In today’s society there are lots of health options. Traditional medicine has not always had all the answers. I had a physician once acknowledge to me that doctors only understand about less than 10% of the brain. That began my journey to learn more about holistic options for healthy living. Kind of an oxymoron, huh? What other options are there for healthy living but natural ones??
My journey began 20 years ago. I admit the journey has been slow—I only developed a great appreciation of “heal thyself” over the past 7-10 years when I began to commit to regular massage therapy to deal with muscular pain originating from sitting in a car long hours, prior car accidents and sitting at a computer for lengthy periods of time. I found that taking breaks and walks didn’t help as much as I’d hoped. I made the commitment to regular massage therapy every 6 weeks for 4 years.
During that 4 years I was able to be active, free of pain and stretch! Unfortunately, I moved to Washington and left my wonderful massage therapist, Christine Stolworthy, in Utah. After my move, I didn’t have the money to set myself up with a massage therapist, so went without for over a year and half. After that time, my muscles began to lock up on me again. I would wake up in pain and unable to move in the morning after a good night’s sleep. So, I went to my doctor again.
My doctor was concerned there might be something more serious going on, but agreed to provide me a prescription to begin massage therapy while testing me for Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus and other possible problems. So I began my care again. The blood work all came back negative—once again, I didn’t have anything “serious” wrong with me, or more precise, diagnosable and life threatening.
My therapy takes a while to begin to bring me back to what I consider health. I am still in that process right now and am adding essential oils (a story for another time) to my healthy regime. Health to me is living with little pain, being able to move when I need to, stretch and stay active, like walking, biking or hiking. I am working back to that, but am not there yet.
Massage therapy is an age-old healing art. I like that term “art” because different modalities of massage work for different people, just as you will get different results based on what therapist you might be visiting. According to the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (abmp), “Massage, bodywork and somatic therapies are defined as the application of various techniques to the muscular structure and soft tissues of the human body.” That’s a mouthful.
According to the abmp, there are more than 250 variations of massage, bodywork and somatic therapies. Many practitioners will use a combination of techniques to improve the health of their patients. My new therapist will use stroking, kneading, tapping, compression and friction (for now). Christine used to use rocking, kneading, stroking, tapping and pressure. Therapists will also use stretches to improve muscle tone and flexibility and help your muscles to relax.
Somatic means “of the body” and is meant to denote a body/mind or whole-body approach to something. Massage is a part of that approach. Benefits of massage (for me) have included:
- Alleviation of low-back pain
- Greater flexibility and motion in my shoulders and arms–I work at a computer and well, that position can cause arm and shoulder pain as well as hand irritation
- Improved outlook—regular massage therapy lifts me up and makes me feel more positive, relaxed overall—I find myself more balanced and flexible emotionally
- Loosening of leg muscles – over the past 10 years, my legs have begun to be very tight from sitting and driving 90 miles one-way to work each day to sitting for hours a day in a definitely-not-ergonomic computer desk situation.
When using massage therapy as a part of a holistic approach to healing and health, one must partner the care with lots of water. We are mostly water, anyway, but massage can break up stuff that builds in our body that is unhealthy and where does it go? Well, if you drink lots of water, it will go OUT. If you don’t, it might just move that discomfort to another part of your body and you can have aches and pains after the therapy, which won’t give you optimal results.
Massage has been an important part of my health and I have discovered it benefits me to have regular therapy to regain and maintain my health. I encourage anyone to learn more about massage and stay tuned as I write about other holistic, healthy approaches to life.
About the author: Susan McLain is a writer, business analyst, blogger, marketing manager and mother of 3 grown (and growing) children. She works as a marketing manager and content specialist for Avalara, a sales and use tax compliance Software-as-a-Service company on Bainbridge Island, Washington. She is also a doTERRA essential oils independent consultant and enjoys the great Pacific Northwest with her family.