Massage has been an important part of my life for almost a decade. Initially I went for a spa massage here and there and couldn’t tell you the difference between that and therapeutic massage. After one session with Registered Massage Therapist Cheryl Lewin, I figured out what it was! As lovely and relaxing as a spa massage can be, therapeutic massage is where it’s at (at least for me). I danced for ten years and my teacher recommended that I go for massage to treat the various aches and pains that my one-time favourite hobby caused. Cheryl is a tiny, little person who gives a very deep massage. There are moments when it can be painnful, but it’s a good kind of pain if that makes sense. She continues to manage every ache and pain that I have. I actually will not go to anyone else for a massage – she just is the best at what she does. If you ask her, she’ll even tell you to try out other RMTs but I just can’t. She doesn’t just look at how massage can help, rather she takes a more holistic view. For example, before I knew that I had plantar fasciitis, I went to Cheryl to see if she could help with the pain, as she almost always does. She told me to go for physiotherapy and even spoke to a friend that runs several clinics. He is hard to get an appointment with, but made an exception because of her. That is how I finally found out what I was dealing with. She cares about your overall health, not just what she, herself can treat.
In “You Being Beautiful” (yes, I’m revisiting the book, just like I promised), Drs. Oz and Roizen speak to the benefits of massage including relaxation, the release of muscle tension and aromatherapy (when used as part of a massage). There are many other health benefits, as I mentioned, it’s important for me for pain management. Given all of the advantages and the fact that it is Oz endorsed, I thought it would be a good time to speak with Cheryl about massage. There is so much content that I am going to divide this into a two-part entry to be continued tomorrow. Here is some of our Q&A:
1) Why is massage therapy important to your overall health?
Massage is important to health mainly because it helps counteract stress. We have two main functions of our nervous system: our sympathetic nervous system fight, flight and freeze, and our parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest. Most of us are under stress of one kind or another every day. The effect of cortisol (the stress hormone released when the sympathetic nervous system is activated) on our organs is important to note. Fight or flight is an important function when we are in danger and need to get to safety. It is part of how our ancestral brains developed. When we are constantly under stress, cortisol is being released frequently. The negative effect is that it can break down our lymphatic tissue (our immune system), and shut down the part of our brain that makes decisions. When we were in caves running from large animals, there was not much need for reasoning in our decision making; we simply needed to get away. Modern society creates situations in which we are triggered to release this hormone, but many modern day stresses do require reasoning in our decision making. Think of someone you know who is a high stress character. Are they constantly making choices that seem less than wise? It’s because they literally are unable to make better decisions because of the effect of cortisol on their brains. Massage directly accesses the parasympathetic nervous system aka rest and digest. Massage helps to flush out the lymphatic system, release tension in muscles and also provides an opportunity for caring touch. Giving the body the chance to rebalance itself is crucial to our long term health. Massage is just one way to accomplish this goal.
2) How often, do you recommend getting a massage (for maintenance)?
Most people would do well to have massage once every 4 to 6 weeks. It really depends on the person’s postural habits, stress levels and lifestyle. I like to encourage my clients to become excellent observers of their physical and psychological states. If you know that you are going through a particularly stressful time, or have been spending even more time at the computer, you need to do something to offset the negative side effects of these situations. Part of what I want to help me clients with is increasing self awareness so that they listen to the messages their bodies are sending them.
3) What are the different types of massage available and how do you know which is right for you?
There are many types of massage. The most common that is covered by insurance, is Swedish massage. The second most common is Shiatsu, which is based on the meridians in Chinese medicine. Thai massage is usually done clothed and involves the therapist performing passive stretches on the client.
To be continued….
Cheryl Lewin – Registered Massage Therapy / Goju Ryu Karate /Tai Chi Chuan / P.T. Registered Massage Therapy 647-996-4330-phoenixdragonrising-yahoo.ca
Cheryl Lewin, RMT, graduated from Sutherland Chan school and teaching clinic in 1999. Her 10+ year career has afforded her experience in physiotherapy clinics, longterm care facilities and the entertainment industry. Recently she has returned from working in a multidisciplinary clinic in Hong Kong whose primary focus was restoring postural imbalances through massage and rehabilitative Pilates. While in Hong Kong she also taught Goju Ryu Karate and Tai Chi Chuan to preschool children, children aged 7yrs to 11yrs and adults. An introductory program to self defense was also implemented for teenage girls, all expatriates who would be continuing education outside of Hong Kong. Cheryl has also contributed articles to local Hong Kong parents and fitness magazines. She is also a NASM licenced personal trainer.