AS A LICENSED MASSAGE THERAPIST, RETIRED U.S. ARMY STAFF SGT. EDUARDO DURAN JR. HELPS SERVICEMEMBERS WORK THROUGH THEIR STRESSORS BY CONNECTING THEIR MINDS BACK TO THEIR BODIES THROUGH MASSAGE.
“Massage therapy can allow a person who has been in a traumatic experience…to regain control of their environment and regain control of their feeling as they’re being touched by somebody else,” Duran said. “That person is given the opportunity to control the pace and location of the touch, and by gaining that control, it’s one more tool in their mind, body, and spirit to be able to trust in themselves and possibly others. Massage can be part of a tool to help a person reach a level of mental health that is improving the quality of their life.”
In 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced the release of the Whole Health System, a personalized health plan that considers the mental, spiritual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of veterans. The program provides alternative therapies such as art therapy, battlefield acupuncture, tai chi, yoga, and massage therapy to give veterans strategies and tools to cope.
For individuals suffering from a traumatic experience, Duran emphasized the importance of receiving massage therapy in conjunction with psychotherapy, behavioral, or cognitive therapy.
According to Duran, massage therapy can be a double-edged sword for post-traumatic stress victims if they are not also seeking outside help for their significant emotional or physical trauma.
“It’s so important that if there is massage therapy introduced to someone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) brought forth by combat or sexual assault or just a random act of violence, it needs to be at the proper time in order to establish a sense of trust,” said Duran. “The person who’s receiving the massage needs to feel safe and in control. My best recommendation to anybody who is suffering from PTSD…is to take your time and add massage therapy at the proper time.”
As someone who suffers from PTSD, Duran discovered the positive benefits of massage therapy after a friend recommended it to help him focus and engage in positive thinking.
“I kept looking for different ways to feel better,” Duran said. “I tried mixed martial arts. I tried acupuncture. I’ve tried chiropractors. But what kept me searching was that every time I tried something, I was subconsciously taking bits and pieces of control back into my life. Out of all the chaos that my brain was going through, all the noise in my head, I had moments where I could actually stop it and have silence, even for just a moment.”
Now Duran wants to help servicemembers who may be struggling with the same things he is by introducing them to the healing touch of massage therapy.
This article was based on an original story by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Dubois.