After enduring a stressful fall, I answered the siren call of self-care and treated myself to a 90-minute dynamic, integrative bodywork massage at Metta Integrative Wellness Center in Hampden.
Metta’s founder, Laura Kalman, is a big believer in a holistic approach to massage therapy, tailoring her sessions to clients’ specific needs and requests. In my case, Kalman was faced with months of lingering muscle tension in my upper shoulders and neck area. But she was up for the challenge.
When I arrived for my appointment, I was met with the intoxicating aroma of lavender and soft, calming music. Using Snow Lotus frankincense essential oil, Kalman started with deep-tissue pressure, using her palms and forearms to apply heavy strokes to sensitive areas on my body, including my neck, face, scalp, legs and feet. She then applied trigger-point therapy to my shoulders and lower back through cycles of isolated pressure and release. During the trigger-point therapy, I was asked to actively take deep breaths as well as identify the exact location and intensity of any discomfort, so Kalman could target those areas.
Once she was finished, I instantly noticed reduced muscle tension and I wanted that effect to last. That was possible, Kalman says, provided that I did some things to help reap the benefits of this massage.
First, it’s essential to extend “me” time, she says. Schedule other just-for-you appointments on the same day as a massage. At her center, for example, more than 14 staff members offer holistic and complementary wellness services, including acupuncture, psychotherapy, physical therapy and sound massage.
Another tip is to avoid strenuous activity. Immediately after your massage, take it easy. Forgo exercise in favor of yoga or light stretching, Kalman says. “You need to take the time to enjoy and let your body process what’s happening,” she says. “They say that when tissues start relaxing, there’s a process that they go through after a massage, and it’s usually 24 hours before you should do any physical activity. Just let it happen and don’t interfere with it.”
The benefits of massage therapy are endless, Kalman says. Massages can be used to treat digestive disorders, headaches and insomnia related to stress, she says. Massages can also help with myofascial pain, soft tissue strains or sports injuries.
Even further, massage can serve as a release for people with chronic illnesses. “People who are dealing with a chronic or a terminal illness can still benefit from 60 to 90 minutes of a comfort that has amazing effects on the nervous system.”
Kalman knows how massage can soothe people with anxiety and depression. “I’ve dealt with anxiety, and massage has been the thing that always brings me back to a comfortable place in my body,” Kalman says. “Even for people who have had severe trauma to their bodies, massage is a gentle way to get people OK with being in their bodies. It doesn’t have to be deep tissue. It could be someone putting their hand on your leg for a while. Massage can help with a much larger range of stress issues than people think.”
Kalman added it’s also important to receive massages regularly. “It depends on people’s needs,” she says. “It could be monthly or seasonally. But I don’t think there’s such thing as getting too many massages.”
That’s certainly good news in this New Year.