By Nina Fisher | Licensed Massage Therapist at Bodhi Massage and Wellness Center
“The body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” -Buddha
If you’ve ever received a professional therapeutic massage, you will not be surprised by this article. The benefits of massage have been documented and experienced for thousands of years. Many people consider it a luxury, however if you ask my clients, they consider it a necessity. Our bodies are an intelligent, complicated network of muscles, bones, organs, nerves, and connective tissue. When we tune into our unique rhythms and constitution, we are able to identify troubled areas, prevent many future complications, and rejuvenate our attitudes towards day-to-day life.
Here’s the thing… Massage is good for ALL ages.
Pregnant women testify that prenatal massage helps reduce fatigue and tension that often builds during pregnancy. Within 20 seconds of a massage session mom (and baby) release oxytocin, a “bonding hormone” building trust and empathy between mother and child. Massage also slows cortisol, the stress hormone. One client reported a nearly “pain-free” delivery, attributing it to receiving massage treatments weekly for her second and third trimester. When the baby was 6 months old, I got to meet her. She typically didn’t take kindly to strangers but immediately recognized my voice and crawled into my arms.
In infancy bonding continues to be essential. We need touch from the moment we enter the world and we need it often. Studies show babies who are denied touch experience less nutritional absorption and have longer hospital stays and general complications. Our physiological and emotional health are dependent on our first tactile interactions with our families and the medical team.
Toddlers tend to display less hyperactivity and better sleep patterns when massaged regularly. More sleep for toddlers means more sleep for mom and dad… everyone’s happy! If we start at a young age developing body-awareness, we can better recognize positive and negative touch later in life. Asking permission is crucial, we want the child to know they have a voice for what’s happening in their personal space. Massage builds confidence and continues to encourage trust with our parents and caregivers.
Adolescence can be difficult, and even stressful for most youth. Peer and academic pressures are a lot for anyone to handle, let alone a 10 year old. Unfortunately, by this age many of us have experienced some sort of traumatic situation. Appropriate and consistent touch reduces some of the anxieties and psychological effects these traumas hold. Boundaries are a life-long process to understand, it’s important to start empowering our children early, so that they can navigate through life’s rough waters.
Adulthood. I’m guessing most of my readers fall into this category. The research all points to yes for therapeutic bodywork. Improve your digestion, mental clarity, sleep patterns and general well-being. Getting on a regular massage schedule keeps you on track with your day to day responsibilities. Read my previous article titled “Reignite the Artist Within.“ Honor your body and it will take care of you.
Geriatric massage improves muscle tone and mobility. By this point all of us have experienced some kind of personal injury or emotional trauma that can inhibit our energy levels and general motivation. Exercise and a healthy diet are musts at all stages, but as we age often we find it more difficult to overcome everyday aches and pains. Bonding is still essential, as our body ages our soul continues to flourish.
Hospice. Usually on-site, hospice massage provides added comfort and personal attention in the final phases of life. Hands-on therapy can relieve pain, reduce medication side-effects and provide a sense of delight for the giver, the receiver, and the family of the person in need.
Through all stages of life appropriate and consistent bodywork provides countless benefits. Isn’t it time for your next massage?