Monday, August 13, 2012

Therapeutic Bodywork: A Path to Health

By Joel Curry, MSW, CMT, Pathways to Health

How do I stay healthy? How do I keep from incurring medical bills?  A first step is to begin to take responsibility for one’s own health.  But where do I start?  
For many people the path to health through self-care has taken them to a combination of  endeavors that include nutrition, exercise and relaxation. We will focus on the activity that most of us discount, relaxation.
 The pressures that cause stress have always been with us.  But the opportunity to balance those pressure filled times with periods of deep relaxation  appear to be lessening.  The advent of instant communication through advanced media systems brings a constant barrage of catastrophic happenings to our awareness. Plus, in our fast paced, competitive culture, the last thing many of us feel we can afford to do is relax.  We may attempt to distract ourselves with movies, TV, alcohol, tobacco and other activities that may actually increase stress levels. This makes countering stressful periods  more difficult  and may be contributing to many people developing physical symptoms as a result of chronic stress. 
 Most massage and bodywork methods are focused on bringing the body to a balanced, relaxed condition, with the idea that healing begins in this state  In a  typical massage session, you and the therapist will discuss what you want from the session and this will determine which parts of the body will be the main focus of the work and what methods will be employed.   A trained massage therapist can discern chronically tight parts of the body and employ appropriate strokes and pressure to relieve the tightness. 

 Even methods that may not employ soothing oils, like Bowen Therapy, acupressure or shiatsu can lessen stress levels. Also the therapist may use movement and stretches and suggest activities at home such as breath focused progressive relaxation exercises to further create a balance in the body. 

So how do I stay healthy?  I need to continue on the path to taking responsibility for my own health through self-care, and to keep experimenting with the nutrition, exercise, and stress relief approaches that are right for me.

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