For years, many people who needed a little “me time” visited upscale spas and resorts for a soothing massage.
However, as more and more discover the benefits of this relaxing practice, it has become mainstream and is being offered in salons, clinics, hospitals and even airports.
So why has massage become so popular?
Beyond relaxation, studies continue to prove the physical and emotional benefits from even a single session.
Medically, massage therapy encourages relaxation, lowers blood pressure, loosens muscles and relieves stress.
According to Linda Zani Thomas’ article, Massage: A Feel-Good Treat that Works Wonders, people with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities are now discovering it provides a lot more such as:
- increased range of motion,
- sensory tolerability,
- improved communication and social skills,
- pain relief and
- bonding with a caregiver.
Massage and autism
Massage therapy is also popular in the treatment of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders.
For a population that typically shies away from physical contact, it provides positive experiences in touching and being touched.
Because light touch is over-stimulating to many people with autism, some therapists find it most effective to use deep massage and joint compression techniques when working with these individuals, as noted in Michael Regina-Whiteley’s article, Autism and Treatment with Therapeutic Massage.
Massage benefits for people in wheelchairs
Some people confined to a wheelchair experience irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, build-up of fluid in feet, ankles and legs and overall soreness from limited physical activity and natural movement. Massage helps by stimulating muscles that are not functioning properly while assisting the body through its natural processes.
In her article, The Rewards of Working with the Developmentally Disabled, Linda Fehrs, LMT, notes several benefits of massage. Whether it’s from the one-on-one attention or simply the power of touch, studies have shown that
• people who are typically sluggish or withdrawn have become more alert and reactive;
• people who are agitated and violent have become more relaxed and noncombative; and
• people who don’t communicate or interact have become engaged and even speak.
Ask your physician for a prescription
The benefits of massage have become so widely recognized that many physicians, orthopedists and neurologists now write prescriptions for massage as part of a patient’s treatment plan. In fact, many insurance companies cover the cost of massage therapy if it’s prescribed and deemed medically necessary.
Massage therapy is not meant to replace regular medical care; however, it can certainly add to an individual’s overall well-being. Beyond the benefits for specific conditions, diseases or disabilities, some people simply enjoy massage because it involves caring, comfort and a sense of empowerment and connection.