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   Take the Stress Out of Gift Giving, Give the Gift of Massage

  Picking out the perfect gift for any holiday or special occasion can be a stressful experience no matter who the gift is for.  Is it the correct size?  Is it the right color?  It's enough to make even the seasoned shopper nervous.  But there is a way to avoid all the worry and anxiety - consider giving the gift of massage.

  A gift certificate for massage therapy gives a friend or loved one the chance to escape the stress of daily life, while also enhancing their overall health. Several studies have shown that massage can help relieve stress, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure, and boost the function of the body's immune system.  According to a 2005 survey of 1,000 American adults sponsored by Brookstone, Inc, 52% said they would like to receive a massage product or service as a gift.

  A recent survey by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) found that approximately one in five adults in the United States received a massage from a massage therapist within the previous 12 months and 90% believe it's beneficial to your health. Whether your gift recipient has never received a massage or frequently enjoys massage, you can be sure you are not just giving a massage -  you are giving them the gift of health and well-being.

  Massage therapy is available at more locations than ever and purchasing a gift certificate for a massage has never been easier.  Massage therapy is available at spas, fitness centers, massage therapists' offices, or even in your own home.  A qualified massage therapist can work with you to choose the perfect massage gift to fit the needs of the recipient.  And while you're at it, why not make an appointment for yourself!

 Massage Basics: What You Should Know When You Visit a Massage Therapist

  Like most Americans, you probably know that a professional massage feels good and can help you relax from a hectic day or ongoing life stresses.  But did you know that massage therapy can help with a wide range of conditions including arthritis, a pulled muscle or lower back pain?  Did you know massage therapy is now very accessible than ever before and available in a wide variety of settings?  And did you know that there are different types of massage therapy for different conditions and situations?

  The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) offers the following information to help you become more familiar with massage therapy and how it can improve your quality of life and fit into your lifestyle:

  Massage therapy can be effective for a variety of conditions

  It can aid in recovery from a sports injury or prevention of an injury.  Massage has also been shown to be helpful in soothing chronic back pain, by reducing muscle tension and spasms.  Massage can be useful in easing headache pain, by targeting and releasing pressure points.  Research shows that massage can reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure, relax muscles and improve range of motion.

  Massage therapy is more accessible than ever before

  While you can receive a massage in a healthcare setting, massage therapy is also available at fitness clubs, shopping malls, chiropractic offices and even at airports.  Companies are also offering massage to their employees at work to help reduce absenteeism and stress and improve productivity.

  There are different types of massage therapy

How To Pick The Right Massage Therapist For You

First and foremost check to make sure your therapist is licensed and board certified.

 Every good massage therapist will take the time to go over your intake form with you to discuss all of your health issues, such as ailments, conditions, allergies. Especially on your first visit but every session should start with going over how you feel and any changes in your overall health.

 Ask your Doctor. An experienced, caring massage therapist will be more than happy to work with your Doctor to help maintain your optimum health. So get them to work together.

 Don't simply go by price. Sometimes a discount $40 massage is just that ...a $40 massage. Not to say they won't be good, but there are times you get what you pay for.

 Might sound silly but, look around to see how clean they are. Do they keep a tidy massage room ? Do they have a professional appearance ? Remember: there is a big difference between a profession and a hobby.

 Look for a massage therapist that will truly LISTEN to what you have to say. They should know what questions to ask you as well. To experience the best possible therapeutic massage there must be communication between therapist and client.

 Does your therapist follow-up with you ? You'll be able to tell a lot about their level of caring if they do a follow-up call after your massage. Again, these are highly trained health professionals and though they are not all equal, the really good ones do care.

 One aspect you may not have concidered is, does your therapist reward you for referrals ? Since every client is important to their practice an appreciative massage therapist will offer some type of reward program for bringing them additional clients.

 Does your therapist offer you a money-back guarantee ? Yes, read that correctly, a money-back satisfaction guarantee. Though very rare, a confident therapist will remove all the risk of whether or not they know what they're doing with such an offer.

 So when it comes to choosing the perfect massage therapist for you: Ask questions.

Before, During and After Your Massage

Before Your Massage:

 Shower if you're coming straight from home. If your massage is scheduled for right after you get off of work there is no need to apply extra perfume.

 Drink lots of water before your massage, it will help with the release of toxins. Plus - you should be drinking water regularly whether it's massage day or not.

 Bring a set of loose fitting clothes to your session. You'll want to remain comfortable after your massage so don't forget comfy shoes.

 During Your Massage:

 Not everyone is the same so let your therapist know if the room is too cool or a bit warm.

 It's O.K. to tell your therapist to use more pressure or less if it feels uncomfortable in any way. You will have gone over your intake form with your therapist before the massage starts but since every body is different, let them know how it feels.

 Don't be afraid to suggest turning the music volume up or down (within reason of course) They are doing the work but this is YOUR enjoyable experience.

 After Your Massage:

 Drink plenty of water. Your muscles will begin to release toxins so make sure you stay hydrated to help flush them out of your system faster.

 Give yourself some time to enjoy the massage you just had. If at all possible, try not to rush right back into a stressful situation.

 Schedule your next appointment. This is the best time to arrange your next session because your mind now has something to look forward to and you won't have to worry about availability.

 People who get regular massages tend to report much better results than those that just go in when they absolutely have to.

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Always consult your physician, before considering massage therapy. Some ailments and conditions are not a good candidate for massage. Massage/bodywork should not be construed as a substitute for medical examination, diagnosis, or treatment, and that you should seek a physician, chiropractor, or other qualified medical specialist for any mental or physical ailment of which you are aware. Massage/bodywork practitioners are not qualified to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any physical or mental illness.

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