Therapeutic Massage May Rub You the Right Way

A few years ago my wife and I seemed to go through a phase where we would exchange gifts of massage. I would usually get a gift certificate to “Backrubs Are Us.” She would, in turn, get one to a local spa. Massages were somewhat expensive and since we both enjoyed them, they came as a treat several times a year. We even found a store at the mall that specializes in “massage paraphernalia.” We got ‘Bongers,” which are rubber balls on the end of a couple of flexible metal sticks.

You basically use them to beat on each other’s back like a drum. You have to be careful not to hit to hard around the tender area of the kidneys though, you might cause some damage. Then there are the little wooden rollers that kneed the flesh and are supposed to increase the circulation to that part of the body. We even got a scalp massager that looks like a big metal octopus or spider with flexible wire legs. There are two sets of legs; the inner ones adjust to the size of your head while the outer ones massage your scalp as you use the wood handle to push it up and down. It feels incredibly good after a hard day’s stress at work; the only drawback is that some times the metal spines get tangled up in your hair. One time she bought me one of those electric powered Shiatsu knuckle massager machines that were all the rage for a couple of years.

Then we upgraded to a massage seat liner that you put in your favorite chair, but it was sort of a disappointment. It was really more a vibrator than a massager and all it did was marginally tickle your back. We finally blew about $350.00 and bought a cheaper version of the $3,000.00 massage chair that had been a favorite of ours whenever we visited the Sharper Image store downtown. When the chair, which features numerous knuckles that Shiatsu you from your shoulders right down to your knees, first came out there was usually a line at the demonstrator model that they had in the store. We would discretely hover around the chair pretending that we were shopping, and as soon as it was empty, we jumped into it, sometimes fighting like a couple of kids to see who could go first.

Massage therapy used to be just a luxury in the country club locker room, but has recently come to be one of the fastest growing vocations for young people. Missouri and Illinois both have enacted licensing laws for massage therapists in the past two years. Unlike the shady massage parlors of years back, massage has today become a respected part of the medical community with recognized health benefits. It has been shown effective in everything from rehabilitating injury to helping relieve the pain of migraine headaches. Therapeutic massage now comes in three categories: there is massage just to relax, sports-based massage that is used to relieve sore muscles after exercise, and outcome-based; massage that has a specific therapeutic outcome in mind. It is recommended that if you are seeking massage to help a specific medical problem that you get a referral from your doctor. A local spa or mall place is perfectly fine to relax and relieve muscle soreness, as long as there is no injury involved.

Some therapists claim that a good massage can stimulate the release of endorphins and that the relaxation has definite psychological benefits. Some even claim that it gets the Chi flowing and also has a spiritual quality. One thing is for certain, if nothing else, it certainly just feels good.

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