Massages can provide many therapeutic benefits


It used to be that massages were a luxury and only offered in spas and health clubs, but now massages are offered everywhere, from airports and malls to businesses and schools. You can get a quick, rejuvenating 5-minute chair massage or a relaxing 90-minute full-body massage. There are so many options to choose from, and you can tailor it to your specific needs. In addition to relaxation, there are many therapeutic benefits that help with the management of chronic pain.

It is reported that massages effectively reduce stress, muscle pain and tension and help with these conditions: low back pain, fibromyalgia pain, tension headaches, rheumatoid arthritis pain, neck pain, high blood pressure. It can decrease symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, improve cardiovascular health, sleep, digestive disorders and balance, reduce symptoms of depression and increase a joint's range of motion.

There are many different types of massages ranging from gentle pressure and strokes that help promote relaxation to deep-tissue massages that work through the layers of the muscles and connective tissues. Even though they are different, they can help improve overall quality of life.

Massages should not be painful. A deep-tissue massage can be slightly uncomfortable, but for the most part, massages should help you relax. Experiencing some soreness the next day is normal, so drink plenty of fluids and stretch. Experts suggest that massages may not be appropriate if you have osteoporosis, burns or open wounds, blood disorders of deep-vein thrombosis.

Getting a massage can really help you improve your well-being. Whether you use self-massage techniques, use massage tools that reach specific areas or hire a massage therapist, you will experience some benefits. But as with anything, the more you massage regularly, the greater the benefit.

If you are looking for a massage therapist, it is important to interview them. While most states regulate massage therapists through licensing and certification requirements, you will want to make sure their training, experience and cost meets your needs and expectations.

Massage therapy is considered an alternative medicine that is sometimes used in addition to standard medical treatments. Massage is not a replacement for medical care or treatment, and you should consult your physician before you get a massage, especially if you are under current medical care.

Missy Corrigan is executive of community health for Sumter Family YMCA. She can be reached at or (803) 773-1404.