I always knew massage was good for me. I'm a bit of a massage adventurer. If I go someplace and see a new type of massage, I sign right up. I've had Thai massage, Reiki, craniosacral, four hands (sweet!), hot stone, deep tissue, Swedish, chakra, shiatsu, myofacial, yogassage, and other types I can't remember at the moment. What's not to love about a strange man or woman rubbing your whole body with warm oil?! Or even better, TWO strange people rubbing your whole body with warm oil at the SAME TIME? Partly, I do it because I am curious and because I feel like I need to understand the latest and greatest in health and healing--and massage is right up there for me. But mainly, I do it because I can FEEL the benefits. I feel looser, more relaxed, happier, and healthier after a massage.
Well, scientists are finally getting around to studying this thousands-of-years-old practice, and surprise, surprise, there are health, as well as hedonistic, reasons people keep doing it. A new study by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California (you can bet Mr. David Geffen has had his share of massages!) found that a single dose of Swedish message therapy produces "measurable biological effects" that can improve immunity and inflammation.
I am so glad to hear this because it justifies my best and most-looked-forward-to reward every month (not that I need justification). I finally found a massage therapist who will come to my house once a month and give me an awesome, healthful, relaxing treat. For less than the price of a decent pair of shoes (and a fraction of the cost of a pair of Manolo Blahniks), she arrives at the end of each month around 8 p.m. and leaves an hour and a half later as I glide blissfully up to bed.
What's great about having the same person give me massages regularly is that she can tell month by month if things are getting better or worse (they almost always get better). That tight spot on my back has finally melted. My tight feet are still tight, but my toe issue has resolved. And my neck...well, my neck is always tight. But it's a heck of a lot looser after she's done with it. Before she leaves, we mark the next month's date so there are no stresses about needing to schedule. And even better, because she comes to my house, I can either pick my own music or just have silence. It's my favorite way I spend money every month.
And I also feel good spending that money because Laurie Reinhart is such an amazing woman. By day she's a chiropractor. And she's also one of those ultra-marathoners who will run 150 miles straight...in the woods. She's got strong hands that dig deeply into my muscles and a serene presence that just makes me feel good when I see her. I know that my luxury is part of her daily bread and supports her and her daughter, and that's important for both of our health.
If you live in my area, you can find her here: coopersburgchiropractor.com.
But I highly encourage all of you, if you can afford it, to find a massage therapist in your area, who you can count on to make you healthier and happier on a regular basis!
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.