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Archive for May 24th, 2012

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Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. on Thursday warned the public about individuals using government officials’ names or offices to solicit funds.
In a press statement, the secretary said that for the past few months his office has been receiving reports about individuals pretending to be him in order to solicit financial aid for government projects or to offer assistance to fast-track government procedures in exchange for a fee.
He said the impersonators call or text their intended victims, who are then directed to deposit the requested amounts in a personal bank account.
“Other government officials have been impersonated as well, with the same modus operandi,” Ochoa said.
He said he has directed the proper law enforcement authorities to investigate, capture, and charge those behind the scam.
“Several cases are now being investigated, with one group having been arrested by a joint NBI-PNP CIDG team earlier this week. The individuals arrested belong to a text scam syndicate and are now in the custody of the PNP,” he said.
Ochoa requested the public or those contacted by the unscrupulous individuals to report such incidents to the Office of the President.
“We also warn those engaged in these scams that these criminal activities are not taken lightly, and that those involved will be caught and prosecuted with the full force of the law,” he said. —With Amita Legaspi/DVM/VS

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What’s the average penis size? How fast is premature ejaculation? Exactly where is the G-spot? Grab a ruler and a stopwatch as the experts sort sex myths from the facts.
By Rob Baedeker
WebMD Feature

If there were a roll call for the founding fathers of sex myths for men, a couple of no-brainers would surely make the list: porn legend John Holmes, whose yule-log-size penis still casts a shadow over anxiety-prone males. Ditto NBA-great Wilt Chamberlain, whose claim of having slept with 20,000 women makes Don Juan look monastic.

And then there’s purveyor-of-sex-myths Walt Disney.

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“I think Walt Disney creates a lot of mythology,” says Seth Prosterman, PhD, a clinical sexologist and licensed marriage and family therapist practicing in San Francisco. “In Disney movies, people fall in love and walk into the sunset, and you get this myth that intimacy is a given once you fall in love, and sexuality is natural and follows that.”

In reality, says Prosterman, “Sex is something that we learn throughout a lifetime.”

If sexuality is a continuing education, a lot of us are scrambling to make up course credits. And in a realm that’s clouded by ego, myth and advertising that preys on anxieties, getting the facts about sex can be difficult. What is the average size of the male penis? How long do most men last during intercourse? Can men have multiple orgasms? Does the G-spot exist, and if so, how do I find it?

(Need to talk to the guys about something? Check out the Men’s Health: Man-to-Man message board for straight talk.)

Penis Size: The Hard Facts

“Drastically enlarge the penis length and width to sizes previously thought impossible!” reads a website for the Penis Enlargement Patch. (One envisions a lab-coated mad scientist pouring chemicals on his own penis, then shouting “Eureka!” and phoning the Guinness Book.) Almost anyone with an email account has been deluged by spam for such miracle-growth patches and pills, and the endurance of sex myths may explain the pervasiveness of such ads.

“We equate masculinity and power with penis size,” says Ira Sharlip, MD, clinical professor of urology at the University of California at San Francisco and president of the International Society for Sexual Medicine. “Of course, there’s really no relationship.” Still, Sharlip says, “all” of his patients want to increase their penis size.

The idea that bigger is better is “not just total mythology,” says Seth Prosterman, who has counseled couples since 1984 and notes that some of the women he’s worked with do prefer a bigger penis — aesthetically or “fit-wise.” But, he adds, “For the vast majority of partners, penis size doesn’t matter.”

So what, exactly, constitutes a big penis? Let’s whip out some data:

  • The average penis size is between five and six inches. That’s for an erect penis.
  • The flaccid male organ averages around three and a half inches.

Sex Fact: We Are Not Our Penises

If you had an anxiety hiccup before you read the “erect” qualifier, consider it a metaphor for the danger of jumping to conclusions about penis size — or about the primacy of the penis altogether.

“The idea that the penis is the most important part of your body underlies so many of men’s sexual problems,” says Cory Silverberg, a sexual health educator and founding member of Come As You Are, an education-based sex store in Toronto. “One of the biggest sex myths for men is the notion that we are our penises, and that’s all that counts in terms of sex.”

“It’s a myth that using the penis is the main way to pleasure a woman,” says Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex and relationships counselor in New York City whose book She Comes First offers a guide to “female orgasms and producing them through inspired oral techniques.” In his book, Kerner cites a study that reports women reaching orgasm about 25% of the time with intercourse, compared with 81% of the time during oral sex.

OK, OK, Size Isn’t Important. But How Can I Increase My Penis Size?

Despite the facts, the din of penis-enlargement marketing only seems to grow louder. (“Realize total and absolute power and domination in bed with your partner, with your new-found penis size and sexual performance” screams the ad for the Penis Enlargement Patch.) Men keep chasing after the mythical, mammoth-sized member.

Silverberg says male clients at his store, and in his counseling work, constantly ask him about penis pumps, whose powers of elongation, he says, are a “myth,” although he adds that some men who’ve used them report satisfaction, a phenomenon he explains this way: “I think spending more time paying attention to our genitals will probably increase our sexual health.”

Just the Facts on the G-Spot

If sex myths have such power over men’s thinking about their own anatomy, they have even more sway when it comes to female partners’ bodies — especially the much-debated G-spot.

Named after a German doctor, Ernst Gräfenberg, who first wrote about an erogenous zone in the anterior vaginal wall, the G-spot was popularized by a 1982 book called … The G-spot. This region behind the pubic bone is often credited as the trigger for a vaginal (vs. clitoral) orgasm, and even a catalyst for female ejaculation.

At the same time, the G-spot is commonly derided as perpetuating the myth ensconced by Sigmund Freud — namely, that the clitoral orgasm is a “lesser” form of climax than the vaginal orgasm, which requires penile penetration. As Ian Kerner summarizes, “In Freud’s view, there were no two ways about it: If a woman couldn’t be satisfied by penetrative sex, something must be wrong with her.”

The G-spot’s existence is still debated, and whether it’s fact or fiction depends on whom you ask.

“The G-spot exists,” says Seth Prosterman. “It’s a source of powerful orgasm for a percentage of women.”

“I don’t think the G-spot exists,” says Ira Sharlip. “As urologists, we operate in that area [where the G-spot should be] and there just isn’t anything there — there’s no anatomical structure that’s there.”

Prosterman and others point out the importance of thinking of the G-spot in context — that it may be an extension of the clitoral anatomy, which extends back into the vaginal canal. Kerner writes that the G-spot may be “nothing more than the roots of the clitoris crisscrossing the urethral sponge.”

Helen O’Connell, MD, head of the neurourology and continence unit at the Royal Melbourne Hospital Department of Urology in Australia, says, “The G-spot has a lot in common with Freud’s idea of vaginal orgasms. It is a sexual concept, this time anatomical, that results in confusion and has resulted in the misconception that female sexuality is extremely complex.”

In the end, whether this debated locus of pleasure is fact or fiction may not matter that much. O’Connell, who is also co-author of a 2005 Journal of Urology study on the anatomy of the clitoris, says that focusing on the G-spot to the exclusion of the rest of a woman’s body is “a bit like stimulating a guy’s testicles without touching the penis and expecting an orgasm to occur just because love is present.” She says focusing on the inside of the vagina to the exclusion of the clitoris is “unlikely to bring about orgasm. It is best to think of the clitoris, urethra, and vagina as one unit because they are intimately related.”

How Long, Part 2: How Premature Is Premature Ejaculation?

The possibilities for exploring a woman’s erogenous zones may be tremendously exciting — which leads to another source of sex myth and male anxiety: How long can I last? And how long should I be able to last?

Premature ejaculation is “the most common form of sexual dysfunction in younger men” according to Ira Sharlip, and its prevalence is around 20% to 30% in men of all ages.

The medical method of determining premature ejaculation is called “intravaginal ejaculatory latency time” (IELT), a stopwatch-timed duration measured from the beginning of vaginal penetration until ejaculation occurs. However, Sharlip adds, this quantitative measure doesn’t tell the whole story: “There are men who ejaculate within a minute but say that they don’t have premature ejaculation. And then on other end of spectrum, there are patients who are able to last for 20 minutes, and they say they do have premature ejaculation.”

In other words, the definition of “premature” may be largely in the eye (or mind) of the beholder, and depends on a man’s sexual satisfaction and his perception of his ability to control when ejaculation occurs.

If you just can’t wait for the numbers, though, a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found “a median IELT of 5.4 minutes.”

Ian Kerner says a common cutoff time used to define premature ejaculation is two minutes, but he adds that many of the men he works with “are not guys who can last a few minutes; they’re having orgasms during foreplay, or immediately upon penetrating. They have a hard time lasting past 30 seconds.”

But a quick trigger is normal, says Kerner. “Men were wired to ejaculate quickly — and stressful situations make them ejaculate even more quickly. It’s been important to the human race. If guys took an hour to ejaculate, we’d be a much smaller planet.”

Sex therapists and physicians offer a number of techniques that can help men manage their anxiety and prolong their time to ejaculation. Several drugs — like some antidepressants and topical creams  — have been prescribed by doctors to extend time to ejaculation.

And, contrary to the common perception that distraction or decreasing stimulation is the answer (slow down, think about baseball), some say that giving in to sensation can help address the issue as well. “The way to learn [to last longer] is by getting used to intense stimulation,” says Prosterman, “to increase the frequency of intercourse, and feel every sensation of being inside your partner and enjoy it.”

Come Again? The Mythical Multiple Orgasm for Men

While multiple male orgasm is possible anywhere two or more men are gathered and talking, actual male multiple orgasm is another story. Unlike the more established phenomenon of female multiple orgasm, men’s claims of successive climaxes can stray into the realm of sex myth. At the very least, male multiple orgasm is difficult to verify and may depend on the definition of orgasm.

Prosterman says that the book The Multi-Orgasmic Man popularized “an Eastern meditative process that involves wrapping the PC [pubococcygeus] muscle around the prostate. There’s a valve on the prostate that switches on and off before urination and ejaculation. The PC muscle stops this valve from opening, allowing an orgasm without ejaculation. The idea is to keep doing that five or six times in a row.

“Out of hundreds of guys I know who’ve tried this,” says Prosterman, “I know only one who’s been able to do it.”

Is this man Mr. Lucky, or just prone to poetic license?

A 1989 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior recorded the testimony of 21 other men who claimed to be multi-orgasmic, but Ira Sharlip says “that doesn’t happen,” referring to the phenomenon of “multiple orgasms in succession over a short period of time — like minutes.” And there’s no such thing as separating ejaculation and

Orgasm or Orgasm-esque?

What may be at issue here is the definition of orgasm — which, according to a 2001 Clinical Psychology Review article, has been strikingly inconsistent. “Many definitions of orgasm “depict orgasm quantitatively as a ‘peak’ state that may not differentiate orgasm adequately from a high state of sexual arousal,” the study’s authors wrote.

In other words, those men who report multiple orgasms may be able to achieve orgasm-esque states before they hit the point of ejaculatory no-return. And many men report that strengthening the PC muscles through Kegel exercises allows them to edge closer to this “point of inevitability” without cresting the mountaintop of ejaculation and descending into the gentle valley of the flaccid and the “refractory” period, where the penis is temporarily unresponsive to sexual stimulation.

This refractory period — commonly 30 minutes or more — is an unfortunate reality. While you’re “waiting,” spending that time caressing, kissing, massaging, and nuzzling isn’t so bad. If you are trying to have a second round because your partner wants it, keep sex toys in mind.

And if that recovery period isn’t super quick, you can still enjoy multiple orgasms — you may just need to cancel your afternoon appointments.

Sex Fact: It’s Not Always about the Numbers

In the end, there seems to be a recurring theme in moving beyond sex myths: Don’t get too hung up on the numbers.

So often the key to sexual satisfaction is not about penis size, stamina records, or a technical isolation of the G-spot. Rather, it’s about understanding yourself and your partner’s desires and recognizing that, unlike those Disney characters, real people aren’t born with a perfect, divinely granted understanding of sex.

As O’Connell remarks on the perils of over-privileging of the G-spot, “It is best for partners to explore the precise areas that turn someone on and how a partner likes to be given pleasure. That applies to both men and women, and the idea that there is any consistent ‘magic spot’ in either sex is just tyrannical.”

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The health benefits of sex extend well beyond the bedroom. Turns out sex is good for you in ways you may never have imagined.

When you’re in the mood, it’s a sure bet that the last thing on your mind is boosting your immune system or maintaining a healthy weight. Yet good sex offers those health benefits and more.

That’s a surprise to many people, says Joy Davidson, PhD, a New York psychologist and sex therapist. “Of course, sex is everywhere in the media,” she says. “But the idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust or in other cases a bit of embarrassment. So to really take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological, is eye-opening for many people.”

Sex does a body good in a number of ways, according to Davidson and other experts. The benefits aren’t just anecdotal or hearsay — each of these 10 health benefits of sex is backed by scientific scrutiny.

Among the benefits of healthy loving in a relationship:

1. Sex Relieves Stress

A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations — such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic — and noted their blood pressure response to stress.

Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.

Another study published in the same journal found that frequent intercourse was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in cohabiting participants. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.

 

2. Sex Boosts Immunity

Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Scientists at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 college students who reported the frequency of sex they had.

Those in the “frequent” group — once or twice a week — had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups — who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.

3. Sex Burns Calories

Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

“Sex is a great mode of exercise,” says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists. It takes work, from both a physical and psychological perspective, to do it well, she says.

4. Sex Improves Heart Health

While some older folks may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that’s not so, according to researchers from England. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.

And the heart health benefits of sex don’t end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

5. Sex Boosts Self-Esteem

Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex, collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

That finding makes sense to Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in Cambridge, Mass., although she finds that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better. “One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves,” she tells WebMD. “Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it.”

6. Sex Improves Intimacy

Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us bond and build trust. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina evaluated 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands and partners ending with hugs. They found that the more contact, the higher the oxytocin levels.

“Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond,” Britton says.

Higher oxytocin has also been linked with a feeling of generosity. So if you’re feeling suddenly more generous toward your partner than usual, credit the love hormone.

7. Sex Reduces Pain

As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.

In a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked lowered their pain threshold by more than half.

8. Sex Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk

Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life, Australian researchers reported in the British Journal of Urology International. When they followed men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those without, they found no association of prostate cancer with the number of sexual partners as the men reached their 30s, 40s, and 50s.

But they found men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third.

Another study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men, as well, compared with less frequent ejaculations of four to seven monthly.

9. Sex Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles

For women, doing a few pelvic floor muscle exercises known as Kegels during sex offers a couple of benefits. You will enjoy more pleasure, and you’ll also strengthen the area and help to minimize the risk of incontinence later in life.

To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.

10. Sex Helps You Sleep Better

The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research.

And getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure. Something to think about, especially if you’ve been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snoring the next.

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What are the benefits of  Massage Therapy?

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There are a number of benefits of massage including:

  • The patient’s circulation can be improved.
  • The massage can induce a soothing feeling as the nervous system responds better than any other body system to massage.
  • By stimulating the flow of lymph towards the lymph glands a massage can help eliminate waste and toxic products.
  • A massage can help the digestive process become more efficient as well.
  • The respiration system also responds to massage treatment by stimulating the circulation system.
  • Last but by no means least, massage obviously has many benefits for the muscular system by addressing various muscular conditions and injuries.

 

The following diagram shows a number of specific injuries that can be either treated or rehabilitated with the aid of remedial massage:

Massage has been practiced for thousands of years. Today, if you need or want a massage, you can choose from among 80 massage therapy styles with a wide variety of pressures, movements, and techniques. These all involve pressing, rubbing, or manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with hands and fingers. Sometimes even forearms, elbows, or feet are used.

According to a 2007 American Massage Therapy Association survey, almost a quarter of all adult Americans had at least one massage in the previous year. And, they have a wide range of reasons for doing so. More and more people — especially baby boomers — recognize the health benefits of massage. They choose from among many massage styles to get relief from symptoms or to heal injuries, to help with certain health conditions, and to promote overall wellness.

As you lie on the table under crisp, fresh sheets, hushed music draws you into the moment. The smell of sage fills the air and you hear the gentle sound of massage oil being warmed in your therapist’s hands. The pains of age, the throbbing from your overstressed muscles, the sheer need to be touched — all cry out for therapeutic hands to start their work. Once the session gets underway, the problems of the world fade into an oblivious 60 minutes of relief and all you can comprehend right now is not wanting it to end.

But what if that hour of massage did more for you than just take the pressures of the day away? What if that gentle, Swedish massage helped you combat cancer? What if bodywork helped you recover from a strained hamstring in half the time? What if your sleep, digestion and mood all improved with massage and bodywork? What if these weren’t just “what ifs”?

Evidence is showing that the more massage you can allow yourself, the better you’ll feel. Here’s why.

Massage as a healing tool has been around for thousands of years in many cultures. Touching is a natural human reaction to pain and stress, and for conveying compassion and support. Think of the last time you bumped your head or had a sore calf. What did you do? Rubbed it, right? The same was true of our earliest ancestors. Healers throughout time and throughout the world have instinctually and independently developed a wide range of therapeutic techniques using touch. Many are still in use today, and with good reason. We now have scientific proof of the benefits of massage – benefits ranging from treating chronic diseases and injuries to alleviating the growing tensions of our modern lifestyles. Having a massage does more than just relax your body and mind – there are specific physiological and psychological changes which occur, even more so when massage is utilized as a preventative, frequent therapy and not simply mere luxury. Massage not only feels good, but it can cure what ails you.

The Consequences of Stress
Experts estimate that 80 percent to 90 percent of disease is stress-related. Massage and bodywork is there to combat that frightening number by helping us remember what it means to relax. The physical changes massage brings to your body can have a positive effect in many areas of your life. Besides increasing relaxation and decreasing anxiety, massage lowers your blood pressure, increases circulation, improves recovery from injury, helps you to sleep better and can increase your concentration. It reduces fatigue and gives you more energy to handle stressful situations.

Massage is a perfect elixir for good health, but it can also provide an integration of body and mind. By producing a meditative state or heightened awareness of living in the present moment, massage can provide emotional and spiritual balance, bringing with it true relaxation and peace.

What You Already Know: The Benefits of Massage
In an age of technical and, at times, impersonal medicine, massage offers a drug-free, non-invasive and humanistic approach based on the body’s natural ability to heal itself. So what exactly are the benefits to receiving regular massage and/or bodywork treatments?

– Increases circulation, allowing the body to pump more oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs.

– Stimulates the flow of lymph, the body’s natural defense system, against toxic invaders. For example, in breast cancer patients, massage has been shown to increase the cells that fight cancer.

– Increased circulation of blood and lymph systems improves the condition of the body’s largest organ – the skin.

– Relaxes and softens injured and overused muscles

– Reduces spasms and cramping

– Increases joint flexibility.

– Reduces recovery time, helps prepare for strenuous workouts and eliminates subsequent pains of the athlete at any level.

– Releases endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller – and is being used in chronic illness, injury and recovery from surgery to control and relieve pain.

– Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema and can be used to reduce and realign scar tissue after healing has occurred.

– Improves range-of-motion and decreases discomfort for patients with low back pain.

– Relieves pain for migraine sufferers and decreases the need for medication.

– Provides exercise and stretching for atrophied muscles and reduces shortening of the muscles for those with restricted range of motion.

– Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays.

Other Body Therapies
Alexander Technique – A movement re-education therapy that was created by a mid-19th century actor who tried to understand his own movement dysfunctions on stage. The emphasis is on observing and modifying improper movement patterns, thereby reducing physical stress on the body.

Craniosacral Therapy – A gentle method of manipulating the body’s craniosacral system (consisting of thin membranes and cerebrospinal fluid which surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord) in an attempt to improve the function of the central nervous system, dissipate the negative effects of stress and enhance health and resistance to disease.

Reiki – A therapy based on universal life energy that serves to align chakras and bring healing energy to organs and glands. Utilizes visualization as practitioner acts as a channel for the life energy.

Rolfing – Used to reorder the major body segments, this technique utilizes physical manipulation and movement awareness to bring the body into vertical alignment. Treatments are offered in a 10-session series.

Shiatsu – A deep, finger-pressure technique using the traditional acupuncture points of Asian healing. Works to unblock energy flows and restore balance to meridians and organs.

We know a massage feels good, but it can have a host of therapeutic advantages, too.

The newest cure-all may be an ancient one: simple touch. The Chinese have been using massage for all kinds of medical conditions for centuries. Now, Western research is confirming that massage isn’t just for muscle pain. One of the most surprising findings: massage may help premature babies gain weight. When Tiffany Field, a professor of pediatrics, became a new mother, she massaged her premature infant daughter and was so impressed with the results she later founded the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Massage, it turns out, may boost immunity and help people with a range of conditions from premenstrual syndrome to high blood pressure. It also seems to help soothe pain from arthritis, burns and even surgery. Here are five surprising facts about massage from the research findings at TRI and elsewhere that you can put to use:

1. Pick Your Spot: You don’t have to massage the part of the body that hurts most. If you’re shy about letting a friend touch your aching lower back, for instance, she could help by massaging your shoulders instead. This is because massage creates chemical changes that reduce pain and stress throughout the body. One way it does this is by reducing a brain chemical called substance P that is related to pain. In a TRI study, for example, individuals with a form of muscle pain called fibromyalgia showed less substance P in their saliva (and they reported reduced pain) after a month of twice-weekly massages.

2. De-Stress, Stay Healthy. Massage may boost immunity. Several studies have measured the stress hormone called cortisol in subjects’ saliva before and after massage sessions, and found dramatic decreases. Cortisol, which is produced when you are stressed, kills cells important for immunity, so when massage reduces your stress levels and hence the cortisol in your body, it may help you avoid getting a cold or another illness while under stress.

3. Blood Pressure Benefits: Massage reduces hypertension, suggests a good deal of research. This may be because it stimulates pressure receptors that prompt action from the vagus nerve, one of the nerves that emerges from the brain. The vagus nerve regulates blood pressure, as well as other functions. In a 2005 study at the University of South Florida, hypertension patients who received 10 massages of 10 minutes each over three weeks showed significant improvements in blood pressure compared to a control group who simply rested in the same environment without any massage.

4. Technique Tactics: There’s little evidence to support one kind of massage over another, says Field, so don’t worry about whether your therapist is schooled in Shiatsu, Swedish or some other technique. The key is pressure firm enough to make a temporary indentation in the skin. If you try massage with a partner, use massage oil, which you can find in a health-food store or pharmacist, but test a little on your skin first to make sure you are not allergic.

5. Self Help. You can massage yourself. Although you don’t have to massage the part of the body that hurts to relieve pain, targeting that area does tend to help more. One example is massaging the arms. If you’re in danger of developing inflamed nerves in your hands or arms from repetitive movements (like typing on a keyboard, or even gripping a steering wheel for hours at a time) try massaging your arms for 15 minutes a day. Stroke from the wrist to the elbow and back down on both sides of the forehand.

Which Massage Styles Are Best?

You may have noticed that different massage styles are popular at different times. And you may have wondered whether each was just part of a passing fad or the latest, greatest massage technique? Even more important is how can you tell whether the latest style will actually help you?

Styles used in massage therapy range from long, smooth strokes to short, percussive strokes. Some massage therapists use oils and lotions; others do not. Most massage therapists have clients unclothe for a massage, but some do not. A massage can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours.

Before you can decide which massage style is best for you, you need to ask yourself a question. Do you simply want a massage for relaxation and stress control? Or do you need symptom relief or help with a certain health condition? Before booking a massage, let the therapist know what you’re looking for and ask which style the therapist uses. Many use more than one style. Or the therapist may customize your massage, depending on your age, condition, or any special needs or goals you have.

What follows is a list of some of the more popular massage therapy styles. The first four are especially popular.

Swedish Massage

The most common type of massage is Swedish massage therapy. It involves soft, long, kneading strokes, as well as light, rhythmic, tapping strokes, on topmost layers of muscles. This is also combined with movement of the joints. By relieving muscle tension, Swedish therapy can be both relaxing and energizing. And it may even help after an injury.

The four common strokes of Swedish massage are:

  • Effleurage: a smooth, gliding stroke used to relax soft tissue
  • Petrissage: the squeezing, rolling, or kneading that follows effleurage
  • Friction: deep, circular movements that cause layers of tissue to rub against each other, helping to increase blood flow and break down scar tissue
  • Tapotement: a short, alternating tap done with cupped hands, fingers, or the edge of the hand

The Need for Touch
As a society, we are touch deprived and this can lead to disease or emotional dysfunction. From the cradle to the nursing home, tactile stimulation and the emotional assurance of caring touch bring about a sense of well-being and security. In numerous studies conducted on massage for infants, TRI researchers have found improved weight gain and development in pre-term infants, improved weight gain and motor behavior in cocaine-exposed infants, and improved weight gain and decreased stress behavior in HIV-exposed infants. Full-term infants also benefit with increased alertness and social behavior, less crying and increased weight gain.

An In-Depth Study of the Positive Effects of Massage Therapy On the Body:

The eleven systems of the body are:  
1. Integumentary System (skin & skin structures)  7. Nervous System  
2. Muscular System  8. Endocrine System (glands)
3. Circulatory System   9. Urinary System
4. Skeletal System  10. Lymphatic and Immune System
5. Digestive System 11. Reproductive System  
6. Respiratory System

Examples of Massage Therapy Effects:

1. Integumentary System (skin and structures derived from it): massage promotes normal oil and sweat gland activity, improving the skin’s role as a protective barrier and in its elimination of waste products.

2. Muscular System: massage decreases the amount of fibrosis and adhesion that develops in muscle tissue after injury or immobilization, such as with a sprain or strain. Fibrosis is the formation of excessive fibrous tissue during tissue repair and adhesion is scar tissue that binds together normally separate tissues.

3. Circulatory System: massage increases local circulation to skin and muscles, clearing stagnate waste products and delivering oxygen and nutrition to tissues. This has the greatest effect on tissue that has impaired circulation, such as with someone with flaccid paralysis.

4. Skeletal System: massage increases circulation to the bones, benefiting their nutritional needs and aiding in their growth and repair. Joint pain as experienced with arthritis can be reduced by circulatory drainage.

5. Digestive System: massage physically assists the movement of solids in the colon, enhancing elimination and combating constipation.

6. Respiratory System: massage increases chest expansion and oxygen intake during inspiration, which is helpful for athletes and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

7. Nervous System:  massage causes stimulation or sedation of the nervous system depending on the technique used. Useful for people that are either sluggish or have insomnia.

8. Endocrine System (glands): massage causes a re-balancing toward normal levels of stress-related hormone (ie. adrenalin).

9. Urinary System: massage promotes the activity of the kidneys, enhancing the removal of waste products and reducing fluid retention.

10. Lymphatic and Immune System: massage promotes the reduction of edema and removal of wastes resulting from edema and inflammation. Improves immune function by reducing stress levels, as stress has been shown to decrease the immune response resulting in susceptibility to illness. Lymph is a fluid derived from body tissues that also contains white blood cells that protect against disease. It circulates through the lymphatic system, eventually returning to the bloodstream. Edema is an accumulation of lymph fluid between tissue spaces due to trauma, obstruction and several other causes.

11. Reproductive System: massage can help alleviate symptoms of dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) such as decreasing pain and promoting drainage.

 


Psychological/Emotional Effects:

It is well documented that massage is able to reduce anxiety, depression, stress and the hormone levels associated with it, and give the client a sense of well-being. Massage therapy has a positive effect on our mood states. Additionally, therapeutic massage can also bring forth a release of repressed emotions, which is usually part of a gradual process of the client learning to be more aware of areas of themselves that they have disconnected with.


Pain Control: 

Massage is recognized to have a great effect in reducing and managing pain that arises from a variety of sources, such as trauma, post-surgery, headache, fibromyalgia, arthritis and terminal illness. It can address the source of the pain and stop painful nerve firing, it can alter the processing of pain stimuli in the central nervous system (consisting of the brain and spinal cord) and can affect the processing of painful nerve firing by the peripheral nervous system (consisting of the nerves outside the central nervous system).

 

Preventative Measures:

An important and often overlooked benefit of massage therapy is its use as a means to help prevent injury or other conditions from arising. Athletics will be used as an example. Depending on the sport, athletes may continually overuse certain parts of the body that can cause a build up of tension in muscle tissue and microtears of muscle fibres over time. Muscle imbalances can result causing compensation and therefore altered posture and biomechanics (mechanics of a living body). This will all lead to increased stress on the affected joints, ligaments (connect bone to bone), tendons (connect muscle to bone) and muscles, resulting in possible injury. Before injury, an athlete may only feel the symptoms of tight muscles, mild pain or a mild decrease in range of motion in tissue and/or joints, and disregard it only as symptoms of training.

Massage may prevent injury from happening by reducing muscle tension, increasing muscle length and flexibility, and assisting in the removal of metabolic wastes (derived from the chemical processes of cells in the body); therapeutic massage aids in relieving pain and reducing adhesions and fibrosis in injured and healing tissue. This would encourage a more effective and efficient environment for tissue and its surrounding structures to function. 

 

Maintenance:

Another important and often overlooked benefit of massage therapy is its use to assist in increasing and maintaining the health of the body after recovery from an injury or when addressing certain conditions.

An example of how massage is used in the maintenance of our health is as follows. Our homes and vehicles need to be maintained otherwise they start to fall apart or stop working. Our bodies need the same attention we have for anything else in life, if not more. Even though we feel good and have no pain, it does not mean our body no longer requires attention. When symptoms arise, as long as they are not caused by  an acute trauma such as a car accident, usually means that there has been some sort of dysfunction going on for some time. This is our own body’s way of saying “Enough, I have been trying to normalize whatever you have been doing to me but it is just too much to handle. Stop doing what you are doing or change something. Please.” 

Massage can maintain tissue health by increasing its circulation thereby removing wastes, supplying nutrition, increasing drainage and decreasing pain. Therapeutic massage can maintain our general health by decreasing stress and stress related hormones thereby maintaining the function of our immune system and decreasing the chance of stress-imposed diseases and conditions. Massage therapy can maintain tissue health by decreasing the amount of fibrosis and adhesions developed from microtearing, overuse and lack of proper tissue nutrition; it can maintain our health by positively affecting any of our eleven systems. Massage can maintain our health by aiding in the prevention of injuries and resulting conditions. Massage can maintain our health by addressing, on a regular basis, the changes that occur to our body by the everyday stresses we impose on it, thereby allowing us to continue functioning in the most efficient and effective manner.


I am not expressing that, with massage, you’ll never become injured or develop a condition of some sort. What I am attempting to convey is that you only have one body in this lifetime so why not treat it as the most precious thing you own? As well, massage is not the only means of increasing and/or maintaining your health. It is one of many things that you can incorporate in what you feel is important to you and your well-being. As a therapist, massage constitutes only a portion of my treatment content and I understand the importance of always gaining more knowledge and advanced training in other modalities so as to provide the best treatment possible for my valued clients.

Please note that people with conditions that have brought about structural changes to the body, or with presenting pathologies, may only receive symptomatic relief with massage. However, in such cases, even symptomatic relief may make a huge difference in a client’s quality of life. I do not believe that massage “cures” anybody; I believe that massage helps me bring positive changes to my clients’ bodies so that they find themselves in a better position to heal and/or better cope with stresses that are so inflicted.

Hopefully this information has helped you gain a better understanding on what massage can do for you.


 

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