Alternative Ways to Improve Health

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a division of the National Institutes of Health, is dedicated to research and releasing the latest information to the public on nontraditional health approaches and their documented health benefits. Some of the nontraditional methods include massage therapy, acupuncture, yoga, reiki, tai chi, and personal training.

Massage therapy dates back thousands of years in China, Japan, India, and Egypt, and involves work on muscle and other soft tissue. Swedish massage uses long strokes, kneading, deep, circular movements, vibration, and tapping. Sports massage combines techniques of Swedish massage and deep-tissue massage to release chronic muscle tension. Myofascial trigger point therapy uses pressure on trigger points to relieve pain and improve mobility.

Acupuncture traces its origin to ancient China and is a technique in which practitioners stimulate specific points on the body—most often by inserting thin needles through the skin. It is a common practice in traditional Chinese medicine.

Yoga is an ancient and complex practice, rooted in Indian philosophy, that originated several thousand years ago. Although classic yoga also includes other elements, yoga as practiced in the U.S. typically emphasizes physical postures (asanas), breathing techniques (pranayama), and meditation (dyana). Popular yoga styles, such as iyengar, bikram, and hatha yoga, focus on these elements. Several traditional yoga styles encourage daily practice with periodic days of rest, whereas others encourage individuals to develop schedules that fit their needs.

Reiki is a complementary health approach in which practitioners place their hands lightly on or just above a person, with the goal of directing energy to help facilitate the person’s own healing response.

Tai chi is a centuries-old mind-and-body practice. It involves certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. The movements can be adapted or practiced while walking, standing, or sitting.

The popular concept of personal training is the image of a “drill sergeant” who provides motivation throughout an intense physical workout. In today’s world, these practitioners are continuously evolving in their field of expertise and are a valuable help in improving a person’s ability to meet the needs relating to daily living activities.

Steve Gorman is the enrichment center administrator at SourcePoint.  This article was also published in the Spring 2019 My Communicator.