Stiff shoulders? Aching back? In a time of high gas prices, a shaky economy, and political rancor, it’s no wonder that many of us are feeling a bit stressed lately. Add the usual aches and pains that come along with age, arthritis, sports injuries and the strain of hunching over a computer all day, and the result is a body crying out for a therapeutic massage.

A therapeutic massage is a great way to pamper your body and spirit and you don’t even have to spend a days paycheck at your local spa to get one. Moyer Total Wellness provides therapeutic massages by licensed massage therapists at an affordable rate.  Only $49.99 for new clients and $40 for members. (Reg price of a one hour massage is $59)

Massage feels good, of course, but it also does a body good. According to research studies posted on the website of the National Institute of Health’s Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine, massages can improve the immune system, reduce blood pressure and ease neck pain.

“It enhances the immune system by stimulating blood flow and moving lymphocytes,” said Tony Chilelli, a licensed massage therapist who has been practicing in Denver for over 20 years.

“It is relaxing to those who are stressed and some people report they are able to sleep better,” said Sabra, a licensed massage therapist in Denver who has been practicing for nine years.  Among its many benefits, she said, “It improves the pliability of fascia, increases circulation, clears the system of toxins and increases endorphins.”

There are several types of massages, among them Swedish, deep tissues, myofascial and hot stone. In a Swedish massages, the most common type, the therapist applies a series of kneading, circular and sweeping strokes. In a deep tissue massage, the therapist applies a firmer pressure to treat stubborn muscle tension. In a myofascial massage, the therapist concentrates on massaging connective ligaments. In a hot stone massage, the therapist places heated stones on the client’s body to warm and soothe the muscles.

Although hot stone massages are a bit more expensive than standard massages, clients love them. ($15 more)

“It will warm you for about three days,” said Sabra. “My clients have told me ‘my legs feel like rubber.’”

People get massages for various reasons, noted Sabra. They may have arthritis or sports injuries or tension from sitting at a desk for hours a day. However, a therapeutic massage can benefit everyone, not just those with specific aches and pains, the therapists stressed. 

“It’s an investment in your health,” said Sack. 

A monthly massage is optimal for keeping muscles and connective tissue supple, said Shaw, although persons may need one more often. 

Although most insurers do not cover massages, clients can use money in pre-tax health spending accounts to pay for therapeutic massages. In addition, an insurer may cover massage therapy for a person who gets a prescription for therapeutic massage from his or her physician.

It’s important to find a licensed massage therapist. Although anyone can give massages, only someone who has completed a massage therapy course and passed a licensing examination can call himself or herself a massage therapist. A licensed massage therapist will have the initials “LMT” or “CMT” or a license number on his or her business card and advertisements. It’s also helpful to ask the therapist if he or she is experienced in doing the type of massage requested, such as deep tissue, myofascial or pre-natal.