A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a friend and the topic turned to massage. During the conversation, she said something along the lines of, “Well, massage is more of a luxury than a necessity.”
As you can imagine, I was a little offended by this. No, not so offended that I ended our friendship or gave her the silent treatment until she apologized or anything dramatic like that. I try not to let people’s opinions bring out my inner beast, but her comment did shake me up a little. Not because of what she said, but more because the realization that this type of mindset is what we massage therapists actively try to combat every day.
Is massage a wonder drug? No. Will it heal every illness or ache? No. Do we replace medical physicians? Heck no. Is a massage therapist the first person to call during an emergency. Of course not.
So why do I feel so strongly about massage therapy? Why is it more than just a luxury?
People often think of luxuries as something expensive, something difficult to obtain or something to do when you have extra money. We often function with luxuries without a second thought – a car, a cell phone, a tablet, etc. If I asked you to live without such items, you would probably gasp and rally to tar and feather me in the public square. But when I ask you to try massage to help ease your stress levels and headaches or back aches, massage is considered a luxury. If a one hour-long massage a month really is a luxury, it’s the most affordable one I can think of.
I spent over $13,000 and over 1,100 hours studying to be a massage therapist. (New York state requirements are double that of Florida requirements, and my school went beyond the New York requirements in order to ensure we had the best education possible.) I have lost count of the hours logged and dollars spent towards continuing education since graduating massage school in 2008. I wouldn’t have spent that much time or money studying something if I didn’t truly believe in it. I strongly believe in this modality that has proven to help and maintain a healthy lifestyle since approximately 3000 BC.
The #1 reason why I became a massage therapist? I wanted to help people. Yes, helping people relax is helping people, but massage is so much more than that. I really want to stomp my foot or bang my fist on the desk to emphasize that fact, but I’ll refrain. I’ll act like an adult. Besides, nobody is here in my office right now to listen to me anyway.
There are many benefits besides relaxation including, but not limited to:
● Increases circulation
● Improves flexibility and range of motion
● Decreases depression and anxiety
● Decreases muscular tension
● Promotes tissue regeneration
● Reduces scar tissue, adhesions and swelling
● Improves posture
● Improves rehabilitation after injury
● Lowers blood pressure
● Improve sleep quality
● Improves the condition of the skin
● Strengthens the immune system by stimulating lymphatic flow
This list could go on and on; however, I think you can see that massage is a powerful tool for improving your health and well-being.
Massage is a workout for your body. And, much like going to the gym, the results are cumulative. You wouldn’t get lasting results from working out just once; you would get stronger and healthier if you made exercise a part of your daily routine. You won’t get lasting results from one massage, but you will keep healthier and more balanced if you made massage a part of your health maintenance routine.
About 50% of our clientele come to us because they have something that needs to be “fixed.” They get chronic headaches or they have tennis elbow or something of the like. About 40% come for the relaxation and stay for the benefits, the improved quality of life. The other 10%? Well, perhaps we weren’t a good match or they were visiting from out of town, but we’ve only seen them once. And that’s okay. We are honored that they gave us the chance to work with them. Our best hope is that we’ve sent them off with a positive view of massage.
So, to answer the big question: why is massage more than a luxury? To put it as simply as I can: Because you deserve it. Because the investment in you and your health is worth it. Because you deserve a better quality of life. Because you deserve to breathe better due to your improved posture. Because you deserve to have your body function better. Because you deserve to live pain-free. Because you deserve that hour of time that is completely dedicated to you, dedicating to improving your physical, mental and emotional well-being.