Q. After I get a massage, I feel great. Does massage have any therapeutic benefits?
A. Yes! As a form of therapy dating back thousands of years, massage is known for promoting health, decreasing psychological and physical stress, and enhancing overall well-being. Because it passively increases circulation, massage can help people with a wide range of conditions and symptoms, including chronic back and neck pain, headaches, and anxiety.
There’s a wealth of research available on the benefits of massage therapy. Studies show that it can increase the immune system’s ability to fight infection in people with HIV, help autistic children, alleviate symptoms of pain and itching experienced by burn victims, and benefit children with cystic fibrosis.
Massage isn’t only for those with symptoms; it can also be used to help prevent a variety of health problems, and is known to be especially helpful in the prevention of sports injuries. Many professional athletes regularly use massage to soothe tired muscles, increase flexibility, and reduce their recovery time after athletic performances.
Massage is a gentle, deliberate method of touching the body to obtain a desired effect.
Massage therapy is a licensed profession in Hawai’i, requiring practitioners to attend a six-month program at an approved massage therapy school. Students take courses in the theory and practice of massage, including anatomy, physiology, and structural kinesiology, and pass written exams before they become licensed.
There are many kinds of massage therapy, each with its own style and potential health benefits. Well-known types include Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, and lomi lomi massage, to name a few.
Swedish is the most common type taught in massage schools; deep tissue requires additional training. Lomi lomi, a wonderful form of Hawaiian massage that includes prayer and long massage strokes to help integrate the body and spirit, is an intuitive art that has been passed down for generations.
Some forms of massage therapy are generally recommended for relaxation and stress relief, while others are best used for more strictly medical purposes. Often I prescribe massage to help my patients with specific structural or muscular problems. As a former licensed massage therapist, I know first-hand that massage can be of far-reaching therapeutic value — and a great way of keeping in touch with your health.
Article was originally printed in the Honolulu Advertiser, honoluluadvertiser.com