Unveiling the secrets of massage

Jaeleah Settlemier watches intently as Mary Lunsford, a licensed massage technician, demonstrates how to locate the muscles along Jaeleah's father, Jason Settkenuer's shoulder blades.

By Jessica Smith

Staff writer

HERMISTON — Going to get a massage these days doesn't necessarily mean a trip to the spa. There are numerous licensed massage therapists (LMT) in the greater Hermiston area.

Nor is it something that only women go to have done.

But what if the costs are still too high? Or what if you simply do not have the time for yet one more appointment in your busy holiday schedule?

An easy solution might be to learn some basic massage skills yourself, just enough to work on family members and to show them how to work on you.

Mary Lunsford, LMT, taught a class at Good Shepherd Medical Center Thursday for those who wished to learn just that.

Lunsford explained that there are many benefits of massage, which include: stress relief, loosening of muscles, headache relief, improved physical health, promotion of well being, better bone alignment, increased mental health, lower blood pressure, pain relief, and it simply "feels good."

She also explained that there are certain things one needs to be aware of before giving a massage. You don't always need to apply a lot of pressure when giving a massage. You don't just have to use your hands to massage — elbows, knuckles, forearms, and fists can work too.

And finally you can hurt someone, so "you have to be safe," Lunsford noted.

Lunsford says its important to pay attention to the body's signals and know what areas to avoid, such as certain spots on the side of the neck where blood vessels and lymph nodes are located.

Lunsford showed participants easy massage techniques they could use on family members at home, such as the couch exercise in which a person uses their forearms and leans carefully onto the shoulders of another person.

Among the participants at Thursday's clinic was Jason Settlemier and his fourth-grade daughter, Jaeleah.

After having the couch exercise applied to her, Jaeleah rolled her head forward with a smiled saying that it felt good.

That trick wasn't the only simple and easy one Lunsford showed the participants. Some exercises required a person stretching out on the floor while the the "massager" uses constant pressure to convince a muscle that it was being stretched and to relax.

"Muscles respond to heat and cold, rhythm, and pressure," said Lunsford, who demonstrated short karate like chops can be used on certain muscles to trick the muscle into relaxing.

"You want that ?hurt good' feeling," she warned, "not that ?ouch hurt' feeling."

The family massage class is offered periodically at the hospital.

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