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Rubbing Pain the Right Way

Filed Under: Health Aids at 4:28 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
MassageI spent the last ten minutes staring blankly at the computer screen, dreaming about massages rather than focusing on stringing together sentences. That is the effect the mere idea of massage has on me and quite likely you. A massage is a luxurious, knot-kneading indulgence that all of us fantasize about but few receive. It does, after all, require time and money, commodities that are increasingly scarcer in our lives, and a removal of guilt, since we view it as a rare treat. But perhaps that should change.

Massage is more than a path to relaxation. It has been used for thousands of years to heal, today treating ailments ranging from arthritis to diabetes to fatigue.  Doctors regularly recommend it as a way to relieve anxiety and lessen pain, claiming that the powers of massage stretch into nearly every aspect of health. And they do. Take, for example, post-op recovery. When patients received five months of massage therapy after heart surgery, their reported levels of pain all but disappeared. In fact, they went from an average rating of three (on a scale from one to 10) to less than one.  The patients were considerably more comfortable, making the recovery process a great deal easier. The same would hold true for most conditions, but, as with everything, you have to be careful.

Massage therapy should only be performed by a licensed professional.  This includes massage therapists, physical therapists and occupational therapists. An untrained masseuse can actually worsen your health, causing internal bleeding, nerve damage and temporary paralysis.  You should also only enlist it as a complementary treatment if your doctor approves it. Certain conditions make massage therapy more dangerous to the individual, something you want to avoid. Finally, you should ensure that you are at ease with the idea of a massage. You are going to disrobe, oils may be rubbed on you, a stranger will most certainly be manipulating every inch of your body with his/her hands and you could experience temporary discomfort. If any of these aspects render massage unappealing, you shouldn’t get one. Massage therapy only works when your mind and body are open to it, but when it does, it does.

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