Who doesn’t love a good massage on a day off to relax and rejuvenate? But massages aren’t just indulgent treats that feel good. Many top athletes use massages to keep themselves performing at a top level, and white-collar professionals use them to stay at the top of their business and family game as well.
When swimmer, Dara Torres, competed in her 5th Olympic Games at age 41, she became the oldest female swimmer to ever take part in the Games. Torres didn’t just participate though; she medaled, bringing her illustrious winning record to 12 Olympic medals. Torres credited a rigorous training and recovery schedule with preparing her, even after giving birth to her daughter. In an article in the New York Times, Torres revealed she had hired two masseuses and received massages at least three times a week to help her body perform its best.
Here in New Orleans, the Pelicans often travel with at least one massage therapist when heading out on the road. When visiting NFL teams arrive at their hotel in New Orleans for an away game versus the Saints, an entire meeting room is dedicated to massage tables and the recovery process.
Why? Massages have proven medical benefits. Marlo Jeansonne, a New Orleans native who graduated from Chapelle High School and is a licensed massage therapist for Chronos Body Health and Wellness, explains. “Massages can reduce stress, improve circulation, reduce pain, eliminate toxins, improve flexibility, improve sleep, enhance immunity, reduce fatigue and eliminate depression/anxiety,” Marlo says. “If you’ve had surgery, they can also help reduce post-procedure swelling.”
There are four main types of massages:
Swedish – Gentle form using long strokes and kneading
Deep – Slower, more forceful strokes
Sports – similar to Swedish but geared toward active people to prevent or treat injuries
Trigger Point – focuses on tight muscle fibers that form due to overuse or injury
Many alternative or spinoff methods of massage exist too such as hot stone or cupping, which Jeansonne is certified in and has performed at Chronos since she joined the practice in 2016.
Massages feel good because they release endorphins into your body, helping you feel happy, energized and at ease – according to Jeansonne. The process also helps detoxify the body, by moving waste products out of your muscles and into circulation. It’s important to drink water after the massage process to make sure the waste removal process functions as efficiently as possible.
Jeansonne recommends a massage bi-weekly or at least monthly. Many spas and massage centers in the Greater New Orleans area offer membership plans or package deals to help make the treat of a professional massage more accessible.
If you aren’t looking to head to a local business for this, you can try several effective at-home methods to help simulate similar benefits. Foam rollers are one of my favorites. I’ll spend several sessions a week, rolling out my neck, back and hamstrings – usually after a hard workout or a long flight. A heated towel or a neckroll purchased off the internet can help you relax, similar to what spas drape you in for a day of luxury. When I use a towel at home to loosen up my neck muscles, I slightly dampen it, sprinkle a little lavender oil on it and heat it in the microwave. Finally, a lot of the athletes I cover now use mechanical massage devices on the sidelines during games. While NFL, NBA and college players use professional grade, hand-held deep tissue massagers, there are a plethora of choices for in-home use now available at more affordable prices.
A little self-care can go a long way, especially now that school is back in session and the holidays are fast approaching, There’s never enough time in the day, but carving out a moment to make sure we’re at our best, personally, pays huge dividends for ourselves and those around us.