Massage therapy is discussed here as part of a protocol for nourishing and maintaining the human body as it goes through the later years of aging.
Over years and decades, your body will do amazing feats for you, as it transports you through your experiences. Your physical body experiences wear and tear over time, and also – importantly, a change or decrease in the hydration of your connective tissue, called fascia, is a natural part of the aging process in later years. This process in the connective tissue may decrease flexibility and fluidity in the body over time. In regard to structural issues in the aging body, muscle and joint stiffness, fatigue, general lack of mobility or feelings of stiffness and tension, and osteoarthritis, may develop slowly through years and decades in some people, as old injuries, and chronic situations build up.
To prevent and alleviate discomfort, and to maintain mobility, it’s helpful to use your body through movement and exercise, which promotes hydration and blood flow to your connective tissue. In addition, massage therapy to promote mobility, hydration, increased blood and energy flow, movement, and increased body awareness, can be a nourishing addition for the body during this phase.
Massage has been around as long as we humans have, and truly is something we all do. When we stub our toe or our child hurts themselves, self massage is a reflex. The first thing we do is rub and compress the affected area. We do this naturally because it feels good, and it helps the process of healing to begin. Massage therapy has a long list of benefits directed toward circumstances around aging bodies in particular that include:
- easing tired muscles and reducing stiffness and pain caused by arthritis
- lowering stress levels
- decreasing blood pressure
- increasing mobility and flexibility
- increasing circulation which increases oxygen to the brain to the heart and to the soft tissues.
In addition to structural benefits, studies also show that having had a 50 minute therapeutic massage twice weekly for 4 weeks, people over 60 have reduced levels of anxiety and depression and have an increased sense of wellbeing. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety in patients with demetia.
Your body has seen you through, where ever you find yourself in your life right now. As years and decades pass, it’s helpful to remember that your body has worked hard, and served you well, moving you through your experiences. It follows that a self care program can feel much deserved for your body in later years. A strategy intended to prolong fluidity and ease can help make later years a beautiful, easeful, and empowering phase of life, the way it truly is meant to be experienced. There are infinite combinations of self care rituals and healthcare modalities that can be used to keep the body revitalized and flowing. Massage therapy as discussed here is one of them.
Suzanne Crawford, Vancouver RMT at Broadway Wellness has taken an interest in working with people during later years of life in her massage therapy practice. Suzanne has been practicing as an RMT for 30 years, and the wisdom coming through her hands and her work reflect this. Suzanne has been running for the past ten years and has completed several half marathons, as well as the Vancouver Marathon in 2008.
Also, we would love to hear from you: have you found massage therapy to benefit you as you age, and what else have you noted to be helpful? This article is coming from the perspective of massage therapy in particular, other avenues to explore are vast. We’d love to hear more.