Navigating the Path to Wellness with Massage Therapy

The following are excerpts from an article by Donna Shryer which appeared in Massage Therapy Journal dated August 22, 2017.

(My comments are in parentheses.)

Consider this: 20 years ago, massage for cancer patients was categorically judged unwise for fear that it accelerated the spread of the cancer. However, recent studies reverse this opinion, highlighting specific instances where massage is both indicated and highly beneficial for cancer patients. Similarly, researchers now feel that patients with any of the following five chronic medical conditions—or pathologies—can benefit from massage therapy.


The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic disease of the joints that affects more than 30 million Americans. Most people over age 60 have OA to some degree, which occurs as the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down. Bones most often affected are in the hands, spine, and knee and hip joints, with symptoms including pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased range of motion. (**Study results showed that massage therapy enabled significant improvements in pain, function and stiffness.)

Type 2 Diabetes 

Affecting 29.1 million Americans, Type 2 diabetes (T2D) accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diabetes cases diagnosed. A common T2D complication is peripheral neuropathy, which is nerve damage caused by chronically high blood sugar. Symptoms include numbness; loss of sensation; pain in the feet, legs or hands; and, specific to diabetic peripheral neuropathy in the feet, impaired balance. (**Study results showed improvement in balance, foot sensation and mobility.)

**In a study presented at the 2016 Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium, massage was shown to greatly decrease CIPN (chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy) -associated symptoms, increase skin temperature in fingers and toes, and generally improve quality of life in persons affected by chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia 

Dementia is a group of signs and symptoms, an umbrella term that covers multiple progressive neurodegenerative diseases with similar clinical profiles. Alzheimer’s is under that umbrella. Here’s a brief list of dementia symptoms that apply to Alzheimer’s:

  • Trouble focusing
  • Difficulty performing ordinary activities
  • Feeling confused or frustrated, especially at night
  • Dramatic mood swings—outbursts of anger, anxiety and depression
  • Feeling disoriented and getting lost easily
  • Physical problems, such as an odd walk or poor coordination
  • Trouble communicating

(**Several small studies showed decreased aggressiveness, improved relaxation and decreased stress levels.)


Cancer defies a simple, singular definition due to hugely positive advancements in the study and treatment of tumors. However, the disease as a category continues to bring with it some degree of pain, anxiety and depression. In these areas, numerous research reviews and clinical studies suggest that at least for the short term, massage therapy can help reduce discomfort, promote relaxation and boost mood.

Mood Disorders 

Mood disorders, as defined by Salvo, “are emotional disturbances consisting of prolonged periods of excessive sadness or excessive elation, or both, that significantly impair the person’s capacity to function.”

What is clear is that studies large and small have shown that massage therapy can help soothe stand-alone and symptomatic mood disorders. “Research suggests and clients report that massage therapy can reduce pain and improve quality of life,” Salvo says. In addition, Salvo writes in her textbook Mosby’s Pathology for Massage Therapists / Edition 3, “Although massage does not eliminate stress, it often helps us cope with it better and alleviates some symptoms.”

Feel Better, Stay Well. Body Dialog Massage.

Feel Better About Aging

Help yourself get back on your feet with massage and smooth your way through the aging process.

Getting old is…
We often hear ‘Getting old is not for sissies’ and while I’m sure that’s true, regular massage therapy can help you put a positive spin on your aging process.

None of us really want to get old. It’s hard! For those of us who are lucky enough to be growing old, we need to remember that this is a privilege denied to many.

More and more we discover that our minds and bodies simply cannot do what they always did but we are also finding more ways to help ourselves combat the obvious effects of aging and feel better about ourselves.

Staying well as we age
If you read my blog regularly then you already know that I am a proponent of simple solutions to health and wellbeing. These include eating moderately and consciously whenever you can, drinking plenty (more than or two glasses per day) of pure water (click here for more information about hydration)  exercising regularly in whatever way your body will allow and steering clear of nasty people (you will know them if your stomach tightens, your jaw clenches, your head aches or you feel diminished at the mention of their name).

Add to that list getting regular massages! Of course being a massage therapist for the last 28 years, I tend to look at the world through the lens of massage but I have seen so many older adults reap huge benefits from bodywork that I remain a steadfast advocate.

Can’t get outside much?

If you suffer from any condition that makes it difficult for you to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, (pain, arthritis, poor balance, auto-immune disease and many others) then massage becomes even more important. It can help keep your muscles loose and ready for the activities of daily living, it can reduce inflammation and pain levels, it can aid with sleep and anxiety, it can help prevent injuries from falling and can flush accumulated waste from muscles and organs due to inactivity or medications.

Aging can impose many restrictions in our bodies depending on our circumstances and massage is something we can always do for our health and well-being. Many older adults living in Sedona have the time and resources to afford regular massages and you can easily book ahead the same way you do for vacations or doctors appointments.

Try a session with me
At the beginning of your session I will write a detailed intake, while all you have to do is speak. We talk about what you want from the session and how I think I can help. Then, you undress and get onto the table in private. The table is lowered so it’s easy for you to get on and off. I check in with you often about pressure and pace, warmth on the table and in the room. I hope you will rebook before you leave but you are never pressured to do so. I will often give you tips on how to feel better in between sessions and changes that would help you.

The massage that happens in the midst of all this is both unique and personal, according to what you have asked for. You are never too old to try massage for the first time and I would be happy to fill in while your regular massage therapist is sick, on vacation or has left town more permanently. I’m here to help you get back on your feet and smooth your way through the aging process.

Feel Better, Stay Well. Body Dialog Massage.