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How massages can ease aging issues

by Sue Lanza

Massage therapy has existed as a healing method for centuries but is currently expanding beyond spas into places like wellness centers, clinics and even airports. What is it about this ancient therapy that can help you age with greater ease?

Massage Defined

Simply put, massage therapy is a manual manipulation of the soft tissues of the body in order to achieve beneficial effects for the body and mind. Basic hand or foot massage can be done by anyone, but true massage therapy can only be conducted by a trained massage therapist.

You may think that massage is recently in vogue as well are all looking for relief from our bustling world. In reality, massage therapy was reported as far back as the second century B.C. in China and was noted in historical records of the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans as well as in olden India. It appears that massage was used in conjunction with traditional medicine. Awareness and use of massage for healing purposes waxed and waned over the years leading up to today.

Benefits of Massage

Massage involves gentle touch which is used to signal good feelings like support and compassion. Also, massage is a natural reaction to pain. If you stubbed your toe on a piece of furniture, isn't your first instinct to reach down and stroke your toe?

Research has shown that the majority of disease can be related to stress of some type. Massage, along with other therapeutic modalities, can offer a way to combat the stress through total body and mind relaxation.

Here are some of the undisputed advantages of massage therapy:

  • Lower the body's stress level
  • Improve circulation of blood through the body and fluids in the lymphatic system which can refresh all vital organs
  • Expands the movement and flexibility of joints
  • Softens tired and overworked muscles
  • Helps reduce recovery time from minor injuries or strenuous workouts
  • Assists with improving the range of motion for stiff or tight muscles
  • Discharges natural endorphins into the body which helps you relax and manage pain
  • Lessens the symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Enhances overall immunity of the body in fighting off infection
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Increases the body/mind connection

Massage Considerations for Seniors

Since we are all aging together, we need to ponder how massage can safely assist us in our natural aging process. Of all the benefits we discussed above, there are three advantages to massage therapy that ring true for relieving some of the major aging challenges:

  • Enhancing flexibility. The aging process and some common conditions such as arthritis add difficulty with normal flexibility of joints and mobility tasks. Massage can aid in joint health by alleviating stiff and creaky connections while adding to physical range.
  • Increasing circulation. Getting fresh blood flow and needed oxygen to muscles can significantly help with chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart conditions. Recovery after surgery or a minor injury can also be speeded by massage techniques that stimulate circulation and removes waste products.
  • Decrease depression symptoms. Massage therapy has been shown to relax muscles as well as help release negative tension and anxiety. Seniors often have to contend with losses and changes that can lead to depression.

Before checking out massage therapy, be sure to check in with your health care practitioner to be sure it fits into your wellness plan. You do want to be sure to explore your options in finding a certified, licensed or registered massage therapist, whatever qualification your state requires. Also be sure to avoid getting a massage if you are recovering from a fracture, have a severe medical condition such as osteoporosis or other unexplained pain. You can also look for special "geriatric massage" where the massage therapist is extra careful in placing you on the massage table and doesn't require you to change positions. Otherwise, if your doctor says yes, go for it! Ahhhhhhhh!