Saturday, June 23, 2007

Massage and Stress Management

I often read advertisements for massage and other forms of relaxation techniques that say they "get rid of stress." This particular phrasing bothers me, because what we are really doing is helping you manage the effects of stress. It is impossible for me, or any other health care provider, to remove the stressors from your life, and this claim smacks of false advertising to me.

However, although most of my practise comprises medical/therapeutic massage, rehabilitation massage, and so on, I do have the occasional opportunity to perform relaxation massage. There are those among us who refer to this as 'fluff and buff'; I use the phrase myself, but I do not mean to demean the practice of this type of massage.

In fact, there are days when a gentle relaxation, Swedish, whatever you wish to call it type of massage is just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes an hour of soft lighting, soothing music, and the undivided attention of caring hands is exactly what someone needs to restore them to a state of clear mind and healthy body.

This hour gives the body and mind a chance to let go of the physical and emotional tensions of the day. It's a chance to let the mind wander where it will, following the music or whatever paths it chooses, to explore the connection of mind and body. Many of my clients who receive regular massage, whether the relaxation or the more medical type, report to me that over time they have become more aware of their bodies and their response to stress factors.

I find this encouraging. Knowing when you are under stress, recognizing the effects in yourself, is half the battle to defeat those effects and reclaim good health for yourself.

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