Massage: Luxury or Self-Care?

We’ve heard the phrase, “Let’s treat ourselves to a massage!” As we get older, though, perhaps massage is less a luxury service than a legitimate and necessary means to keep ourselves healthy and active – [thought-provoking question…what greater wealth than health?]?

Few rewards play the part of the carrot better than a relaxing body rub, but if motivation alone defined the therapeutic benefits of massage, then justifying the expense of a massage would be moot. As we lose our range of mobility and find ourselves to be less spry than a spring chicken, anything that encourages self-care goals can be deemed “therapeutic” and necessary.

Well, ok, so maybe we need to draw the line at chocolate cake. 🙂

Relaxation & Stress Reduction

The ultimate treat after a stressful period or a project involving hard physical work is—you guessed it—a massage. Whether it’s a spouse rubbing our shoulders or a deep-tissue professional once-over, we feel pampered and relaxed afterward.

In the past few decades, relaxation and stress reduction has become less of a reward than a pathway for achieving better mental health. Mental health affects our physical well-being, so nowadays, it’s difficult to consider a massage as strictly a bonus for facing the day-to-day tasks involved with being a responsible, productive adult.

Therapeutic Treatment Preparation

Many chiropractors recommend a session with a licensed masseuse prior to an adjustment, enabling the muscles that support our spine to relax and allow for a more effective alignment. Many physical therapists agree that professional massage, before and after a workout, improves blood flow and oxygenation, improving post-injury healing of bone, scar and muscle tissues.

As we age, we lose mobility. A good massage by a licensed massage therapist is akin to the practice of focused, deep breathing, delivering nutrients to the parts of our bodies we don’t typically access with vigorous exercise. This helps keep us healthy, supple and youthful.

A Massage…just because?

Let’s face it, we’ve worked hard our entire lives. Sometimes we want to treat ourselves, regardless of the health benefits. If we enjoy a massage simply because it makes us feel pampered, and $100 or so each month isn’t going to break the bank, then why not? That’s reason enough. We deserve it.

Be Kind to Yourself

When we feel good about ourselves, mentally and physically, we are more inclined to pursue healthy activities. When we manage stress in positive ways, we bolster our immune systems. If we look after our aches and pains by stimulating our muscles through therapeutic massage, we’re more likely to remain physically active, with fewer risks of injury. And when we continue to treat ourselves well, we’re more likely to maintain healthy social connections.

The role of massage as an indulgence or as a necessity for self-care is ultimately up to the individual, though more and more research is blurring the line between the two. Being good to ourselves is once again a healthy endeavor. Nurturing, human contact is important to well-being, no matter the age. According to The Mayo Clinic, “Studies of the benefits of massage demonstrate that it is an effective treatment for reducing stress, pain and muscle tension…Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or diseases, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of caring, comfort, and connection.” Making a point to be kind to ourselves is a habit we often neglect, and a professional massage once in a while is a great way to take time to do just that.

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