Rub Away The Day

How is massage different from the medicine you get at a drugstore?

It’s collaborative. “The client plays a big role,” Bistas said. “It’s not the same as taking a chemical substance, a pill that will knock you out whether you believe it will or not.”

To get the full benefits of a massage, he said, clients need to do four things:

Be receptive: If the patient doesn’t like to be touched, or doesn’t think massage will help them, the treatment will produce more tension than it releases.

Participate: “If the pressure is not right, you need to say something.” Same goes if you’re overheating, too cold, or otherwise uncomfortable.

Commit: A regular regimen of massages is more effective than a smattering of emergency ones. If clients only get massages when they are in serious pain, they put the therapist in an impossible situation, since he or she then has “60 minutes to undo damage that has been done for years.”

Know what it isn’t: Massage is a supplemental treatment—it won’t single-handedly make you healthy. Wellness also requires “proper nutrition, sufficient rest, exercise, and medical care,” Bistas says.