A professional massage feels good, but what about the potential health benefits? Many therapists believe that massage and body work can be an important part of a total body approach to good health and well-being, and tout its benefits for a wide variety of ailments.
Christian Smith, a massage therapist, founded the Massage School of Los Angeles. He began his training at the Massage School of Santa Monica and continued his studies at the Bodymind Institute and the Upledger Institute, and in the early 1990s, he founded the Radical Therapy Center. Here he offers his beliefs on the healing power of body massage:
- Whole body treatment: Smith sees massage as one of the most efficient ways to stay healthy for life, and claims that it can have positive effects on every system of the body. From the moment that you place your hands on somebody's skin, he claims, a reflex action through the nerves goes to the brain and turns on the relaxation part of the nervous system. It's immediate.
- Stress: When we're getting a massage, according to Smith, our relaxation response is being reflexively turned on from the skin, through the nervous system, and into the center of the brain. This moves us in the direction of relaxation, which eliminates stress and moves us toward health.
- The immune system: Smith believes that the healing touch of massage stimulates the immune system to start fighting off disease. Everywhere you touch a person, he says, the immune system is turned on, and this can lead to greater overall health and resistance to illness.
- Numerous benefits: In addition to these general benefits, Smith believes that massage can greatly help increase the circulation of blood and lymph, increase self-awareness, reduce depression and other mental ailments, heal body tissue and provide defense against cancer. He supports the notion that massage should be a part of everyone's everyday life.