Have you had your tires rotated recently? Been to the dentist for a cleaning? There are some appointments you don’t think twice about making—they’re just a part of life. It’s time to think of massage as routine maintenance.
“… But My Body Doesn’t Hurt”
We automatically schedule routine maintenance for our cars, but all too often, we don’t give our bodies the same consideration. Fail to get your oil changed or your tires rotated, and you can count on some major problems down the road. Similarly, when you fail to pay attention to your body and provide it with the care it deserves, you may very well run into health issues that could have been prevented.
Think of it this way: vehicle maintenance (like oil changes and tire rotations) isn’t something you do only when there’s a problem—it’s something you do to prevent problems from happening in the first place. The same holds true with your body. Just because you don’t currently have an injury or an urgent reason to receive bodywork doesn’t mean you shouldn’t schedule regular sessions to prevent those problems from happening down the line. In addition, studies have shown that the most significant, lasting benefits of massage are found with repeated sessions, not just a one-time visit.1
What types of problems can result from inattention to your body? Stress- or repetitive motion-related injuries are the first things that come to mind, but tight muscles and pain due to posture, as well as recurring migraines, are also potential problems. Conditions such as these, which start as a nuisance but accumulate into major problems over a long period of time, are much more difficult to fix after the fact than they are to prevent. And once the damage is done, it can often last for years. Don’t wait until it’s too late to give your body some TLC.
“… But I’m already Relaxed”
Simply put, massage should be an integral part of any well-rounded lifestyle that embraces health and wellness. Even if you only look at the massage hour as an opportunity to unplug from the noise and the stress of everyday life, that’s fine too. Massage has been proven to reduce stress, and reducing stress has been clearly associated with a number of significant health benefits.2
That being said, massage does not simply promote relaxation (although it does that in spades)—it improves flexibility, reduces blood pressure, improves sleep, and may even facilitate a change in one’s sense of self by encouraging body awareness and enhancing your ability to experience your body in a more positive way.3
“… But I Don’t Have the Time”
Don’t think you have time to get a massage? Committing to a healthy lifestyle that includes regular bodywork doesn’t mean you need to clear enough time for a 90-minute stone massage every week. Bodywork comes in many forms, some of which are tailored specifically for busy individuals like yourself. Chair massages are great for a quick “recharge and refresh” session—consider a 30- or even 15-minute chair massage on your lunch break.
It’s time to make time for you! If you’re relatively healthy and injury-free, congratulations—now take steps to ensure you stay that way for years to come and schedule your next sessions today.
1. Yan-hui Li et al., “Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials,” PLoS ONE 9, no. 2 (2014); Mark H. Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee, “A Preliminary Study of the Effects of Repeated Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Healthy Individuals,” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 18, no. 8 (2012): 789–97. 2. Tiffany Field et al., “Cortisol Decreases and Serotonin and Dopamine Increase Following Massage Therapy,” International Journal of Neuroscience 115, no. 10 (2005): 1397–1413. 3. D. Hopper et al., “Dynamic Soft Tissue Mobilisation Increases Hamstring Flexibility in Healthy Male Subjects,” British Journal of Sports Medicine 39, no. 9 (2005): 594–8; X. J. Xiong, S. J. Li, and Y. Q. Zhang, “Massage Therapy for Essential Hypertension: A Systematic Review,” Journal of Human Hypertension (July 3, 2014); Tiffany Field et al., “Lower Back Pain and Sleep Disturbance are Reduced Following Massage Therapy,” Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 11, no. 2 (2007): 141–145; Thomas F. Cash and Thomas Pruzinsky, eds., Body Images: Development, Deviance, and Change (New York: The Guilford Press, 1990).
Brandon Twyford is Editor, Online & Digital Strategy for Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals