The future of workplace massage is tied to the economics of health care policy. At long last, corporate, governmental and academic policy makers have come to the conclusion that a health care system whose primary focus is sickness care is doomed to bankruptcy. They have concluded the ultimate foundation of an economically viable health care system has to be prevention and wellness.
This radical paradigm shift is stamped indelibly into the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010. While the media and partisan politicians were obsessing about the constitutionality of ObamaCare and its new framework for financing health care, mostly overlooked was the fact that the 954-page ACA legislation specifically “directs the creation of a national prevention and health promotion strategy.”
The law created the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council(National Prevention Council), composed of the heads of 17 Federal agencies and chaired by the Surgeon General. This high-level federal action group works closely with a 25-member Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health, also mandated in the legislation. Both of these groups are developing plans and recommendations that will impact every strata of society, including workplace wellness.
The medical community has traditionally limited prevention to proven clinical screenings—mammograms, colonoscopies, blood pressure screenings, treadmill tests and the like. In the new health care model, prevention also includes dealing with lifestyle and pre-clinical conditions, a particular strength of chair massage.
Seated massage has always been good at preventing little problems from becoming big problems. The reason someone wakes up with a crick in her neck is never because, as she might claim, she “slept wrong.” Rather, it is because of weeks or months of accumulated psychological or physical stress finally reaching a tipping point that resulted in a muscle spasm. Regular chair massage alleviates the results of these minor stresses and prevents muscles from reaching that involuntary contraction threshold.
Too much mental stress is the primary or secondary cause of many medical conditions as well as an inhibitor to healing virtually all injury and disease processes. Most people will agree that high-quality chair massage is an instant stress reducer. While we don’t yet know all the exact mechanisms involved, there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the claim that massage is effective at reducing anxiety and depression.
Human beings were made to move. When employees are immobilized by their jobs at desks and keyboards, their bodies will eventually break down and rebel.
Regular seated massage moves the tissue, which enhances circulation, which lets the body’s own self-healing mechanisms work most efficiently. Neither movement nor circulation is optional and chair massage provides a heaping serving of both.
Immobilized bodies that don’t move result in what Thomas Hanna, the great somatics pioneer, more elegantly termed sensory-motor amnesia.
That is to say, chronically contracted muscles which eventually stop giving feedback to the higher cortex of conscious awareness. When this happens, we are no longer able to feel the imbalances we have created and we begin to think that our bad posture is normal.
Seated or chair massage restores the mind-body connection and we feel better in two important ways:
1) We feel the relief of the multi-tiered rebalancing that comes at the end of a massage.
2) Our capacity for experiencing sensation inside our bodies increases.
We can now feel more and we can feel better. If we are not getting accurate feedback about the state of our health, we see no reason to change. Massage restores that feedback loop and shows us that we have control over how we feel.
This enhanced self-awareness brings us to the second set of rationales for seated massage in the workplace.
Advocates of wellness and health promotion know in order for the health care paradigm to shift from treatment to prevention, people must be motivated to make significant lifestyle changes.
We have known for decades that five chronic diseases–heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes–are responsible for more than two-thirds of all deaths in the United States. We also know the progression of all these conditions is heavily influenced by lifestyle. Studies have repeatedly shown we would save billions of health care dollars every year if we ate better, exercised more, reduced chronic stress and didn’t smoke.
So why haven’t we change our lifestyles? Because change requires effort and motivation.
One of the unique aspects of chair massage, unlike any other workplace wellness modality, such as smoking cessation, dietary modification, exercise, Yoga or meditation, is it requires no motivation to change. It works immediately with no effort or intervention required on the part of the recipient. With massage, people also come to realize that they have far more control over how they feel than they ever imagined and thus become more motivated to change.
The frosting on the cake is that chair massage also supports every lifestyle change.
No matter where you are on the spectrum of wellness, from couch potato to super athlete...adding massage will immediately make you feel better and positively reinforce your efforts.
Relax 'N Go Massage is Greater Philadelphia's On Site Chair Massage Specialists. Contact us at (215)326-9352 or go to www.relaxngomassage.com to learn more.