Health Benefits of Massage for Pain Reduction, Improved Sleep, Lymphatic Drainage, Sports Injuries and More with Sue Spencer, LMT,

Do you have tension or stress, sports injuries, or even chronic health issues such as arthritis or fibromyalgia? 

In this interview, Dr. Michael Karlfeldt, ND, PhD talks with massage therapist Sue Spencer, LMT on how massage promotes healthy sleep patterns, improved circulation and blood flow, stress reduction, moving the lymphatic system for detoxification. She also explains how massage helps reduce chronic pain and inflammation and can assist with greater mobility and recovery in muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons during movement and exercise. 

Dr. Karlfeldt: With me I have Sue, she’s an excellent massage therapist in our office (The Karlfeldt Center). I haven’t seen anyone say no to massage, yet. Have you come across that at any time?

Sue Spencer, LMT: Ah, very few. But rarely, at all.

Dr. K: We all enjoy getting relaxed and being massaged, and I know you do excellent massage. We also have the aspect where people are dealing with health issues, rather than just relaxation. We all want to relax, and it’s great for that. But health issues; where does massage come into play?

SS: It helps a lot of people, especially with, like, sleep issues and things like that. A lot of times people will say, “I’m not able to sleep.” A lot of times after their massages they will say, “For the next three days I got the best sleep I’ve ever had.” 

Lots of times for people who have high blood pressure, and they’re trying to keep that under control, and stress levels, things like that.  

Dr. K: So it helps then, obviously, to reduce the stress in the body. In stress we are dealing with the adrenals, they secrete the stress hormones. And then when you massage you relax the body, so you are not as stressed. 

But other benefits: we live in a very toxic environment. So we deal with all these toxins, and we need to get them out of the body. How can massage be of benefit in that area?

SS: It helps really a lot, especially with lymph drainage, and it will help move that through. It helps with so their system can naturally remove that from their body, when we do a lymph drainage massage.

Dr. K: And a lot of people don’t recognize that when they take a lot of vitamins and minerals, they believe it will magically land in all the different cells and tissues that it needs to go. And they don’t recognize that before getting into these cells there are all these toxins that have accumulated. The nutrients somehow have to make it through all these toxins in order to be able to get the cell. So working with that lymph, clearing out all the toxins, I would assume that would improve the nutrition uptake.

SS: For nutritional uptake, it does, it does. And it also helps your blood flow so that your body can absorb all the nutrients.

Dr. K: I’ve heard that from my understanding, that blood flow is a good thing?

SS: It is, very good! (laughing)

Dr. K: Just rumors! So if we can then, support the transport of nutrients to all the different areas. Which obviously will support us overall, healthwise.

SS: Correct, yeah.

Dr. K: So what kind of people tend to come to you the majority of the time? What kind of ailments do you see, over and above sports reduction?

SS: People with arthritis, and sometimes sports people who have done a lot of over-exertion to help them with their range of motion. Helps their muscles to get back into shape again. Again, helps their blood flow and circulation, things like that. Just about all kinds and types of people.

Dr. K: It’s interesting, there are all these “weekend warriors”, all these athletes that push hard, and put a lot of stress on the ligaments, muscles and so forth. And they need to recover quicker. So how does massage help in that area?

SS: It helps with their range of motion, it will help their muscles recover quicker. Again, it helps push out some of the toxins, and helps the blood flow, so it comes back into the muscles quicker. It helps them recover quicker.

Dr. K: So if all those toxins are not pushed out – because when we are exercising, we are increasing metabolism – and all these toxins, metabolic waste is produced from that. And if we don’t remove it, that creates a lot of inflammation, correct?

SS: Right, yeah. And they also get very sore. And it helps that soreness to go away quicker.

Dr. K: Exactly. So you reduce the soreness, but also, by moving those toxins out, you reduce the chance of re-injuring that area.

SS: True, yes.

Dr. K: And recover the area much quicker.

SS: Recover much quicker. Yes indeed.

Dr. K: You mentioned things like arthritis. And I assume rheumatoid arthritis, any kind of joint mobility issue, would be beneficial.

SS: Yes. You can get in there, and like I said, keep things moving, and keep things limber. And sometimes help them with different exercises and things like that too, to help them have a better life.

Dr. K: Yeah. Then we have things like fibromyalgia, for instance, is a very common syndrome that many people are suffering from. And where you have all these different of trigger points. Does that help also with massage?

SS: It does, it helps them relieve some of their pain, because a lot of the fibromyalgia people do have a lot of pain associated with that. So it helps the discomfort level go down.  

Dr. K: And how frequently should a person come in, if you are dealing with a health issue?

SS: It really kind of depends, everybody is different. I most often, people like to come in at least once a month, I like see people.

Massage is one of those wonderful things, it builds on itself. Coming in once is great and great and wonderful. Coming in lots more often, does a lot better. It just helps you a lot.

Dr. K: So it’s just re-training the body then, to kind of step-by-step, to getting more into a healthy state.

SS: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. K: Wonderful, well, thank you very much.

SS: You’re welcome!

Dr. K: I know you are awesome!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash. 

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