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The Lazy Way to Better Health in 2017: Let Someone Else Do the Work

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In 2011, NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” introduced us to Treat Yo Self Day. It’s not a birthday or Christmas, but a day of the year when you splurge on yourself. In the words of Tom and Donna, “Clothes? Treat yoself. Fragrances? Treat yoself. Massages? Treat yoself. Mimosas? Treat yoself.”

There’s one thing in that sequence I want to draw attention to: massages.

Each year, we learn more and more about how massage therapy can be beneficial. So far studies have shown it helps with a variety of conditions from fibromyalgia to insomnia. In 2012, Dr. Josephine Briggs, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH told the Washington Post, “We have enough data to say the evidence is there that this really does help with back pain in particular.” Four years later, she says this still holds true.

In the last month of 2016 alone, dozens of new studies related to massage appeared on PubMed, a government website that archives research from peer-reviewed biomedical and life sciences journals. Among those was a study that concluded that massage can contribute to the well-being and health of elderly adults in residential care.

Other research from the year found that 15-25 minute scalp massages can reduce the stress hormone cortisol and improve blood pressure. And while there’s already evidence that massage can help with cancer-related fatigue, new research published in December pinpointed the benefits of massage in the neck and shoulder region for breast cancer patients.

For those of us in the Rogue Valley (aka land of little sunshine in winter) what may be most applicable is that massage can help with depression symptoms, as a 2010 meta-analysis in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry showed. Bye bye seasonal depression.

I’m no expert, but it sounds like the research gods are saying “you, go get a massage.” I mean, it’s the laziest way to better health in 2017. You just pay a lady (or man), and then lay there while they do all the work.

Here’s a trick, some people don’t know about, either. Some insurance companies will offer a discount if you use a massage therapist from their network. Some insurance companies will cover massage therapy as a treatment for certain conditions if it’s recommended by a doctor. In a car accident? Car insurance may cover massage. Those who are curious or think that massage could help with their conditions should contact their insurance companies to find out if massage if covered and if so, what the conditions of receiving treatment are.

There’s one more way to get cheap or free massages. Some employers offer what’s called “alternative care insurance.” In 2015 my employer offered one of these plans and it was heaven. The deal worked like this: I showed up with some basic information from my employer at an approved provider and then for the price of $20 I received an hour-long neuromuscular massage, no questions asked. There was a limit on the number of times per year I could go, but I never hit it. That price was a heck of a deal, too. In the Rogue Valley I’ve seen rates as low as $60 per hour and as high as $105.

That isn’t to say the full price tag isn’t worth it. After all, everyone deserves a Treat Yoself Day.

I’ll leave you with this thought from Philip Whitmore, director of Siskiyou Massage Center in Ashland: “Take care of yourself this coming year. You deserve an hour break from your life activity to recover, heal, relax.”



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