Touch is an often underappreciated sensory experience. Most people identify their worlds by what they see with their eyes and what they hear with their ears. However, these same individuals bump into each other’s physical and metaphorical worlds all the time. Feeling direct contact with one’s surroundings is an irreplaceable part of how human beings function and interact. And although it is distressing, feeling pain is a necessary, evolutionary way to learn how to avoid danger. Conversely, the practice of massage therapy has demonstrated a myriad of different benefits for all sorts of individuals who understand the value of therapeutic touch.
In order to feed the need for more massages, the third week of July was established as EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week. From July 12th to the 18th, both massage therapists and their respective customers are encouraged to set up events within their local communities to not only help underserved populations, but to promote the restorative power of massage therapy as well. In short, the event’s simple message is that everybody deserves a massage now and again.
What is massage therapy?
For those who are unfamiliar, massage is essentially a term for pressing, rubbing or shaping up particular parts of the body for an intended benefit. Focused areas are usually an individual’s skin, muscles and other ligaments. Depending on the specific style, a massage may range from light to deep pressure. While it has distant origins, the practice has been adopted by many larger institutions and is commonly used to treat excess stress, soreness and injury.
Over the last decade or so, research initiatives have amassed a collection of important findings that paint a positive picture of massage therapy and its efficacy. For example, a 2002 review of different alternative health care practices used by people with serious mental disorders found that after spiritual activities and meditation, massage was the third most common method of alternative treatment reported at 31 percent. In terms of benefits, the research went on to find that massages were primarily linked to muscle relaxation, reduced pain and increased emotional calmness. A small pilot study that examined the effect of aromatherapy massage on mood, anxiety and relaxation also noticed a significant amount of improvement. Using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) Scale before and after six weeks of treatment, researchers found that six out of eight adult participants left therapy in a markedly better state than before their first massage.
Another scientific exploration of alternative and complementary medicine found that the addition of massage or a number of other modalities to traditional psychotherapy resulted in reported changes of multiple trauma recovery dimensions. Study participants perceived increased interpersonal safety, interpersonal boundary setting, body sensations and reduced body shame. Clients were subjectively pleased with the service they were given in addition to the objective results. Hard data from mental health clinicians showed a strong association with therapeutic, psychological outcomes.
Adding a touch of massage therapy to one’s life
Kristin Coverly, RMT and the Professional Development Manager of Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals, identifies some possible ideas for promotional massage therapy events that can be made into a relieving reality. Examples include:
- Organizing a “massage-a-thon” to raise money for a local charity.
- Incorporating massage volunteers for a race or walk held in one’s area.
- Offering free massages to local fire or police departments, teachers, veterans or others who commonly experience stress and do not ordinarily receive a massage.
- Managing a food drive to exchange donations for discounted massages.
EveryBody Deserves a Massage Week was created in 1995 by the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (ABMP). The organization is the largest massage association in the United States with approximately 80,000 members and growing. Most important, ABMP supports the overall community of massage therapists through a consistent presence in the practice, ethics, advocacy and education of various massage services. Their official website has also provided customized materials and informative videos that give various individuals the ability to rally the cause.
Sovereign Health Group is an organization that integrates the most innovative and evidence-based practices to its curriculum of therapeutic resources. To effectively serve our clientele of individuals struggling with mental disorders and addiction, Sovereign utilizes ways to reduce stress, anxiety and pain to ensure a smooth course through recovery. If you or a loved one is curious about yoga or other sources of therapeutic exercise to treat a serious condition, contact our admissions helpline online or call (866) 819-0427 to learn more.
Written by Lee Yates, Sovereign Health Group writer