There’s nothing like a massage to soothe away stress and relax aching muscles, but the practice is much more than a day at the spa. Today, massage therapy is used to help manage a multitude of health conditions and to enhance wellness.
Throughout history, Eastern and Western cultures have employed massage for everything from treating chronic pain to preventing illness. The technique involves manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments through kneading, pressing, rubbing and stroking movements. There are several different types, including Swedish or therapeutic, deep tissue, sports, trigger point, myotherapy and shiatsu, among others.
“Massage is not just a luxurious spa treatment,” says Amy Stewart, LMT, owner of Massage 4 Natural Healing in Lewes. “Regular treatment has great healing benefits and can help relieve stress, improve circulation and strengthen your immune system. When our bodies are out of balance, it affects our emotional and mental state. Massage can help you relax, get out of your head, release emotional stress and allow your body to heal itself.”
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, the primary reason for receiving a massage in 2018 was for relaxation and stress reduction (66 percent), followed by health or medical reasons (62 percent), pampering and special occasions (60 percent), and health and wellness, including alleviating soreness and stiffness (48 percent). The majority of the individuals surveyed visited a massage therapist’s office or a spa for the treatment. An increasing number of medical professionals,—including chiropractors, physical therapists and primary care physicians—now recommend massage therapy to their patients as part of complementary and integrative medicine practices.
“We need to nurture and take care of ourselves so we’re better able to care for the people around us and have empathy for others.” —Krista King, LMT
“There are countless benefits of massage, both physical and mental,” adds Krista King, LMT, owner of Palpations Massage & Wellness for Humans and Canines in Milford. “Massage can be used to treat so many conditions, particularly due to overuse, repetitive motion injuries and chronic pain. With everything going on today, massage is more of a necessity than a luxury.”
King adds that self-care is especially important during these stressful times. “We need to nurture and take care of ourselves so we’re better able to care for the people around us and have empathy for others,” she says. She employs a combination of therapeutic massage and reiki, also known as energy healing, to help her clients relax, reduce pain and speed the healing process.
Diana Bozzo, LMT, owns Spirits Path to Wellness in Hockessin, which offers massage and bodywork, reiki, acupressure, oncology massage and chakra balancing. She believes massage works best with a blend of different modalities. “We focus on the body, energy and mind to relieve stress and anxiety, ease muscle tension, provide injury release, improve mobility and reduce insomnia,” she says. “Massage also leads to better self-awareness and mental focus, and can help people feel better energetically, spiritually and emotionally.”
Because massage is such a high-touch therapy, practitioners have been extremely cautious with regard to the use of personal protective equipment and sanitization measures. In addition to having clients sign questionnaires and health waivers about COVID-19, therapists wear masks during sessions and ask clients to do the same, using frequent sanitization procedures and adding HEPA-filtered air purifiers in massage facilities.
Massage therapists are typically certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) or the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). You can find licensed massage therapists in your area by visiting ncbtmb.org or amtamassage.org.