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Massage - Not Just for Pampering Anymore

Massage can boost mood and immunity, relieve pain, prevent injuries and help cancer patients to feel better.

It’s been a tough winter…on backs, shoulders, and necks from weeks and weeks of shoveling. If your muscles are feeling the ill effects of moving all this snow around, you could seek pain relief from gels, patches or medications, but you might also consider booking a massage to ease those aches and prevent further injury.

“When clients tell me they are experiencing muscle tightness, I focus on that part of their body in order to loosen and condition the muscle,” says Jennifer Edmunds, a Licensed Massage Therapist who sees clients at Arlington Chiropractic. “If the tight muscles don't get fixed, there is potential for a more serious injury.”

Edmunds says massage increases nourishing blood flow to injured areas and promotes overall health by stimulating, regenerating and relaxing the body’s organ systems. She cites research showing that massage can also decrease stress hormones and increase lymphocytes—cells responsible for a healthy immune system response.

“Massage helps with the everyday stresses that people put on their bodies,” says Edmunds, noting that anyone with a cold, flu, or other infectious condition should avoid massage until they are healed. You may also want to check with your doctor before scheduling a massage if you have any health concerns, she says. “If there is ever a question, you can consult your physician ahead of time or have a conversation with your massage therapist.”

Edmunds is among a growing number of practitioners offering specialized massage to those battling cancer. Hospitals like the Boston Medical Center feature massage for cancer patients to alleviate depression, nausea, pain, fatigue, and anxiety during treatment. Eric Volkin, who also practices oncology massage in Arlington, says that the release of endorphins during a session does much to improve a patient’s wellbeing. “Massage gives them the opportunity to receive nurturing touch that’s healing,” Volkin says. “It feels much better than getting poked and prodded with needles.”

Volkin, who works out of The Arlington Center, says that very few of his clients come in solely for relaxation these days. “About 90 percent of the people who come to see me are in for very specific issues that they want to have treated,” he reports, citing complaints like shoulder and neck pain or limitation, along with low back and repetitive stress injuries. Volkin often treats these conditions in concert with medical doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists.

 “I get referrals from conventional and alternative practitioners who acknowledge that the work I do is complementary to what they are doing,” says Volkin. “If I can prepare the client’s tissue to accept their treatments, it makes their job easier and gives them a better body to work with.”

As someone who treats herself to a few massages a year, I can attest to the many benefits, including reduced pain and tension, glowing skin, shining eyes, better sleep and deep relaxation. When my husband came home from his very first massage last year, he could barely articulate his appreciation before lying down for a long, restorative nap. As Volkin remarks, massage is not only good for the body.

“It slows down the mental process,” he remarks. “It’s very difficult to worry about things when you’re getting an awesome massage.”

Jennifer Edmunds offers a $10 discount on massage to Arlington Chiropractic patients. Eric Volkin sees clients by appointment at The Arlington Center. If you're shopping for Valentine’s Day gifts, Murray Muscular Therapy Associates in Arlington Center is offering reduced pricing on gift certificates through February 12.

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