One Pleasurable Health-Enhancing Activity — NOT in the News

By Lee Bellinger / November 12, 2013

The All-Pleasure,
All-Gain Approach
to Improving Your Health!

When it comes to improving your health through steady exposure to anabolic stress, the saying “NO-PAIN, NO-GAIN” is essentially true. Properly supervised weight training, for example, really does make you much healthier and vital, while strengthening your bones and significantly delaying the inevitable frailty of advanced age.
As you age, getting outside of your comfort zone is far more than a character-building experience.
Embracing anabolic stress is important as you get older – especially given a tendency among the people moving toward advanced age to seek more “creature comforts” that tend to reinforce a sedentary lifestyle.
That said, there really is a pleasant way to improve your health. No pain involved whatsoever, and quite the reverse actually!

The Many Surprising Benefits
of a Good Massage

In recent years, massage therapy has evolved from an expensive form of pampering and self-indulgence to a drug-free, lower cost, more effective alternative therapy for a number of serious health conditions.
And for good reason.
Professional Massage
Massage therapy is now used to treat a wide array of illnesses and conditions. From pain relief to emotional health.
According to Mayo Clinic, research suggests that massage therapy helps to relieve stress, pain and joint stiffness, may help to control high blood pressure, assists with healing of sports-related injuries, improves the function of the immune system, can fight depression, and may even improve cancer treatment outcomes.
In several studies, researchers have confirmed that massage is an effective treatment for back pain, a condition which costs Americans many billions of dollars each year in medical treatment and lost wages.
In one particular study, researchers showed that massage therapy eased back pain better than spinal manipulation. Massage patients in that study cut their use of painkillers by 36 percent!

Solid Science
Backs Up the Many Benefits of Massage

At least a dozen studies have shown that massage is also an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. The effect is not just emotional; receiving a massage lowers the circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 50 percent on average. Given that research ties stress hormones to a number of health problems, that’s a very big deal. Massage also stimulates your brain’s production of neurotransmitters, further countering depression.
And if you own or manage a company, you need to hear this next one
Research shows that companies that regularly offer on-site massage therapy to their workers can lower injury-related costs as much as an astounding 75 percent! That translates directly into happier, healthier, and more productive employees, and dramatically lower medical costs.
Whether you want to boost your immune system, ease pain, or prevent injuries, massage may be a good choice for you. To enjoy the fullest benefits, you should plan for regular massage sessions. Once a month or even once a week is ideal.

A Professional Massage is Preferred,
If Less Fun – Here’s Why…

To get the best therapeutic benefits from a massage, you should turn to a professional. Usually, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and licensed massage therapists will be certified and experienced with performing massage. Don’t be afraid to ask about a masseuse’s certifications and experience.
If you’re seeking massage to help treat a specific condition, search for a therapist that has some background in that area. Another good way to find a capable massage therapist is to ask someone you know who regularly gets massaged.
You’ll find that different therapists offer different massage styles. Among the most popular massage therapy techniques are:
  • Swedish Massage, which includes long strokes, circular motions, gentle kneading, and tapping.
  • Deep-Tissue Massage, which uses more pressure and slower movements to work your deeper muscle tissue.
  • Trigger-Point Massage, which combines basic massage techniques with a focus on sensitive areas where the muscles are typically tighter.
You can also find massage experts that offer Thai massage, hot-stone massage, sports massage, shiatsu massage, reflexology, and many other specialized techniques.
To get the fullest health benefits from a massage, you should let your massage therapist know about any health problems you have. Also, explain where you have any particularly high levels of pain or sensitivity. Be clear about what you hope the massage will accomplish – whether just to relax or to address a specific condition – so that the masseuse can choose the best techniques for you.
During the massage, don’t be afraid to ask for different levels of pressure. It’s normal to experience some discomfort when a masseuse is working on sore or knotted muscles, but if you find yourself in outright pain, speak up.

Partnered Massage

Sharing a massage with your spouse may not deliver the same level of health benefits as a professional massage. The reason being that a professional masseuse is trained to feel for trouble spots and knows how your anatomy works – both are factors in delivering a massage that can help reduce chronic pain.
However, that doesn’t mean that you and your spouse won’t benefit from trading massages.
A study conducted at Cedars-Sinai finds that differing levels of touch provide different health benefits. When you give your partner a gentle massage, you increase the production of feel-good hormones that reduce stress and lower blood pressure. A little firmer massage helps boost the immune system.
As long as you are careful not to use too much pressure, you and your spouse can give each other the health benefits of massage and deepen your relationship at the same time.

More Science on the Benefits
of Regular Massages

For the fullest benefits of this kind of massage, Tiffany Field, the director of the Touch Institute of Miami School of Medicine suggests some type of massage for at least a few minutes each day. So, now you have an excuse to ask your spouse to rub your shoulders – she’s helping to lower your blood pressure. Just remember to return the favor!
Helping you find ways to take a more active role in your own health is what this newsletter is all about. It increases your self-sufficiency, your happiness, and, of course, your health.
So, take advantage of the tips here – schedule a massage today or at the very least make a date to swap massages with your significant other!