Monthly Massage Membership

People whose professions require them to sit for long hours at a time often suffer from back and neck pain. For myself, long days of sitting in my office chair have left me with significant upper back and neck pain and stiffness for years. I always chalked it up to a necessary evil of my profession, but recently have been taking steps to try to improve my condition in the interest of self-care. In an effort to avoid taking pain medication, I explored my options for alternative treatments.

Here is some info I found when researching my options for massage therapy:

Many types of massage offer benefits beyond simple relaxation. Here are just a few of the health problems that may benefit from massage. Ask your doctor before using massage for any health condition, though.
  • Back pain-More than one study has shown the effectiveness of massage therapy for back pain. In fact, one 2003 study showed it worked better than acupuncture or spinal modification for persistent low back pain -- reducing the need for painkillers by 36%.
  • Headache-Headache also responds to massage therapy, as shown by more than one study. Massage therapy can reduce the number of migraines a person has and also improve sleep.
  • Osteoarthritis-In the first clinical trial looking at the effectiveness of Swedish massage for knee osteoarthritis, participants who received a one-hour massage either one or two times a week had improvements in pain, stiffness, and function. The control group had no such change.
  • Cancer-Used as a complement to traditional, Western medicine, massage can promote relaxation and reduce cancer symptoms or side effects of treatment. It may help reduce pain, swelling, fatigue, nausea, or depression, for example, or improve the function of your immune system.
  • Anxiety-A review of more than 12 studies shows that massage helps relieve depression and anxiety. It lowered levels of cortisol by up to 50%. And massage increased levels of neurotransmitters that help reduce depression
One of the approaches I decided on using was monthly massage. I always thought of massage as more of a fluffy, feel good treatment rather than a therapeutic tool. Dharma Healing Center offers a monthly membership program for $63 a month. I found this to be a reasonable price and also, Dharma is located in my office building so it was also convenient for me. I chose localized deep tissue massage as my treatment approach, hoping that it would address my chronic neck and back pain.

Dharma's new office is nicely decorated and the staff are warm and engaging. I have seen a few different therapists over the past few months and all the treatments have been excellent. Unfortunately, I have not found the overall results to be helpful in my situation. While the treatment is helpful in the immediate hours after, I find myself in pain again the next day. Of course, I also find myself back in my chair in the days after. Correlation? Absolutely. The culprit? My chair!!!

My new focus is addressing the real root of my problems, which I believe is my office chair and it's position in my room. My plan is to do some research on ergonomics and find the best chair recommended for people in my profession. I am also going to be seeking physical therapy, hoping to find some helpful exercises to prevent the pain from occurring in the first place. I've also ordered a yoga DVD for neck and back. I hope that some stretches and exercises will help re-align my back and muscles and together with my new chair, the problem may be solved!!

CONCLUSION: Massage is still a nice, soothing treatment to deal with muscular issues, however, in my circumstance, the actual causes of my issues are what need to be addressed to truly solve the problem. I will be posting again about the specific changes I have made and their results....hopefully good ones! I have some leads on ergonomic chairs and am scheduled to begin physical therapy this week. Looking forward to feeling pain-free:)
Marisa Etting