*What is massage therapy?

Massage therapy spans a wide variety of therapeutic approaches, working to improve individual's health and well being through the hands-on manipulation of muscles and other soft tissues of the body.

What are the key benefits of massage therapy?

Physical -- Massage therapy is designed to stretch and loosen muscles, improve blood flow and the movement of lymph through out body, facilitates the removal of metabolic wastes resulting from exercise or inactivity and increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to cells and tissues.  In addition massage stimulates the release of endorphines-- the body's natural painkiller-- into the brain and nervous system.

Mental -- Massage therapy provides a relative state of alertness, reduces mental stress and enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity.

Emotional -- Massage therapy satisfies the need for caring and nurturing touch, creating a feeling of well-being and reduces anxiety levels.

Who can benefit from massage therapy?

People through out the life cycle -- from very young and very old to those in between--all find that a professional massage to have special applications suited for their needs.

What do research studies say about massage therapy?

Myriad research studies confirm that massage therapy provides physical, mental and emotional benefits at all stages of life.

How is massage therapy regarded by the community?

The results of a survey, conducted between November 2000 and February 2001 in Washington State, indicate strong recognition on the part of medical clinicians that massage therapy is effective.  In Washington, where complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers have been recognized by health plans since 1996, the survey asked medical practitioners five years later what they thought of CAM practices.  Of 12 CAM practices included in the survey, massage therapy ranked highest (74%) in terms of being percieved as alway or usually effective.  The next closest CAM practice in the same category of effectiveness was acupuncture ranked at 67.7% of clinician respondents.

The American Medical Association published a report in September 2000 that said two-thirds of the nation's medical schools teach about herbal therapy, acupuncture, massage or other alternative medicine.

Is massage therapy a luxury?

This is a perception that is rapidly changing as massage becomes increasingly accepted as a natural part of a helthy lifestyle.  In fact, according to one media characterization "massage is to the human body what a tune up is to a car.  It provides a physical boost to the weary, sore and stressed."

An increasing body of clinical research confirms that massage reduces heart rates, lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxes muscles improves range of motion, boosts the immune system, and increases endorphins (all may enhance medical treatment).

What is the average cost of a massage?

Costs depends upon the type of treatment, experience of the practitioner, geographic location and length of the massage.  Nationally, the range is generally from $45 to $80 for an hour-long treatment, with home visits sometimes more expensive.

When might the use of massage therapy inappropriate?

If you suffer from certain circulatory ailments (such as phlebitis), infectious diseases, certain forms of cancer, cardiac problems, certain skin conditions, or any inflamed or infected tissues, be sure to consult your physician before initiating any massage program.  A trained and experienced massage therapist will also be able to tell you when massage is not indicated.

What should consumers expect when they receive a massage for the first time?

At first contact, the massage therapist should ask about your reasons for getting a massage, current physical condition, medical history, lifestyle and stress level and  specific areas of pain.  If necessary undressing takes place in private and a sheet, towel or gown is provided for draping during the massage.  The therapist will undrape only the part of the body being massaged, ensuring that modesty is respected at all times.  The massage takes place on a comfortable paded surface.