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Massage Is Not a Luxury and I’m Not High Maintenance

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Editor's Note

Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

These are tough and challenging times. As the fight against COVID-19 wages on, many of us find ourselves fighting battles of another nature. Whether they be mental or physical concerns, prolonged inaccessibility to healthcare services can have a significant impact on our overall wellness. In my case, I’m in the midst of a full-body pain flare.

What Is Happening?

There are many reasons for the pain spike:

  • Working long hours on the computer in a seated position – work is COVID related, and can’t be helped
  • Poor diet — recently rectified but still contributing
  • Limited opportunity for physical activity — due to facility closures, but mostly due to long hours at work
  • Stress — at home, at work, self-induced… it’s everywhere
  • Inaccessible healthcare services — by healthcare services, I mean my doctor, my rheumatologist and my registered massage therapist.

Yes, I said it. Massage Therapist.

I have one, and she has saved my life, my sanity and my mobility more than once! In fact I call her my pain therapist. She’s a necessary partner in my mental and physical wellness journey, so I tend to get my nose out of joint when people give me the gears for getting a regular massage. Really, I think I’ve heard it all…”Oh, must be nice to be so pampered. Wow, you’re so lucky. Oh, another spa day, good for you.”

Not cool!

Nope. Nope. Nope! Cut the stigma, people. I am in pain. All day. Every day. Full stop. Massage helps to reduce my pain. Note — I said reduce. Not eliminate. My pain, whether brought on by fibromyalgia or ankylosing Spondylitis or both, will never go away.

My goal has been and will always be pain management. I’ve been on my wellness journey for a long time. Twenty-five years — give or take a year — and during those pain-filled days, months, years, decades, I’ve used the services of chiropractors, physiotherapists, homeopaths and nutritionists. The one I keep coming back to, like a compass needle to North, is my massage therapist.

Why is that? Well, it’s simple. Massage helps me to manage my chronic pain by:

  • Reducing muscle tension
  • Preventing joint immobility
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving blood circulation
  • Correcting posture damage from sitting
  • Stimulating the lymphatic system
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Producing feelings of comfort, caring and connection

It’s Science, Baby.

But listen, don’t just take my word for it. There are plenty of studies that show massage is an effective treatment for any number of conditions. Thankfully, these days, massage is often recommended along with other “standard” medical treatments and drug therapies.

Chronic headaches? Get a massage. Digestive disorders? Get a massage. Tendonitis? Get a massage. Feeling blue? Get a massage. Bad hair day? Get a massage. Hell, you don’t need a reason, or an excuse, if you feel like you need a massage, or want a massage, don’t hesitate! Make an appointment. Go ahead. Do it. But seriously, check with your doctor first, because sadly massage isn’t for everyone. Like any therapy, there are risks. Specifically, consult a medical professional if you have:

Also, a word of caution, finding the right massage therapist for you is essential because some therapists can do more damage than good. I had my back go out for two weeks after a bad massage. Worst pain ever! Trust me. You want to avoid this.

My recommendations:

  • Ask a doctor or a friend for a referral
  • When you meet your service provider — don’t be afraid — ask questions. Discuss your concerns. Pinpoint your problem areas and articulate your needs/goals
  • Agree on a treatment plan and a price point in advance. Yes, if you don’t have insurance coverage, massage therapy services can be expensive, but remember, this is your health we’re talking about, and your health is worth the investment
  • Get as naked as you are comfortable with and no more. Want to leave your socks on? Leave em on. Want to strip off your undies. Strip em off. Point is — you need to be comfortable on and off the table
  • Be vocal. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. Massage can leave you feeling sore for a day or two, but it shouldn’t increase your pain or put your back out of whack
  • Relax (or try to) and enjoy those parts of the massage that do feel a little pamper-ish. Yes, massage can be a powerful aid along your wellness journey, but it can also just be a feel-good moment when you need it

Bottom Line…

Regular massage therapy is not a luxury or a splurge. It is an essential part of many people’s health and well-being, and an indispensable part of mine.

How about you? Any of your pain-relieving therapies getting a bad rap? Got any recommendations for me to try? Just want to drop a line to say hello and connect? Go ahead and leave a comment!

Photo by Chris Jarvis on Unsplash

Originally published: September 25, 2020
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