Getting Real With Lisa Van De Graaff, LMT
For many of us, massage is a decadent indulgence we afford ourselves only when on vacation. As overworked mothers, we fantasize about a spa getaway vacation with our girlfriends. However, massage can also be a great way to maintain good health and a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.
Massage – more generally referred to as bodywork – supports good health in a number of ways.
The state of relaxation achieved by many recipients of massage is a parasympathetic state for the body. It is the place of rest (versus the sympathetic fight or flight state most of us live in when we face the everyday stresses of life). In the parasympathetic state, the body heals itself. This also happens with a good night’s sleep or a deep meditation.
A massage therapist manipulates our body for us, or assists our movements, to move blood and lymph through the body. This process, like regular exercise, maximizes both the delivery of nutrients throughout our body as well as the processing of waste. Massage stirs things up, and with the help of good hydration, flushes toxins from the body.
Massage can also alleviate pain. The hands of a trained therapist can release adhesions in muscle and connective tissue (also known as that knot in your shoulder). Bodyworkers can help lengthen muscles with assisted stretches and reflex responses (thereby lessening your back pain). I’ve even had “Boom! It’s gone” moments with clients that suddenly regained full range of motion in a joint after a bodywork session.
These physiotherapeutic reasons alone are enough to seek out a massage therapist for regular treatment, but the reason that I personally feel the greatest benefit from bodywork is compassion. The practitioners that are drawn to bodywork as a profession are immensely intuitive and empathetic. Even the most scientific of us, the ones that study anatomy for fun, have a tremendous capacity for love. So when a client chooses bodywork as a way to nurture their bodies, they are treated to an unconditional acceptance by the therapist that also nurtures the soul.
Where else do we receive validation that we are who we are and that is absolutely all right in every way?
One of my teachers once told me that massage is two parasympathetic nervous systems working together for mutual healing. I believe this to be absolutely true, and I know that massage is one way that we can support both our bodies and our hearts.