Physical Benefits of Therapeutic Massage

Leg Massage

  1. Helps relieve stress and aids relaxation
  2. Helps relieve muscle tension and stiffness
  3. Alleviates discomfort during pregnancy
  4. Fosters faster healing of strained muscles and sprained ligaments; reduces pain and swelling; reduces formation of excessive scar tissue
  5. Reduces muscle spasms
  6. Provides greater joint flexibility and range of motion
  7. Enhances athletic performance; treats injuries caused during sport or work
  8. Promotes deeper and easier breathing
  9. Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymph fluids
  10. Reduces blood pressure
  11. Helps relieve tension-related headaches and effects of eye-strain
  12. Enhances the health and nourishment of skin
  13. Improves posture
  14. Strengthens the immune system
  15. Treats musculoskeletal problems
  16. Rehabilitation post operative
  17. Rehabilitation after injury

Mental Benefits of Massage Therapy

  1. Fosters peace of mind
  2. Promotes a relaxed state of mental alertness
  3. Helps relieve mental stress
  4. Improves ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately
  5. Enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity
  6. Emotional Benefits
  7. Satisfies needs for caring nurturing touch
  8. Fosters a feeling of well-being
  9. Reduces levels of anxiety
  10. Creates body awareness
  11. Increases awareness of mind-body connection

(Source: AMTA)

Benefits Of Massage And Attentive Touch In Hospice Care

Therapeutic massage is well known for its ability to relieve pain, improve circulation and induce a relaxation response. Other benefits of massage, applicable to hospice clients, as well as to the general population, include:

  • Softening contracted or tight muscles;
  • Promoting faster healing from injury/trauma;
  • Reducing joint stiffness;
  • Reducing anxiety;
  • Improving circulation, which can ease breathing, induce more restful sleep, help improve digestion and elimination, and temporarily improve mental clarity.

In today’s world, the variety of medications available, coupled with our medical technology, has all but erased the simple human touch that was present in ancient civilizations as a means of relieving discomfort. Often a primary concern for hospice clients is pain control. “Massage is an excellent nonpharmacological modality for reducing or alleviating pain, and thus reducing the need for narcotic painkillers.” (AMTA)

Massage is already accepted as a way to assist in coping with conditions that have a stress component. Being diagnosed with a terminal illness is certainly a stressful event. Incorporating massage into the plan of care will likely reduce the need for narcotics or other anxiety reducing medications, thus eliminating the side effects associated with these as well.

In those who are immobile or bed-ridden, massage can be helpful in preventing pressure sores. Likewise, this population may experience dry or itchy skin, and would benefit from a moisturizing massage lotion. Often, the client feels a nurturing, calming and soothing effect from the lotion as well.

For the hospice client, caring, compassionate touch in the form of massage may have benefits more significant and more immediately noticeable than the physical benefits. Dealing with a life-threatening illness can trigger a variety of thoughts and feelings, which may include:

  • Anger about the diagnosis/limitations imposed by the disease, and effects of treatment;
  • Anxiety about pain, finances and how family members will cope;
  • Denial about the diagnosis or progression of the disease;
  • Fear about what will happen next and about death itself;
  • Guilt over how the situation is affecting loved ones;
  • Mood swings caused by the situation itself, drug or other therapies, or disease-related dementia;
  • Depression and hopelessness.

(Am. Massage Therapy Assn)

Providing a caring, gentle touch, assures the client that he/she is not alone. It provides an opportunity for self expression, fostering feelings of self-acceptance along with improved self-esteem. The typical feelings of isolation and loneliness are somewhat lessened. A simple, gentle touch provided in the right moment, conveys comfort and support to the client.

In the hospice setting, massage techniques are slower and gentler, with a goal of relaxing and calming the client. Active listening and acknowledgement become as important as the ‘massage’ itself.

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