Massage therapy is so much more than a way to relax. It restores physical vitality and mobility, encourages relaxation and an optimistic outlook, and offers a sense of being compassionately cared for.
As we age our bodies require more tender loving care than ever before, so we need to honor that by appreciating the benefits of massage and the importance of touch after 60. Regular massage can also offer medical benefits beyond relaxation that we may not have considered. Here are just a few of the health benefits of massage for women over 60.
Massage is not a one-size-fits-all modality, but rather we can choose different kinds of massage for different purposes. There are eleven organ systems in the body, so if you tell your therapist what you’re trying to accomplish through massage, she can guide you to the type of massage that is best for you. For example, lymphatic massage helps to alleviate lymphedema, a common occurrence after a mastectomy or other surgeries or treatments.
Tui na, shiatsu, and Thai massage are therapeutic massage modalities that use techniques similar to physical therapy and involve pressure point massage, joint manipulation, and assisted stretching. They uniquely improve and support musculoskeletal mobility, joint lubrication, and organ systems function.
One of the most common conditions we women over 60 face is osteoarthritis. In a recent study of the effectiveness of massage on this condition, participants who were treated with massage twice a week for four weeks and once a week for an additional four weeks, improved pain level by 23%, stiffness by 21%, and functionality by 21%. The control group showed no measurable improvement.
In light of the myriad side effects from drugs commonly used to treat osteoarthritis, massage promises to be a plausible option under the direction of a physician. With such dramatic results after only eight weeks, imagine what a year of weekly massages might do for us.
The most common reason we choose massage is for the love of it; it’s a perfect way to feel pampered. Massage reduces cortisol and elevates serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which combine to produce a number of mental and emotional benefits to the receiver. It alleviates depression, reduces fears and anxieties, enhances self-image, provides a relaxed and alert mind, and enhances competent thinking.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, studies have shown that massage is also a safe and cost effective means to calm people who suffer from Alzheimer’s, with the added benefit of comforting the caregiver. Even hand and foot massages can offer great benefits to the entire body.
Our skin is the largest organ system of our bodies and the first line of defense against the environment, so reward it for all it does with a circulation massage. It is the most familiar form of massage and has many physical and emotional benefits.
As we age and lose elasticity in our skin, massage circulates blood, oxygen, and nutrients to feed, tone, and improve the texture of our skin, while massage oils and lotions soothe and relieve it. Everyday aches and pains disappear as our muscles relax and our joints loosen. Muscle tone, flexibility and balance improve, and our bodies feel cared for, nurtured, and loved for an overall feeling of well-being. The magical fingers of a trained professional can soothe body, mind, and spirit.
If you’re ready to pamper your body with massage, seek a practitioner familiar with the unique needs of the senior body for optimum benefits, and be sure to check with your massage therapist for frequently offered senior discounts.
Another positive way to benefit from massage for free or at greatly reduced rates is to schedule your appointment through a massage, TCM, or healing arts school. Not only will you benefit, but also you will provide an opportunity for a student to practice her technique under the supervision of a licensed therapist and teacher. Send your body a love note with a healing touch massage.
What kind of massage do you think would be a good match for your particular needs? Please add your thoughts in the comments below.
Watch this video for more healthy lifestyle tips for women over 60.
Tags Healthy Aging