September 15, 2008

Massage Can Be Therapeutic Answer to Pain


In the past, relaxation was cited as the leading motivator for getting a massage, but increasingly Americans are looking to massage therapy for medical reasons and pain relief.

Statistics from a 2006 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics showed that 1 in 4 adults in this country said they had experienced a daylong bout of pain in the past month, and one in 10 said the pain lasted a full year or more.

According to the report, joint pain, aching or stiffness, low- back pain, migraine and/or severe headache were the most common complaints, and the knee joint caused the most pain.

Luckily, massage therapy has been shown to give considerable relief from many types of pain, and is well known for relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

Many people like the idea of being able to get a relaxing massage in the comfort of their own home, and there are many products on the market designed for that purpose.

I recently had the chance to review one of Panasonic's Real Pro Ultra top of the line massage loungers, Model EP30006, and was very impressed by how well it lived up to its reputation.

The lounger, which fully reclines and has an adjustable attached ottoman, features the "Junetsu" ultrakneading deep tissue massage, and is equipped with an electronic control panel that can be mounted to the side of the chair within easy reach.

At the touch of a button, the user can select one of five preprogrammed massage experiences including the popular styles of Swedish and Shiatsu, or can custom tailor their massage by manually selecting various options, such as targeting one specific area of the body.

Options also exist for choosing the speed, width and the intensity of the massage.

Panasonic's Real Pro Ultra line is the first to be endorsed by the American Chiropractic Association, and combines 200 square inches of back, neck and shoulder massage with 460 inches of air massage distributed throughout the chair.

Along with Shiatsu and Swedish massage styles, the Real Pro Ultra line also offers grasping, kneading, arm stretch and foot reflexology for even greater tension relief.

Another nice feature is that up to 24 individual programs can be stored for up to four people.

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Although when we think of massage, we think of relaxation, it has also been shown to provide a number of health and performance benefits for athletes. The American Massage Therapy Association recommends massage therapy as a way for athletes to find relief from discomfort associated with the physical stress of their training regimens and sports events.

Other benefits include improved focus on the specific muscle groups used in each sports activity, reducing injury risk, improving range of motion and muscle flexibility, and shortening recovery time between workouts.

Research continues to support the use of massage therapy for lower back and shoulder pain and has measured changes in levels of endorphins and serotonin after sports massage, which may reduce pain and contribute to reduced levels of delayed onset muscle soreness.

Massage therapy has also been shown to reduce the need for painkillers by 36 percent when compared to other therapies, including acupuncture and spinal modification.

Although not appropriate for everyone, massage is an accepted part of most physical rehabilitation programs and has been shown to benefit conditions such as arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and bursitis.

The Pressure Pointer is a product uniquely designed to allow you to apply pressure to a very specific affected area, helping to relieve muscle spasms and trigger points, which in turn, promote muscle elasticity and reduce pain.

Until most people experience massage, they typically don't realize how tight and sore their muscles have become. When we are under stress, our muscles tense up, producing an achy feeling, usually felt in the neck and back. Nearly anyone who is chronically stressed, or who regularly pushes their physical limits, can benefit from massage therapy.

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