Many things spring to mind when talking about a healthy lifestyle: lots of greens, regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep. But there are many other subtle aspects, like having a strong social support network, making time for creative pursuits and getting enough healthy touch.
Imperative for development in children, having that physical contact with others is something that adults need too, says Devon Jones, a registered massage therapist and owner of Touch of Wellness clinic in Brentwood Bay.
“Missing that healthy touch is a really sad thing. Babies who don’t get enough touch can actually be diagnosed with failure to thrive, and it impacts adults too,” she says.
Jones has a unique perspective on the importance of touch; massage and bodywork were an integral part of her therapy when she was diagnosed with leukemia in late 2012, and she says that contact can be incredibly healing for those going through health crises.
“From before I got sick and even more so now, a lot of people gravitate toward me who have dealt with cancer,” says Jones. “I think a lot of the time, their family and friends are afraid to touch them, they’re afraid of hurting them.”
Receiving massage and healthy touch, whether it’s just a simple laying on of hands, or deep tissue work, is a huge part of the recovery process, she says.
And it’s just as beneficial for those who aren’t dealing with a serious diagnosis, particularly since nowadays so many people work seated at a desk, often in front of a screen.
“We’re putting ourselves in a compromised position for hours on end. Massage helps to reset those muscles and regain mobility.”
On a more general scale, massage can benefit just about every system in the body.
“It can decrease inflammation and pain, improve mobility, improve circulation, relieve anxiety, improve digestion and overall maintain a healthy body. More than anything, prevention is important.”
It’s important to find a practitioner you feel comfortable with, she adds. Practitioners all have different personalities and approaches to treatment, with different results.
Jones says her aim is to get her clients to a point where they don’t need her anymore.
“My goal isn’t for them to have to come every week for the rest of their lives. My goal is that, eventually, they come because they want to, not because they have to.”