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    Teen Girls' Health

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    Try a Healing Touch Massage

    To unwind the stress of teenage years, try a Swedish, deep tissue or Shiatsu massage.

    What Are the Benefits of Healing Touch Massage?

    Massage eases pent-up tension and increases blood flow to the area. Massage also stimulates the flow of lymph, a bodily fluid that carries wastes and impurities away from tissues. Experts believe that massage boosts endorphins and enkephalins. These special chemicals in the brain act like natural painkillers. After massage, stress hormones like cortisol are reduced. A positive change in T-cells -- immune system cells vital to protect against infection -- also occurs. Massage therapy may also trigger serotonin, another brain chemical that helps you to feel calm.

    "Getting a massage is a great way to relieve stress and to help you cope with the pressures you face as a teen. It can help you to relax, and also make you more alert," says James Vaughn, an Atlanta-based certified neuromuscular therapist.

    Vaughn recommends getting a message before or during exam time or even before the big game. "Massage is especially beneficial for young athletes, as it helps you recover faster from a hard workout by increasing circulation and relieving pain and soreness."

    Try a Self-Massage

    1. Take a few drops of your favorite aromatherapy skin oil in your hand. Gently touch the back of your neck, about two inches below the hairline. Using your fingertips, gently rub the oil into the skin.
    2. As you make contact with the skin, use a circular motion with your fingertips, gently moving up and down the neck.
    3. Work outward down the side of the neck to your shoulders, continuing the gentle circular motion.
    4. Squeeze your shoulders with your hand, one at a time, using the opposite hand. Then using long, stroking motions, gently sweep the skin from the neck to the shoulder and down to the elbow.
    5. If you play a lot of video games or use the computer for hours a day, gently massage your wrists and thumbs to release tension and increase relaxation.
    6. Before bed, rub moisturizing lotion on your feet. Knead the instep, toes, heel and sole of each foot until the lotion is absorbed.

    Take a Friend

    You may be a little nervous about getting a massage for the first time. Vaughn suggests taking a parent or friend with you. "Also, you need to find a massage therapist you'll feel comfortable with, so ask your doctor, friends, or family members for recommendations. You can make an appointment through a reputable spa, massage school or clinic." To check licensing credentials for individual massage therapists, go to the American Massage Therapy Association's web site at http://www.amtamassage.org/.

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    Reviewed on June 01, 2007

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