Self-Care, Not Self-Indulgence
As a reader of this blog, you may have come to know that this digital space is the creative canvas for most all things Eureka Springs, Arkansas. To narrow down the wide array of things to focus on, www.iloveureka.com has set-out to tap into the following five core values of this blog. Sometimes the blog-posts here will touch on two or three of these core values. Other times it is more, and sometimes it is less. This particular blog-post comes to you within the core value of Living Well.
The other core values that are written about here, and related to our Eureka Springs, include: Cultivating Community, Making Memories, Curating Culture, and Spreading Joy and Love.
There are so many ways in which we can take care of ourselves. Over the last four years, blog-posts withing the category of Living Well have been published around diet, exercise, mental wellness and more: (here are a few links to these posts.)
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
SPRING INTO KETOSIS
KETO - HOW TO GET STARTED
Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise are the most common aspects of self-care that we all understand and accept. However, many people raised in the culture of Western medicine still consider massage therapy to be an indulgence and, in overlooking its therapeutic benefits, deprive themselves of an extraordinarily effective avenue for healing.
About 3 weeks ago, I was packing up our pick-up truck with the usual gear for a lovely day on Beaver Lake when I felt something pull in my lower back. The searing pain that followed was unbearable and further, the debilitating seize that happened as the muscles reacted to how I just chose to use them, was a first for me. I felt a helpless. Stuck.
It didn't take long for me to get a massage. I have always seen massage as beneficial and in this particular case, it was the most healing remedy for this unexpected injury and it worked wonders on my condition. So much so, I was back in the gym making faces and squatting my usual 300+lbs. not long after, as if nothing had even happened.
When is massage especially helpful?
There are many circumstances in which massage is beneficial. In my case, it was in response to injury but it can be most helpful when we are under stress (either personal or work-related.)
As a 20+ year Human Resources professional, I recall a time when I worked at the Corporate Headquarters of Holland America Line. Working at the Corporate Headquarters of a Global Cruise Travel Company was invigorating but also stressful. Everything that every one of my colleagues supported was or was on board a constantly moving target around our Globe. Everyone from Marketing, Sales, Finance, Operations, you name it, EVERYONE carried some sort of stress with logistically managing a fleet of moving vessels that only sporadically stopped for a port here and a port there.
HR knew this. HR also knew that massage therapy has been known to help clear those feelings of stress for it has a very grounding effect. People who have been sick find massage helpful in pushing through the last phase of their illness. During recovery from orthopedic injuries such as sprains, strains, and healing bones, massage can ease soreness and help restore range of motion. After a tough day at the office, a massage can be an oasis. This was why an allotted number of massage therapy sessions were "built into" the design of our Corporate Benefits package. This was when I first learned that massage therapy is not an indulgence for me, or a luxury. From that point forward, I viewed it as an effective healing treatment that can have a resounding impact.
People suffering with chronic illnesses, from fibromyalgia to cancer, often turn to massage for comforting touch and peace of mind. Victims of abuse or sexual assault seek out skilled massage therapists to help overcome their lack of trust and fears around being touched.
I could go on, as there are many more examples that could illustrate my point, but at this point, I think you get the picture.
What if I’m under a doctor’s care?
Massage therapists often work in consultation with physicians to ease retracted tissue in patients with back injuries and herniated disks. As patients transition out of clinical physical therapy, massage therapists will collaborate with physical therapists to continue the healing process through different types of bodywork. They also collaborate with area orthopedists, sports medicine physicians, and other medical professionals.
In the complex, professional world of athletics, trainers help athletes become more flexible and improve their ability to ward off potential injuries. All professional athletic teams provide regular bodywork for their athletes. (Note: this was not the case twenty years ago but today the value of massage therapy for athletes is undisputed.)
What happens to the body during a massage?
Bodywork can trigger a number of physiological responses that enhance healing. These responses vary depending on the type of bodywork you’re having. Generally speaking, massage enhances blood circulation, increases the flow of oxygen to the tissues and organs, releases toxins, loosens and elongates tight muscles, and slows the heart rate, all of which serve to reduce stress and increase energy flow, or chi, in the body. The overall effect for most people is a state of relaxation and an enhanced sense of well-being.
When I recently had my massage to heal my seized back, I got off the table when it was finished, stood in the room and it noticeably felt like I was now 6 feet tall. (I'm actually 5'7".) This experience somehow made me feel like my torso and spine had been stretched and worked so effectively, that I stood taller and without pain or discomfort.
How will I know which type of bodywork is right for me?
When an experienced, licensed therapist meets a client for the first time, they usually determine (in collaboration with the client, of course) which modalities are best for that person based on the client’s needs and goals. For example, if you are looking for a deeply relaxing experience to reduce stress and release toxins from your body, you might opt for a Swedish massage or a hot rock massage. If you suffer from myofascial pain, fibromyalgia, or limited range of motion, you might benefit from neuromuscular work with trigger-point massage. If you are an athlete seeking peak performance, a sports massage can help to recover from overexertion and to condition the muscles further to avoid injury.
My massage modality was called - Shiatsu.
Shiatsu is a form of Eastern acupressure that addresses the meridians in the body, relaxes muscles, increases energy flow, and is also quite helpful if you are suffering from stress and fatigue.
Acupressure is an alternative medicine technique often used in conjunction with acupuncture or reflexology. It is based on the concept of life energy which flows through the meridians. My therapist had me lay face down on the table, which I did for the entire hour, and he worked with his magical hands, elbows and arms from the base of my neck, down to the back of my legs (just behind my knees.) It was EXACTLY the kind of treatment needed to heal a seized-up lower back - and it worked!
Thai bodywork concentrates on stretching tight muscles and reflexology applies gentle pressure to the hands and feet to help balance internal body systems; craniosacral and polarity therapy help to re-balance the body’s energy fields. There are many approaches to healing bodywork that address a range of both acute and chronic problems. Having so many modalities to choose from is beneficial because different approaches will work for different people and different conditions.
You're Here - Go For It!
Whether it’s a simple indulgence or a revitalizing treatment after a long day of sightseeing, Eureka Springs can more than fulfill your massage and spa treatment desires. A dozen facilities are situated in and around downtown, and you can also enjoy the spas inside our historic hotels.
People first flocked to our area in the late 1800s, drawn to the healing powers of more than 60 natural springs. Today, the city’s spa and massage culture continues that legacy. Take time for YOU while you're here. Relax, rejuvenate and renew.
Massage is not about indulgence; it is about taking care of yourself. Relaxation enhances healing, both physically and emotionally. A list of places to go can be found here: https://www.eurekasprings.org/attractions/spas-massage/
Take time to settle into your body, to breathe deeply, and to lower your level of stress.
Take time for YOU!
After all, this is Eureka! You Found it!