Touch is healing. We recognize and respond to a pat on the back, holding hands or a hug. Massage takes it the notion of touch as healing farther. And it can be especially beneficial to those who live alone or to someone who longs for a few minutes alone.
“Massage therapy is not a luxury anymore,” said Q Root, clinic administrator for Massage Envy in Flagstaff. “It’s accessible and affordable for overall health, yet 80 percent of the population has never had a massage.” Root, also a massage therapist, insists touch brings awareness to pain that is hiding in the body. “Reducing stress stimulates brain chemicals—anti-anxiety and anti-depressants—to focus on healing. One hour of massage equals eight hours of sleep.” Beyond stress relief and relaxation, massage raises endorphin levels, improves blood flow and extends the range of motion.
Many ailments caused by stress weaken the immune system, inviting illness, but massage can reverse those effects. Everything from a tension headache to heart disease can benefit from relaxing muscles and increasing circulation.
With ongoing training in the field, therapists are routinely adding new skills and knowledge to better serve their customers. “Therapists supply clients with a treatment plan to match a therapy to medications, frequency and physical changes,” Root said. “Then, they suggest ways to extend the results in between, like with stretching or lifestyle changes.”
As Massage Envy celebrates its third anniversary in Flagstaff this month, it also welcomes a change in clientele. Men now make up forty percent of what has often been seen as a women’s spa. And those that make it a regular trip find one hour’s massage becomes a more powerful ally. It becomes an investment in health.
Swedish Massage is the most common and well-known for dispelling life’s pressures. Muscles are rubbed with long, gliding strokes in the direction of the blood as it returns to the heart. This increases oxygen and flexibility while decreasing toxins and tension.
Hot Stone Massage melts away the day. Smooth, water-heated stones are placed at key points on the body for deeper muscle relaxation and is followed by a customized massage. This combination softens stress and stiffness while revving up circulation and metabolism.
Cranial Sacral Massage is a gentle, non-invasive alternative therapy that moves fluid around the skull and spine, easing restrictions on the nerve passageways as it soothes the membrane encasing the central nervous system. It restores misalignment and can even ease a migraine,
Heather Bostian, M.F.A. Licensed Massage Therapist and owner of Holistic Bodywork Design, advocates Cranial Sacral Massage for relief of many traumas and impairments. Her massage sessions are highly individualized, and generally begin the same way—from the abdomen. “I often diagnose a rock in the belly, impeding circulation from the heart to the legs and feet. When blood flow is returned, the body begins singing. Vibrant senses also return—sight, smell, sound and touch. As pain slips away, mental health is renewed.”
Bostian channels the essence of energy as a healing force, but her relationship prompts teamwork. “I am not a fluff and buff therapist; my clients have homework,” she said. Nutrition counseling compliments her efforts, as she believes self-education is as important as self-reflection, or as Bostian elaborated, “searching through mental and emotional storms for misdirected energy. I dis-member you, so you can re-member who you are.”
She finds men are more resistant, but said, “They respond like a puppy when releasing the issues in their tissues.” Bostian sees people’s power to heal themselves like ripples in a pond that affect other lives in their midst. With 30 years of practical experience and continuing education, Bostian utilizes a blend of techniques such as somatic therapy, a holistic treatment that takes a busy mind from its worries and focuses on the moment. Or she may employ lomi lomi Hawaiian massage, which mimics the motion of the ocean to relax a client.
“Our bodies are designed so perfectly, people just need to get back in touch with their intuitive choices for what is right,” Bostian said. And that involves devoting regular sessions to yield and to heal. NAMLM
Gail G. Collins