In a perfect world, we'd all be in shape and stay there. But working out too hard can be almost as hurtful as being the couch potato who gets exercise by walking to the fridge.
Too much of either extreme — sloth or exertion — eventually tweaks something, and that's when the intelligent hands of a massage therapist, like the 10 who work at Ashland's Siskiyou Massage, can come in handy. A good "rub down," as massage used to be called, will calm the nervous system, stimulate injured tissue to heal, reduce inflammation, widen range of motion, relax muscle spasms and improve breathing and posture.
While 95 percent of people who walk into Siskiyou Massage on Fourth Street do so because they got hurt or went into muscle spasms, many people — especially professional athletes, dancers and such — soon learn it's cheaper and less painful to just schedule a massage every month, says clinic director Philip Whitmore.
"The biggest benefit is prevention," he says, noting that in vehicle accidents, the damage happens more to the muscles that are tense and therefore inflexible.
In the old days, before all our labor-saving machines, people were in shape from walking, chopping wood, doing laundry, dancing and all the rest, he says. Today we're hunched over laptops, steering wheels and plates of food — and that weakens muscles and pulls them out of place, especially the neck and lower back.
Doing massage on client Paul Grilley, who suffered shoulder injuries in a jiu-jitsu workout, Whitmore explains how he's "stimulating the tissue response" by stretching Grilley's neck fascia.
When you push on it, says Grilley, a yoga author and instructor, it pushes back, becomes more toned and improves posture.