Q: I am old and frail without much muscle, but I ache all over, can I still get a massage?
Mimi: We see racehorses and athletes getting rubdowns. So we may think that only creatures with great muscle tone benefit from massages.
EVERYBODY or Every BODY needs massages.
The older, weaker, and frailer you are with poor muscle tone, the more you need massages. The massage will increase blood flow. This will aid in moving oxygen to all your cells and carrying away waste from the cells. The massage will aid in toning muscles. The massage will make joints less stiff.
Having regular massages will help your outlook on life. The massage will help release “feel good” hormones. The social interaction with the spa personnel will be invigorating. The total acceptance at the spa and being pampered will help your self-esteem.
As we age we feel less confident about our bodies. Our society is so youth driven that we may feel embarrassed because we are no longer lithe and muscular. A massage therapist has seen every kind of body and doesn’t judge. She wants you healthy and happy. Most of your body will be covered with a sheet. Each arm and then each leg will be uncovered, massaged, and then covered back up. So you are never really exposed. Your modesty is of utmost concern.
If you cannot get out of bed, have a nurse, family member, or a massage therapist massage each limb, your back, and head every day, if possible. Always massage toward the heart. If you have digestive problems, massaging the abdomen is beneficial. Massage gently in a clockwise direction. If you want your tummy massaged, tell your therapist. A good therapist is trained in school on abdominal massage. Many guests do not like it, so most therapists skip abdominal massage and spend more time on the back.
If you can get up and into a wheel chair but cannot get out of the wheel chair onto a massage table, dress in loose fitting clothes and have a massage while sitting you your wheel chair. When you call the spa to make an appointment, ask about wheelchair accessibility. Then just before leaving home, call again to tell the staff that you are coming. This way they will watch for you and offer help as needed.
If you can get up but have no energy to dress, put a bathrobe over your PJs and go the spa. This saves lots of energy. No dressing, undressing, redressing (oh, that is reprimanding, sorry). Bring your clothes with you and get dressed in your clothes after your massage. Or go home in your jammys.
If you have the energy to shower before your massage, the lotion or oil used in the massage will seal in moisture in your skin. So in addition to a relaxing massage, you will receive a beauty skin treatment.
Please discuss hydrotherapy treatments or body wraps in person with the spa staff. Some services cannot be given unless you feel strong enough to stand, get in and out of a therapy tub easily, or turn over on a wet, plastic mattress while feeling like a beached whale. These services require strength and agility.
Check the credentials of the massage therapist or spa that you plan to see. Know about specialized training, licensing, background, and years in business. What is the reputation of the person or business that you will go to? Is a nurse or anyone who has worked at a hospital or convelescent home on site? Has anyone on staff studied first aid and CPR?
Mimi Barre is the owner of International Day Spa, 325 Cajon St., Redlands.
Send your skin care questions to her at MimiB@INTLdayspa.com. She and her estheticians are available for personal consultations. (909) 793-9080. Past columns of Ask Mimi are on the web at www.INTERNATIONALdayspa.com.