By Charlynn Avery
I still remember my first massage. It was my 20th birthday, and I wanted to do something special to commemorate the beginning of my third decade of life. I decided to get a massage because I wanted to be pampered and to feel relaxed. At the time, the thought of massage as a regular practice was the furthest thing from my mind. It would be a once-a-year luxury experience; something I couldn’t budget on a regular basis as a struggling college student.
Once I got off the table, however, my perspective had changed completely. Of course I felt relaxed but it went so much further than that – on every level, I was improved. My skin glowed, my muscles felt loose, I stood up straighter, I slept better and I felt happy. I remember saying that it was the best $60 I had ever spent on myself. And a few years later, I found myself in massage school with the goal of helping others achieve that very same realization.
Benefits of massage
I hear a lot of folks say that massage is a luxury and is too expensive to do on a regular basis. However, with the many proven benefits of massage it should be part of a regular health care regimen for long-term physical, emotional and mental well-being. One of my favorite clients from a few years ago shared the way she was able to budget massage into her life – she simply swapped a detrimental habit (smoking) for massage. She said, “I decided to reward myself for not smoking by getting a monthly massage. In addition to making my doctor happier, the expense of massage was much less than my pack-a-day smoking habit.”
We can all find ways to make room in the budget to do something that takes care of our health in the long term. In the last decade alone, I have given and received thousands of massages and am well-versed in the benefits. For my own overall health and wellness, massage takes place about every three weeks. Regular massage is different for different people. For some of us, once a month is enough – and for others once a week is the standard. Whatever your body needs – and only you know – is what your “regular” should be.
If it isn’t part of your life right now, here are five reasons to add the wonderful preventative health practice of massage into your wellness routine:
- Improved function in body systems: Of course the muscular system benefits from massage – we feel it immediately when pain subsides or tension releases. But ALL of our body systems benefit from massage – our circulation improves, our skin is renewed, we experience relaxation within the nervous system and our digestion improves.
- Increased focus and concentration: Studies show that people who receive massage during the day perform better at work and with daily tasks.
- A better delivery: Expectant mothers who receive massage experience less pain during labor and delivery. Additionally, the duration of not only labor, but the following hospital stay, are reduced as well.
- Decreased stress: Many people associate massage with relaxation. It helps us cope with stress and a variety of mental and emotional issues. We simply cope better, with a better mood, when we get massaged.
- A good night’s sleep: Massage helps us sleep better and we don’t have to have a massage right before bedtime to feel the effects at night. This leads to a better tomorrow with more energy and less stress.
Of course, as an aromatherapist I also believe that essential oils help maximize the benefits of massage in profound and delightful ways. Whether you want to formulate your own oil for your massage therapist to use or simply improve your self massage practice, check out these tips and recipes for aromatherapy massage.
Share your memory of your first massage in the comments!
About the author: Charlynn Avery, aromatherapist and educator for Aura Cacia, is on a quest to change the way we look at health and healing in the U.S. She has spent her career practicing and teaching in the arena of holistic health and wellness as a licensed massage therapist, and currently holds additional certifications in Holistic Nutrition, Thai Massage and Life Coaching. Although she loves natural healing, she loves spending time in nature even more. An avid traveler both for work and pleasure, she can often be found getting her U.S. National Park Passport stamped or reading a good book in an airport.