Massage for health

by Daniel Lihach
hen we were children, we were taught three basic prin- cipals of good health: eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. But few of us realized that there is a fourth crucial component: circulatory massage.

Massage has been around for thousands of years. It is perhaps the oldest form of medical treatment. Ancient Egyptian tombs, older than 2000 years, have massage techniques depicted on the walls. In the 5th century B.C., Hypocrites, "The Father of Medicine," wrote, "The physician must be experienced in many things, but assuredly in rubbing." In the 11th Century, Avicenna, a physician and philosopher, wrote that, "The object of massage is to disperse the effete matters found in muscles."

When you bang your shin bone on an end table, you immediately hold and rub the injured area until the pain subsides. A mother cradles and rocks her baby to calm and soothe it. This is natural; it's instinctual. A trained massage therapist multiplies these instinctual methods a thousand times.

Think of the human body as a locomotion machine, composed of levers and joints all held together by muscles. All designed to give us motion.

Muscles contract to move the body. Contraction is what they are designed to do. When you exercise, your muscles contract. When you are stressed, your muscles contract. When you are cold, your muscles contract. The only problem is that they don't always stop contracting; they don't always fully release. They remain partially constricted.

Everyone can recall when, after a particularly long walk or a hard workout, how their muscles felt stiff and sore. Depending on the intensity of the labor, this stiffness can last for days or weeks. Prolonged muscle contraction, whether from stress or physical labor, can become chronic and lead to hypertension.

Tight, constricted musculature can cause all sort of ailments. Stiff shoulder and neck muscles can cause headaches and migraines. Tight hamstrings can lead to poor posture and lower back problems. Limited range of motion from tension makes the body more prone to accidents and injuries.

Tension also reduces blood flow when the tiny capillaries are constricted by the surrounding tissues. This reduced blood flow slows down the circulation of life-sustaining nutrients, and inhibits lymph and antibodies from fighting off diseases and infections.

A client of mine suffers from chronically tight shoulders and upper back. This was a situation which developed over a long period from a very stressful job and family life. Over the years, the accumulated stress and muscle constriction progressed to the point where my client could no longer raise her hands over her head. Her muscles had forgotten how to relax. The body had forgotten what normal was and the constricted state became the norm. This happens to all of us to one degree or another. Many times, the changes in our bodies are so slow and gradual that we are never aware of what is happening.

The first time I worked with this client I could not believe how tight her upper back was. When I first laid my hand on her back, it was like touching a rock. Now, after repeated treatments, she is once again able to lift her arms.

Therapeutic circulatory massage does what its name implies: it relaxes tight, taut muscles allowing greater blood circulation, allowing faster recovery times from heavy work outs and increased the circulation of life giving nutrients and antibodies.

The harder you work out and the more stress you have, the more you need regular massages. Like a car, the faster the engine runs and the rougher the road, the more tune-ups and wheel alignments you need. Massage lubricates the body, opening up tight muscles and joints, allowing the body to find its natural and correct alignment.

Good health is really very simple: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep and get massages. Massage: it does a body good.