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The Benefits of Therapeutic Massage Therapy for Seniors

Aging means lots of changes, especially changes in our body. Aches, pains and stiffness that naturally occur as we grow older start to slow us down and we experience more chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis or ailments such as Parkinson's Slowing down can mean losing out on some of our favorite physical activities and enjoying life less. So, what can be done to help us regain quality of life?

One thing that works wonders for aging bodies is massage therapy. It is non-invasive and can help relieve many symptoms of age-related conditions (especially when paired with traditional medicine). Seniors who partake in regular massage therapy find themselves with increased energy which leads to a better quality of life which leads to feeling better all-around.

In fact, massage therapy has been proven to have positive effects for seniors in a variety of ways.

  • Healing more quickly from injuries/illness. As we age, our range of motion can become restricted due to the tightening of joints and muscles which makes it harder to heal from injuries. Since massage therapy keep muscles & joints more fluid, it enables quicker healing (and can make you less injury-prone in the first place!).

  • Relieve osteoarthritis pain. Studies have shown that incorporating massage into treatment for osteoarthritis improves physical function and helps ease pain and stiffness.

  • Better sleep. Sleep is important no matter your age and we tend to do less of it as we get older. Seniors receiving weekly massages reported sleeping more deeply and for longer periods of time. Better sleep equals better quality of life, period.

  • Relaxation. Massage decreases excess cortisol (aka the "stress hormone") enabling for a more relaxed state.

  • Happiness. Depression can find us anywhere, anytime regardless of age, but seniors can be hard hit. One reason for this is due to an absence of friendly touch (touch-deprivation is very real and very not good for us). Massage therapy can provide comfort thus improving mental health.

  • Alleviate agitation that results from Alzheimer's. Studies have shown that gentle massage on people who have Alzheimer's can alleviate agitation activities such as pacing, wandering, and resisting.

As you can see, massage therapy has numerous benefits for one's body. But which kind of massage therapy should you go with? I have a unique and customized approach for every client visit. During each client sessions I discuss how they are feeling, what their goal of the session is and what has changed since I last saw them. I also listen to what they are not telling me -- how is their posture, do they look sleep deprived, what does their skin look like, how are their eyes tracking, and so on. This is all important information for our session. Depending on one's needs, here are two specific kinds that can benefit you.


What is craniosacral therapy (CST)? This therapy uses a gentle touch to manipulate joints in the cranium, pelvis and spine. It was developed in the 70s by a doctor of osteopathy named John Upledger. Like all massage, it is non-invasive, and its goal is to enhance the body's natural healing abilities. It works by affecting the pressure and circulation of the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord and is particularly good for pain management.

Conditions suited for craniosacral therapy:

  • Alzheimer's

  • Neck pain

  • Back pain

  • Scoliosis

  • Migraines

  • Stress

  • Chronic fatigue

How well does craniosacral therapy work? Well, in a randomized controlled clinical trial comparing CST with sham treatments for chronic non-specific neck pain patients, the patients being treated with CST reported significant effects on their pain intensity levels at week 8 and week 20. By week 20, there were also significant differences between the two test groups with the CST group experiencing less functional disability, anxiety, pain on movement and a better physical quality of life. There were no serious adverse effects reported. (The Clinical Journal for Pain)

I regularly see people with concussions, debilitating headache suffers, those who have experienced car accidents and whiplash, and folks with deep seeded pain. many feel relief after just one session, though the number of sessions depends on the client's constitution.


To understand manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), first we need to understand the lymphatic system. This system works with the cardiovascular and circulatory system to keep blood and lymphatic fluid levels balanced, while flushing the body of toxins. The lymphatic system is also the system to carry immune cells through the body, aiding in fighting infections. Now, imagine that your lymphatic system has slowed.what would happen? Toxins would accumulate and since immune cells wouldn't be delivered where they're needed. The end result? Aches, pains, edema, and a harder time defending against infections. Yikes!

What exactly is lymphatic drainage? MLD works by applying very light pressure to lymphatic pathways and stimulating lymphatic fluid circulation, thereby flushing toxins from the body and reducing the chance of edema. The benefits, according to Dr. Jonathan Kipnis of the Virginia School of Medicine, MLD decreases plaque in the brain, boosting brain function -- that's a big one! Plus, MLD can also improve post-surgery edema conditions, decreasing pain and improving mobility. (IOSR Journal of Pharmacy)

If you are experiencing any of the following, (plus more) MLD can benefit you:

  • Edema

  • Lymphedema

  • Digestive problems

  • Arthritis

  • Insomnia, Stress or fatigue

  • Diabetic Ulcers

  • Migraines

  • Joint replacements

  • Parkinson's, Dementia or other neurological issue

MLD is not recommended for:

  • Circulation problems

  • Blood clots

  • Congestive heart failure

  • Kidney problems

  • Infection

MLD is a gentle approach that offers benefits and relief for many conditions. As with all treatments, MLD should be discussed with your physician and practitioner who will determine if it the right treatment for you.


There is an array of massage techniques available to your but if you are a senior experiencing any of the above conditions, these two techniques are particularly recommended. Find a massage therapist in your area knowledgeable in these modalities (with good reviews!) and see just how much better you can feel. CST and MLD are just two of the practices we're certified in at Whole Body Balancing. With these we can help you regain quality of life and form a new relationship with your body.

Contact Rena by email at or call her today at 201-338-0483 to schedule your consultation!

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