This source of energy (in Chinese medicine, which is over 2,000 years old and still practiced, it is called Chi or i) manifests itself in varying degrees, from something as material as immune cell activity, to something as immaterial as the mind. So, some of this may sound foreign and strange. There’s really no need to overthink it. When someone feels good, the whole being is better off. Decision-making, processing life events and hand-eye coordination, can all show improvement after a massage therapy regimen. If you like getting massages, there’s good news Ò receiving regular massage, consistently, has the potential to create a cumulative effect of feeling well and feeling better. Massage is exponentially more powerful as a healthcare tool the more often it is received by a patient or client. People who get massage regularly show greater improvement in health and notice a reduction in pain and muscular tension, as well as improved posture, according to Anne Williams in her book Spa Bodywork: A Guide for Massage Therapists She says, People regularly make a commitment to fitness. People regularly make a commitment to changing their diet.

The difference they’d experience if they regularly made a commitment to massage is mind-blowing What you can expect from massage: Alleviate low-back pain and increase range of motion. Create body self-awareness. Improve muscle tone and stimulate their nerve supply. Improve elasticity of skin and promote rejuvenation. Improve sleep and calm the mind. Increase endorphin and serotonin production. Reduce edema, as well as joint inflammation. Release bad posture from previous injuries. Stimulate lymph circulation and enhance immunity. Increased body awareness is a newer element in the healthful prospects of massage. Karrie Osborn writes about this in her article Massage Multiplied: Benefits of Massage Improve with Frequency On the surface, this benefit shows itself as increased flexibility, but on a deeper, neurological level a lot more is happening. According to sports massage expert Benny Vaughn, owner of Athletic Therapy Center in Fort Worth, Texas, structured touch stimulus enhances the nervous system’s sensory and spatial processing capacity. He says, The person becomes aware of their body’s movement in space and becomes more aware of tightness or pain long before it reaches a critical point of mechanical dysfunction Simply put, massage helps you dial in to yourself and the space around you.

Professional athletes and the elderly can improve their performance and health with massage. Strength, flexibility, focus, coordination and healing power will improve with massage, especially as part of an entire wellness plan that includes nutrition, physical activity, socialization, mediation and prayer. Massage can lead to faster recovery time after intense workouts, or after a stay in the hospital. Men and women experience high levels of negative stress that deteriorate their health and happiness. Stress helps motivate people  it helps them get their work done and reach their goals. But after stress breaches a threshold, that helpful positive stress turns into destructive negative stress.

You can imagine a massage therapist scrubbing and rinsing away the residual negative stress. Massage washes it away and helps people attack life with alertness, while simultaneously allowing them to live more calmly and efficiently. When the body and mind learn to operate efficiently, higher outputs of energy can be achieved without feeling drained. When the body and mind are trained to operate more efficiently it preserves energy and leads to increased longevity. Health experts are increasingly inviting people to try massage therapy once a week for a month as preventive medicine and a path to improved mood and positive attitude, keys to successful aging and meaningful longevity.