Therapeutic massage is helpful for many things. Studies have found that massage helped premature infants gain weight and that their hospital stay was shortened. Depressed children and anorexic women are also helped by massage because it helps to reduce anxiety. Adults who are plagued by withdrawal symptoms from trying to quit smoking, find massage beneficial in relieving those symptoms and also relieving anxiety. Fibromyalgia sufferers find that massage helps to decrease their pain as do migraine sufferers. Some people get relief from pain after recent surgeries through massage. Athletes with muscle soreness are also helped by massage. Studies done with people who had breast cancer and HIV showed that massage helped to boost their immune system. Diabetic children showed favorable results when their parents gave them daily massages and it reinforced their medications and diet regimens.
Keeping mobile If you have arthritis, your doctor may want you to exercise to keep your joints mobile. For years doctors have only prescribed flexibility training for these patients, but recently started recommending strength and cardiovascular training as well. After your doctor gives you the go ahead, start slowly and progress as your condition allows. Experts agree that each exercise session should begin and end with flexibility and range of motion exercises. Never stretch to the point of pain. Flexibility exercises should be done on a daily basis while strength training should be done two to three times a week and never two days in a row. Cardiovascular exercise can be done three to five times per week.
Chronic Fatigue Some researchers believe that people who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) will benefit from exercise. Some doctors even view exercise as medicine for their CFS patients. These people benefit from the same forms of exercise that those without CFS do, but have to learn to pace themselves. The degree of progression may not be as fast for CFS sufferers as for those not afflicted.
Ice it up Remember these rules for applying ice to an injury. Apply the ice for no more than 10 to 20 minutes. Always cover the ice or ice bag with a thin towel to prevent frost bite. Depending upon the severity of the injury, ice should be applied for a minimum of two to four times a day and for the maximum, hourly. Gentle massage of the area with ice can also be very beneficial. Between ice applications, it is often recommended that you use a compression wrap with elevation.
Bulging or herniated? There is a difference between a bulging disk and a herniated disk. According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, a "bulging disk occurs when a ligament stretches and allows a disk to protrude into the spinal canal. Bulging disks are common and often painless." Herniated disks are painful and may require rest, pain medication, therapy or surgery. They explain that a herniated disk occurs with "a marked bulging of the disk into the spinal canal and pieces of the disk breaking off and entering the spinal canal." Be smarter Finally, researchers claim that exercise sharpens judgment. They claim that "brisk walks to improve cardiovascular fitness help aging adults sharpen their mental focus and decision making abilities."
Good news for us all! Jann Brewer and her husband, Bert, are co-owners of the Marco Fitness Club. They are both ACE and AIFE certified personal trainers. Jann invites your questions and comments below. ©Marco Island Sun Times 2004