Emory Report

April 6, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 27

Emory offers massage
therapy for end-of-year stress

Therapeutic massage is one of the oldest of the healing arts. It's been around for at least 5,000 years, and artifacts show the Chinese, Japanese, Greeks, Romans and Egyptians practiced some form of body manipulation to ease pain and prevent or cure illnesses.

In the 19th century Peter Hendrik, a Swede, began to develop what is now the most widely known and studied form of massage in the Western world: Swedish massage. Today there are many more options available, but all have these benefits in common:

  • reduced muscle tension;
  • stimulated or soothed nervous system;
  • enhanced skin condition;
  • improved blood circulation;
  • better digestion and intestinal function;
  • increased mobility of the joints;
  • relief of chronic pain; and
  • reduced swelling and inflammation.

It is no surprise that massage therapy has been rediscovered for its benefits in today's stressed-out world. Today, stress is simply a fact of life. The effects of stress, which have been found to be cumulative, can lead to a number of physical and psychological conditions for which massage has been shown to be an effective palliative.

In addition, stress-on or off the job-contributes to the estimated $200 billion U.S. companies pay each year in reduced productivity, accidents, compensation claims, absenteeism, turnover and other related medical expenses.

A revival of research into the ancient art has begun to unravel the mystery of how massage works. It's thought that massage may slow the body's release of the stress hormone cortisol while at the same time increasing the body's production of serotonin, which can improve mood and boost the immune system.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, finding a legitimate massage therapist could be risky, but things are quite different now. The American Massage Therapy Association can provide a list of qualified therapists; different states have different licensing and registration practices. When inquiring about a therapist's training, look for the initials "CMT," which signify a certified massage therapist, or "LMT," which is licensed massage therapist.

Because of the health benefits of massage, many institutions provide the service on site for their employees as part of a wellness program. The seated massage at the workplace is a new approach to health, relaxation and well-being. Using a portable chair designed for comfort and support, the seated massage can last from five to 30 minutes, uses no oil and takes place with the client fully clothed. The focus of this massage is on the head, neck, shoulders, back, arms and hands. Clients leave feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to return to work.

Here at Emory, there is a massage therapist on hand at the Women's Center. Dana Scharbo, CMT, offers seated massage for a nominal fee on a regular schedule. Scharbo is at the Women's Center before noon on the first and third Tuesday and second and fourth Friday of every month. Call 727-2001 for an appointment or more information. Table massage is also available.

-Ali Crown and Marianne Scharbo-DeHaan

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