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The Value of Massage for Caregivers

By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 4)

Massage Recommendations:

It is advisable for all persons interested in massage to consult first with their doctors to confirm that massage will be beneficial to them. There may be some conditions where massage is not recommended or specific techniques need to be limited. This may be especially true for some cancer patients or those who have varicose veins, skin inflammations, infections or tumors.

Locating a massage therapist can be done by word of mouth, through a physician or clinic or by contacting the American Massage Therapy Association. They represent therapists around the country and require members to follow specific practices and a strict code of ethics. Massage therapy services should be provided by a professional who has received proper training in a variety of techniques, has graduated from an accredited or approved program and is certified, licensed or regulated by the state. Ultimately, having a sense of trust and comfort with the therapist will reflect on the outcome of the massage experience.

Basics of Massage:

Once the choice to have a massage has been made, it is important to discuss general health questions, concerns and massage methods with the therapist. This will help alleviate apprehension and maximize the massage experience. A massage session will take place in a warm, comfortable and quiet room on a special massage table. Soft, relaxing music is played and the aroma of healing oils or scents may be present.

Most massage techniques are performed with the client unclothed; however, each person may decide what clothing to wear for their own comfort. The therapist will leave the room to allow the client privacy while disrobing. Clients then cover themselves with a sheet or towel and are properly draped at all times to maintain warmth and privacy. Only the area of the body being worked on will be exposed. It is important to discuss with the therapist which parts of the body need to be massaged such as back, arms, legs, feet, hands, head, neck and shoulders. Private areas will not be touched. A scented oil or lotion may be used to hydrate the skin and allow for smooth strokes.

Massage techniques include: basic rubbing strokes to stimulate blood vessels, rocking movements and the application of pressure to specific muscle points for tension release. The average full-body massage lasts about an hour while a half-hour session allows time for a focus on specific areas such as the back, neck and shoulders or legs and feet.

Most people close their eyes, listen to the music and become completely relaxed throughout the session. The therapist may gently move the body and talk briefly about the massage techniques that are being used. Clients should immediately communicate any discomfort they may be experiencing so that another approach can be taken. Massage is the most beneficial when the body is not resistive to touch and the client feels at ease with the experience.

Once the massage is completed, many people feel a sense of freedom and calmness. After an initial period of feeling slowed down, people often have an increase in energy, focus and productivity, which can last for many days. The frequency of receiving massage therapy varies from weekly to monthly depending on the perceived benefits, physical and emotional results and cost factors.

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