Massage in the Golden Years
We all have bodies. This should come as no surprise to anyone. Infants, as new as they are to the world, are keenly aware of their bodies. Over time they learn to control their body parts, figure out how to move through the environment with purpose, and come to understand the myriad of sensory signals their brains are receiving from the body every moment. As we emerge from those first couple of years, we boldly charge forward and face whatever life brings us.
Fast forward 60 years or so - years of growth, injury, and repair to that once infant body. Older bodies will endure any number of stresses and traumas over the years in addition to the normal aging process. Some of the effects of aging are a bit worrisome. Aside from the physical issues like impaired balance, reduced flexibility, and slowed reflexes, there is the potential for increased risk of cognitive dysfunction and depression. Another uncomfortable and unglamorous part of getting older is increased social isolation due to either the loss of independence or the act of outliving friends and family. A consequence of this isolation is touch deprivation. These are all real things, and they all present unique challenges for people.
The process of aging hits everyone differently and with respect to the resources they have to cope with it. There are two rather large points to be made in light of this. One, that no one is exempt. We will all get older, we will all experience stress and trauma, and we will forever be altered by it. And two, that there is nothing inherently bad about this process. This is not something that needs to be “fixed” or “corrected” in any way. What we can all do, however, is to stack the deck in our favor and maybe “optimize” this journey we are all on.
Perhaps one of the most interesting findings in massage research in the older population is the positive effect it has on balance. Falls come with higher risk the older and frailer our bodies are. Massage has been shown to have a stabilizing effect on static and dynamic balance, which helps to limit the likelihood of falling. One study showed that simply experiencing regular touch may have a positive effect on preserving, or at least slowing the loss, of sensory input as we age. This points to the possibility that regularly receiving massage could have a greatly beneficial influence on balance, posture, motor control, and stability!
Massage therapy offers these possibilities without drugs, without needles, and with limited side effects. Although there are no guarantees of any of these results, there are no results at all without trying. Head on over to our front desk and ask to schedule an appointment with one of our fantastic massage therapists. We are all going to age, but we have some say on how we do it. Let’s keep our bodies moving!
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