Kick Butts! How Massage Helps with Smoking Cessation
The American Cancer Society marks the Great American Smokeout on the third Thursday of November each year by encouraging smokers to use that date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By quitting – even for one day – smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.
In the early stages of smoking cessation, people often experience an uncomfortable gap between their body and mind. Therapeutic massage can bridge that gap, and is a powerful adjunct treatment in the process of quitting nicotine.
Integrating massage into a smoking cessation program is advantageous in all stages of overcoming nicotine addiction: withdrawal, detoxification and abstinence. Medical researcher Norman S. Miller notes that medical management of cessation often is not sufficient to produce sustained abstinence from recurrent use.
Massage treatment reduces the tendency to relapse. Massage is crucial initially, as it effectively helps the person get through this most vulnerable phase of quitting. This can be a powerful – even life-changing – experience for clients, as it helps them feel good while remaining nicotine-free.
On a physical level, the enhanced circulation that results from massage also helps during detox. Increased blood and lymphatic flow promotes an efficient exchange of oxygen and nutrients into the body’s tissues, and the removal of toxins and metabolic waste products, including nicotine and the other toxins contained in tobacco products.
On an emotional level, part of a smoker’s recovery process is learning to identify and manage the feelings and situations that trigger tobacco use. Regular massage sessions can aid the client’s awareness of the stressors that cause body tension and trigger the urge to smoke. Being conscious of these patterns is a step toward recognizing and healthfully addressing emotions associated with cravings. Emotional release can commonly occur with massage, providing a safe, non-threatening way to manage stress and emotions without the aid of nicotine.
Massage has the unique ability to affect all levels of our being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. As a valuable component when integrated into addiction treatment, massage helps smokers succeed in quitting smoking.