Health and Fitness with Jake

The benefits of therapeutic massage

On December 2, 2012

It's finals time, ladies and gentlemen, and you know what that means:

Time to spend hours on end cramming for your exams, putting the finishing touches on your final class projects and writing up that 10-page paper at the last minute, because, hey, a month ago you had all the time in the world to get it done, so of course you didn't get it done then.

It's go time.

With all of this studying and shouldering of the immense burden that accompanies the preparation for finals week, the amount of stress we dutiful students endure is at an all-semester high as the dreaded days draw to a close.

Couple these immense stress levels with countless hours sitting hunched over your computer or pouring through your textbooks and you have created the perfect storm to wreak havoc on the muscles in your neck, back and shoulders.

These painfully constricting knots and kinks are practically incapacitating, and will continue to plague you long after you've gone home for the semester, that is, if left untreated.

What can you do to alleviate yourselves of these wearisome aches and pains, you ask?

The answer is simple, folks: you need to get a massage.

I'm not talking about having your significant other rub your neck or back for a total of five minutes as they try to "make you feel better." I don't care how amazing you think your lover is at kneading your strained musculature - not only will their ministrations fail to fix your discomforts in the long run, but they may, in fact, be causing more damage than good with their untrained hands.

You need to go see a professional, certified massage therapist, and trust me, after an hour session with one of these miracle workers, you will become an avid believer in the healing and overall wellness benefits of massage therapy.

I have been seeing a massage therapist in my hometown of Buffalo once a month for a one-hour session for the past two years as a complement to my other primary health care means, and the difference this treatment makes in my everyday life is unmistakable.

As a UB student, you are eligible to sign up for a 10-minute massage on either North or South Campus - at 114 Student Union Wellness Suite for the former and in the Health and Sciences Library for the later. This is an amazing service that UB offers.

However, the wait list to make appointments for these massages is miles long and, as revitalizing as the 10-minute experience will be, it just cannot compare to an hour-long period of therapeutic ecstasy.

Now here's something a lot of you probably don't know, and is has been the reason I have been able to receive this monthly blessing:

 My health coverage is run through Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which entitles me to up to 12 massages per year.

 This means that my massage appointments are covered by my insurance, just as if they were any other form of doctor's visit. I pay a co-pay of $10 for a service that without medical coverage would cost anywhere from $60-$100 a session.

I am telling you this because I want you to examine your own health care coverage to see if you are qualified to receive this service at such an incredibly reduced cost. If you are, I implore you to take advantage of this opportunity. The benefits you will see and feel are unparalleled.

According to, "most chiropractic and physical-therapy treatments are reimbursed by health insurance, while more than 90 percent of massage therapy sessions are paid out of the client's pocket."

One way you can guarantee massage therapy is covered by your insurance is to receive a prescription for treatment from a chiropractor, regular physician or registered physical therapist, according to

Check your insurance policies, go get a massage as an end of the semester treat and thank me later. Happy studying.

Weekly Fit Tips:

Use your words.

If you are going to a massage therapy session for the first time, feel free to ask questions about anything you don't understand. Like, what exact muscle groupings the therapist is targeting or where the worst areas of muscle tension are and what you can do yourself to fix these problems outside the office. Relax and make your wishes known so the therapist can help you in the best way possible. Let them know if you are ever uncomfortable or if they are exerting too much pressure - they will modify their techniques to the individual for the best results.

The complete workout

According to Patricia J. Benjamin, Ph.D and author of Therapeutic Massage for Sports and Fitness, "the physiological benefits of massage include improved body and lymph circulation, muscle relaxation and general relaxation. These in turn lead to removal of waste products and better cell nutrition, normalization, and greater elasticity of tissues, deactivation of trigger points, and faster healing of injuries." You basically become Wolverine from X-Men when you include massage therapy in you general health plans. So get on it.



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