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The One Self-Care Splurge That Makes A Big Difference

Why women say this splurge is critical for their health.

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Ania Siniuk
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I recently learned that most of my friends in our weekly women’s group get regular massages. They all shared what a big difference it makes in their physical health, relieving painful muscle tension from the stress they hold in their backs, necks, shoulders and heads. Even more importantly, they said it gave them a rare opportunity to decompress mentally by forcing them to rest and relax while someone takes care of them. They believe massages are critical to their self-care routines because of the positive effects.

I’ve had a few given as gifts in the past, but I've never scheduled regular appointments due to the cost. This got me thinking about the importance of self-care and how we deserve to invest in our health and well-being, especially in these midlife years when we're dealing with so much stress and our rapidly changing bodies. I always assumed massages loosen stiff muscles and help us relax, but I never explored other possible benefits.

It turns out there are several mental and physical health conditions that massage therapy can improve, including anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia, nerve pain, muscle tension and TMJ, to name a few. Promising studies have also shown its positive effect on heart health, our immune system, menopause symptoms, and even our energy levels and work performance.

Here are the five most common types of massage and why they might be the self-care solution you need:


An aromatherapy massage lasts 60-90 minutes and is often used on your back, shoulders, neck and head by applying gentle pressure with calming fragrant essential oils. This is popular with midlife women because it reduces stress and anxiety while relieving muscle pain and tightness. Interestingly, one study found aromatherapy may even decrease menopausal symptoms such as depressive mood, irritability, anxiety, hot flashes, sleep disturbance, muscle and joint problems, bladder problems and vaginal dryness. Sign me UP.

Swedish Massage

Swedish full-body massages last 60-90 minutes and involve gentle kneading and gliding strokes that help with blood flow, relaxation, muscle tension and stress. It’s perfect for first-time clients who want to experience the general benefits of a basic massage. Hot stone massage is similar, but the therapist uses heated stones instead of their hands.

Trigger Point Massage

The trigger point massage lasts 60-90 minutes. Applying different pressure levels to specific areas of tight muscles (trigger points) can decrease discomfort in other areas of your body. If you experience chronic pain, tension headaches or migraines, this might be best for you. One study showed significantly reduced headache pain using trigger point therapy.

Foot Massage

A foot massage can last 30-60 minutes. According to the American Institute of Alternative Medicine, it can lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and improve overall health and well-being. Studies found that it may also improve menopausal symptoms, migraines, depression, anxiety and insomnia. B Placing pressure on specific parts of the foot that are believed to be connected to organs or areas of the body can release tension and energy blockage (foot reflexology).

Deep Tissue Massage

Deep tissue massage lasts 60-90 minutes and goes deeper into the inner layers of your muscles and connective tissue for more effective pain and tightness relief. If you are recovering from an injury or surgery, it will help break up scar tissue and increase blood flow for healing. This massage treats chronic pain, muscle stiffness and joint tension and is most effective if you suffer from significant musculoskeletal pain or are a serious athlete.

Tips for beginners.

If you’re going to pursue massage therapy, there are many options to consider. Get a referral from your doctor or someone you know who really likes their massage therapist. If you don’t get a referral, read reviews carefully and always make sure your therapist is certified with updated credentials. If you aren’t fully satisfied, try new therapists until you find one you like. Most sessions cost between $60-$150. Be upfront about your expectations and limitations so you can relax and get the most out of this self-care splurge!

How many of you regularly get a massage? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Health