Getting a massage from a professional, licensed massage therapist (not just having your husband rub your back for a few minutes) is more than just an indulgence.  In fact, massage should be seen as a component of your overall fitness.  There’s more to massage therapy than just pampering and relaxation. Massage can also be beneficial for those who have undergone heart bypass surgery (aids recovery, reduces pain and swelling, and aids in circulation) and may improve the function of the immune system by helping the body rid itself of toxins.

According to the American Association of Massage Therapists, massage therapy can effectively treat many health concerns, including back pain.  Massage treatment for back pain has been so effective, according to research, that it can actually reduce the sufferer’s reliance on medication and other more invasive medical treatments.

Massage is also very helpful for breast cancer survivors, both before and after surgery.  Not only is it therapeutic for helping breast cancer survivors deal with the traumatic emotional effects of breast cancer, but specially trained massage therapists can perform special massages that help drain lymph nodes and keep swelling and other painful symptoms.

There are several different kinds of massage techniques, depending on your health needs.  Swedish massage uses long, gentle strokes and kneading mostly for relaxation and stress relief.  Deep tissue massage uses much stronger pressure to help aid in the recovery from injury or to relieve chronic pain. Sport massages target specific areas of the body to keep the muscles loose and flexible to help prevent injury.  Reflexology massages are massages specifically focused on the hands and feet.

Massage can be an indulgence, yes, but it can be so much more than that.  Massage can help increase circulation, improve your posture, relieve tension headaches, and even lower blood pressure. Just try getting a massage and see how much lower your blood pressure is!

We women often put ourselves last on the list of priorities, and massage may be something you would not dream of indulging in, because of time or money.  If you are worried about time, schedule just 30 minutes – a lunch hour – for a massage.  If you are worried about money, ask for a gift certificate for a massage for your birthday or Mother’s Day.  Once you’ve experienced the benefits massage offers, you’ll find a way to make it a regular part of your health and fitness routine.