In my parents’ generation, people who paid personal trainers to get them into shape, had routine facials or indulged in routine massages were celebrities. You saw them being guided or pampered in movies or magazines and heaved huge, envious sighs, as if you just wanted to jump into their skin.
Today it’s more a matter of fitting these “luxuries” into our schedules. But are they truly luxuries any more? Studies have shown that regular exercise is a must as we age and that many of us don’t do it properly or get the kind of motivation we need without someone spurring us on. And the verdict is also in on how routine skin care at the hands of a professional esthetician can help minimize the aging process – something we all rail against past the age of 35 when that first laugh line magically appears.
But what about massage? Do you go to a massage therapist only when someone gives you a gift certificate or when you have achy muscles? Is it an event you plan only when going to a luxury hotel spa, where you’re willing to pay three times what you would for a local expert just for the memory of the elegant surroundings? Okay, I’ll do that too when I am somewhere on a special weekend. Still, it doesn’t stop me from going for a regular therapeutic massage once a month and, of course, I ALWAYS need it. Why? Because I have learned that the benefits of regular massage are off-the-charts surprising. Kevin, my friendly massage therapist, is a lifer; this means he is passionate about and a constant student of massage in all its intricacies. My heart skips a beat each time I go to book my monthly massage with him because I know my massage will be different every time — depending on my needs or the state of my health — and that I will walk out of there in a state of delightful suspended animation (why don’t these guys just factor in an hour’s snooze on the table when it’s over? After all, it’s their fault we are so relaxed…).
Regardless of the adjectives we use to describe massage (pampering, rejuvenating, therapeutic) or the reasons we look for it (a luxurious treat, stress relief, pain management), massage therapy and body care can be a powerful ally in any healthcare regimen.
Regular massage not only improves the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin; it also lessens and relieves stress, anxiety and depression, it enhances and boosts the immune system, releases endorphins for pain management, improves concentration and memory and enhances sleep quality.
I don’t know about you, but getting help with all that doesn’t sound like a luxury. Can I cut down on my Starbucks visits, buy one less item at the mall or opt out of drinks with the girls for a once-monthly massage therapy session? You betcha. It all depends on how much I value this body that has one chance to go around in life. And I think mine has been pretty good to me so far.