Massage for men
Reduce stress, prevent injury, boost work performance
Times have changed, but men are often still the main provider for their families and may have high-stress or physically demanding jobs. A sentiment also lingers that men should be tough enough to deal with these demands without complaint.
However, men are bucking those preconceptions and doing more for themselves to stay healthy and avoid burnout. Many are turning to massage to reduce stress levels and enjoy an enhanced feeling of well-being.
What massage can do for men
Reduce effects of stress. The Touch Research Institute (TRI) of the Miami University School of Medicine has completed dozens of studies on the benefits of touch. One study showed biweekly massage reduced stress hormones and blood pressure in hypertensive adults. The participants also experienced less depression and hostility.
Heal or prevent on-the-job and sports injuries. Repetitive stress injuries are a problem for millions. The most common causes are enthusiastic participation in sports or jobs that require constant repetitive activity such as lifting or carrying, operating machinery, or keyboarding. These repetitive activities can result in muscle imbalances, for example one shoulder being much stronger and tighter than the other — a situation that leaves a person vulnerable to injury when these muscle groups are stressed.
For both on-the-job and athletic injuries, massage can reduce pain and help tissues heal by reducing swelling, and increasing healing blood flow to the area. It can also relieve contracted muscles to help rebalance chronically overworked muscle groups and improve range of motion, making it easier to handle the demands of work or sport.
Perform better at work. Both table and chair massage offer a respite from stress and a boost to circulation, leaving body and mind relaxed and refreshed. Back on the job, a clear and balanced mind can produce better and faster work.
Relax and increase self-awareness. Chronically tense muscles can dull the awareness of pain and give the sense of being strong enough to “take it.” But constant tension also blocks the flow of energy in the body and can restrict muscle function, which can lead to pain or even injury. Tense muscles can actually be a warning that your body — and perhaps your lifestyle — needs attention. Massage is one of the best ways to relieve tension, prevent pain and tune into the state of your body and mind. v
Doctor prescribes stress breaks for executives
Dr. Pamela Peeke, a professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, treats a number of Fortune 500 executives. Speaking of her clients’ need to reduce stress, she said, “It’s mental aerobics. Top athletes do stuff like this for their bodies; the highest execs need to do it for their minds.”
Her prescription to prevent the consequences of stress? Breaks every hour for stretches and deep breathing. Short naps during the day (every day). And a 10-day vacation three times a year (no excuses).
Whether or not you’re an executive, you may be a decision-maker, responsible for people or operations. Taking time to relax regularly can keep you in top condition for the ongoing demands of your work.
Too busy? Don’t know where to start?
Brief massage and other treatments to meet your needs
Perhaps you would like to try massage, but just can’t find time or don’t know where to begin. Here’s some ideas on ways to make massage work for you.
The chair massage option
What if you just don’t have time to accomplish all you would like to?
In almost every community today, a short, stress-relieving and rejuvenating chair massage is often just blocks away. Chair massage is brief, normally lasting only 10 to 20 minutes, and costing a fraction of a table massage. It’s applied directly through the clothing, so no time is lost while you undress. It may even be available at your place of work. And chair massage may surprise you. It reduces stress effectively and efficiently, and can also quickly boost your energy and mental clarity.
For aches and pains
Do you have nagging pain in specific areas? Frequent headaches? An old injury that still bothers you? Try a bodywork technique considered especially effective for reducing aches and pains. Swedish massage, trigger point therapy, myofascial release and a number of specific injury treatment techniques are some to ask about.
No need to undress
Acupressure, Shiatsu and Thai massage may be good choices if you are seeking deeper pressure and a firm stretch to joints and muscles — without the need to remove any clothing. Reflexology, which many people swear by to decrease stress, can also be received fully clothed. Reflexology increases vitality from applied pressure to specific points in the feet and hands.
Still have questions? Talk to your massage practitioner for help choosing an approach that works for you. v
They didn’t fall asleep, as expected, but became more alert, as though on a runner’s high.
—Tiffany Field, Director of the Touch Research Institute
(describing people following a 15-minute afternoon chair massage)