By Ronda Del Boccio, NCTMB
Has fibromyalgia robbed you of your energy and vitality? Do achy muscles and pain cramp your style? Would you like to have less stress in your life? If your answer to any or all of these questions is a resounding “YES!”, then you should have massage regularly.
Experts believe that stress accounts for 80-90% of all disease. Even when it is not the direct cause, it aggravates health challenges, making it harder to maintain well-being. People with fibromyalgia tend to be stressed out over-doers. Receiving massage on a regular basis reduces stress and pain, and helps the body function in a more harmonious way.
Massage therapists, or “bodyworkers”, as they are also called, apply a wide variety of techniques to aid the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. They use rubbing, kneading, percussion, and stretching, to name but a few.
Some people believe that a massage is simply pampering that feels wonderful, but there are numerous reasons why having routine massage is a good idea. Fibromyalgia and many chronic conditions, such as arthritis, bursitis, low back pain, diabetes, high blood pressure and fatigue respond well to massage.
The body under stress is in a state of “fight or flight.” In other words, the system reacts as if there were imminent danger. Breathing is shallow, the heart is working overtime, and the repair and restore functions of the body are put on hold. Sleep patterns are disturbed by the pain. Stress and pain are locked in an unending cycle, each making the other worse. Massage is one way to break the vicious circle.
Massage puts the body into a “rest and digest” response that allows it to repair and renew itself, digest food, and absorb nutrients. Breathing becomes deep. Heart rate slows. Pain decreases. Anxiety loses its hold. Health benefits of massage include:
• strengthening the lymph system, which helps the body fend off invaders
• reducing pain from injury, overuse or surgery
• enabling restorative sleep
• relieving muscle cramps, spasms and tension
• increasing circulation and bringing nutrient-rich oxygen to the organs and tissues
• releasing the body’s natural pain-killers, called “endorphins”
• improving range of motion of joints
• providing stretch and exercise for weak or withered muscles
• lowering blood pressure
• and many more
PLEASE NOTE: Therapeutic massage does not treat, heal, prescribe or cure anything. It is complementary healthcare, not a substitute for a Medical Doctor. Some conditions are “red flags” that prohibit massage, including phlebitis, some cancer, infectious disease, and some skin and certain cardiac conditions. Your therapist should take a health history, but it is always best to consult your physician if you have any concerns.
Massage clients with fibromyalgia have found that they sleep better because they have less pain. They lose the mental fuzziness often called “fibro fog” after their session. Some have consulted with their doctors and reduced or eliminated pain medication. Regular sessions make the difference. I have often told clients, “Don’t wait until you feel like a train wreck before you come to see me.” I, like many therapists, offer a discount for those who come regularly; it makes the work more effective for you and easier on both of us.
Touch is highly personal. You should feel comfortable with your practitioner. Don’t be shy about asking questions before you pay for a session. Especially if you have many complications, you will want to be certain your therapist is knowledgeable about your condition. Make sure the work is not too deep or too shallow. Working on tense muscles can be painful, but should not be excruciating. Your therapist is not a mind reader, so it is up to you to tell her or him to lighten up or increase pressure. You know your body better than anyone.
If anything that is said or done makes you feel this isn’t the right person, find someone else. Most therapists will be glad to talk with you and help you decide if their massage is right for you. Many offer special enticements, such as free samples, consistency discounts, and referral incentives. If you find the work beneficial, offering a gratuity is appreciated.
If you want to find a massage therapist, ask friends, family members, or people in places such as your health club, service organization, or church. You can contact one of the following for a referral to a qualified massage therapist in your area:
Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals at 1-800-458-2267 or online at www.abmp.com
National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork at 1-800-296-0664 or www.nctmb.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ronda Del Boccio is a Nationally Certified Therapist of Massage and Bodywork and a holistic health facilitator. She has a private practice near Branson, Missouri. She specializes in working with people who suffer from stress, repetitive use injuries, and chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia. Find her on the web at http://ronda.abmp.com/HelpMeRonda/Main/. Phone contact: 417-527-1098