LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There are many different types of massages, but the practice isn't just about being pampered.
The National Holistic Institute, California's largest accredited massage therapy school, has students testing a host of techniques.
"I went to a 200-hour program. Now our program is 900 hours for an entry-level massage professional," said Joe Bob Smith, manager for Southern California Region at the National Holistic Institute.
Often considered extravagance, massage can accomplish mental and physical benefits to the body.
"With massage, we've got somebody moving all of your fluids through - blood, lymph, the main ones that are carrying all of these nutrient, the good stuff, to the cells. They're taking away the toxins," said Smith.
Studies indicate massage can lower the stress hormorne cortisol, boost immunity in women with breast cancer, reduce asthma symptoms in children, and even increase weight gain in premature babies. It can also help fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis in the knee, chronic low-back pain and inflammation after exercise.
One study on men who exercised to exhaustion and had one leg massaged post workout found increased mitochondria production in the treated leg. This is important to note because mitochondria produces energy in the cells, which can help speed recovery.
Smith says try some techniques at home or your office. At your wrist, find arm tendons at the base of the thumb, feeling for the groove. While pressing down and massaging, point and flex the hand, working up the arm.
For neck tension, have someone lean their forearm in between your shoulder and neck, rather than dig in with their thumbs.
"Some of the things we look for as massage therapists are strokes that you can do for a long time that are easy on the body," said Smith.
Have the client lean their head away to stretch further. And stop headaches before they start by moving the thumb and finger up the skull base. Actually, most tense or tight area can benefit.
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