For some people, getting a massage is a luxury, one that is often reserved for special occasions. For others, it’s an important part of routine health and well-being. And yet, to others, the idea of lying on a massage table is a “no thank you” proposition!

Massage therapy is a professional health care discipline. It’s based in ancient traditions (over 3,000 years old!) and has many physiological and general wellness benefits. In the health care setting, it’s provided by qualified professional Massage Therapists and is often used as a part of a pain management strategy. It can also be adapted for general well-being.

Dr. Sharon Weinstein, chief of holistic medicine at the Salt Lake City VAMC, offers a 20-minute self-care head and neck massage video that you can use over and over to help you relax.

But before you get started, here are a few tips and precautions:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly before and after practice.
  • Remove jewelry (such as watch, rings, bracelet, earrings, necklace).
  • Loosen restrictive clothing.
  • Be in comfortable position.
  • Remove environmental distractions, like your phone or computer, except for the screen you are following along with.
  • You may wish to play soothing background sound or music.
  • Have drinking water available.
  • Avoid massage to any areas of swelling, redness, rash, or broken skin.
  • If you have a bleeding disorder condition or take medication to thin your blood, use light pressure.

More info

Self-care is an important part of your health and well-being and is not something you have to figure out on your own. Whole Health can offer you the support you need to get started. Explore the Circle of Health to find the self-care resources you need for a healthier life: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/circle-of-health/index.asp

For more information on Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) approaches in VA visit: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/professional-resources/clinician-tools/cih.asp


Sharon M. Weinstein, MD, MT, FAAHPM is the VA national lead for Massage Therapy with the Integrative Health Coordinating Center, Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation. She practices Integrative Pain and Supportive Care Medicine & Complementary Integrative Health at the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System and is a professor at the University of Utah School of Medicine. 

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