Pampering or Therapy?

Massage Therapy Graphic

I’ve always thought of massages as a special treat or a perk. I force myself to set milestones before allowing myself to take off for an hour or two of pampering at the salon. More recently I’ve justified these rare excursions because of their contribution to destressing the mind and body – things us Frosties need to do on a regular basis, right? So imagine my surprise when I received an email from Elizabeth Arden, reinforced by an article about the same time in the Wall Street Journal, promoting the benefits of massage therapy in boosting the immune system! Here’s the statement from Elizabeth Arden:

…By releasing endorphins and increasing circulation, massage can relieve pain and help reduce problematic symptoms including…Disease: Increases circulation allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients to vital organs and tissue. Toxic intruders in the body are fought off more vigorously due to the arousal of the body’s natural defense system.”

Research shows that a 45-minute session can lead to a small reduction in the level of cortisol, a stress hormone in the blood, and a boost in white blood cells that fight infection. Studies have similarly documented immune benefits for women suffering from breast cancer, reduced symptoms for sufferers of asthma and osteoarthritis, and improved grip strength in patients with carpal tunnel syndrome. Results have been so promising that scientific interest is really picking up. A unit of the National Institutes of Health is devoting $2.7 million on massage research this year. This increased research attention is due in part because of the growth of the practice.  The American Massage Therapy Association estimates it to be a $10 million dollar industry or more.

While insurance companies only provide limited coverage (coverage is, however, required in Washington state!), check with your employer to see if they’ve purchased coverage for alternative therapies as an add-on, or if your insurance plan offers discounts through an affiliate network of practitioners.  This is one therapy we can all enjoy!