May 24, 2018
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Lowdown on rubdowns: massage offers many benefits to seniors

By Carol Higgins Taylor, Eastern Area Agency on Aging

It wasn’t too many decades ago that the term “full-body massage” conjured up visions of wealthy women at exclusive spas or heavyweight champs getting a rubdown after a particularly tough match.

Fast-forward to today. What  once was reserved for “someone else” is now available to everyone. Tight muscles, stiff joints, or simply the need for relaxation are a few of the reasons massage therapy has rapidly gained popularity.

While massage can be advantageous for everyone, seniors derive added benefits. Simple human touch often becomes too rare as we age and can be very nurturing.

Other benefits of massage include:

  • Improved circulation, which naturally lubricates joints, brings heat and more nutrition to muscles and increases the removal of waste.
  • Improved skin function by stimulating sebaceous glands, which lubricate the skin with the body’s own oils.
  • Reduction in anxiety and nervousness as the body releases natural endorphins and relaxants.
  • Relieves muscle aches, pain while improving muscular tone.
  • Increased flexibility and strength, which is needed for tasks such as climbing stairs and getting in and out of a tub or chair.
  • Increased range of motion and coordination.
  • Improvements in sleep patterns.
Massage can be very therapeutic but if there are any health concerns, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure or edema, check with a physician before booking an appointment. This is also true for someone taking certain medications, particularity blood thinners. The whole idea behind therapeutic massage is to facilitate change and balance within the body, mind and spirit, which is the triad of health.

When looking for a massage therapist it is important to verify credentials by asking questions such as:

Are you licensed to practice massage?

What types of massage do you offer?
Where did you receive your massage training?
Do you have experience working with seniors?

Feeling relaxed is of utmost importance so if you are not comfortable, aside from possible first-time massage jitters, look for another therapist.

Stress and anxiety can accelerate the negative effects of aging, but a massage may reduce these feelings and help seniors lead healthier and happier lives.

Remember, you’re never too old to be good to yourself.

Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging in Bangor. E-mail her at

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