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The Healing Power of Touch

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For Taming Stress: Massage Therapy continued...

For 27-year-old Gena Gilas of Denver, massage put an end to migraines. Her job as a trainer for an insurance company requires hours at a computer or on her feet, sometimes dealing with upset customers. She would get daily headaches so piercing, “they made it hard to see,” Gilas says. Prescription medicines didn’t help. Then one day her company brought in a massage therapist who offered chair massages. The therapist “worked on relaxing the tense muscles in my neck and shoulders, which relieved the pressure that caused the headaches,” Gilas says. Her headache stopped that night, and she didn’t get another one for many days. Now she gets a chair massage at work every two weeks and a full body massage every month or so as a preventive measure.

To find a massage therapist, log on to the Websites of the American Massage Therapy Association (amtamassage.org) or the Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals (massagetherapy.com). “More and more doctors are prescribing therapeutic massage as part of their medical treatment, as research shows it has positive health benefits,” says Marilyn Kier, a Northfield, IL, specialist in orthopedic massage. The cost is anywhere from $60 to $150 or more per session, and fortunately “some insurance companies are starting to cover it if it’s prescribed by a doctor for a medical reason,” adds Kier. If it’s not and you can’t afford the hefty price tag, massage-therapy schools may offer discounted prices. Find one at naturalhealers.com.

For Treating Your Illness or Injury: Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

What it is: An osteopathic physician (also known as a doctor of osteopathic medicine, or D.O.) relies on her hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness and injury. The D.O. moves muscles and joints with stretching, gentle pressure, and resistance (where the doctor applies pressure to a joint or tissue, then asks the patient to press that part of the body against his hand). Unlike other forms of bodywork, such as chiropractic therapy, which focuses on the relationship between the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) treats the whole body by stimulating nerve centers to improve health and blood circulation.

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