The Chopra Center, an ayurveda-inspired wellness resort and spa, has added a $215 ayurvedic breast massage to its spa offerings and claims to increase range of motion, reduce pain, flush toxins through the lymphatic system, and increase circulation or prana. In order to receive treatment, women need a referral from a California health professional.
We're all thinking the same thing: Isn't a breast massage inherently erotic or simply something we should do once a month to detect abnormalities early on? According to a representative from the Center, the actual breasts are touched during only 10 percent of the treatment. The remaining time is spent on tissues around and attached the breasts.
Here's the breakdown: The massage starts at the sternum, then moves to the diaphragm, then the areas around the breast like shoulders to increase range of motion. The breasts are next, and last is the neck and head. Massage therapists utilize the Spurgeon-Shulte Method™, a massage technique by Sally Spurgeon, a breast cancer survivor, designed specifically for women who have undergone breast cancer treatment. It focuses on loosening scar tissue, releasing tension, and encouraging drainage and swelling reduction.
The current research on breast massage is largely focused on breastfeeding, so it's tough to back up these claims even though they may be true. Women's health expert Aviva Romm, M.D., said, "Increasing range of motion might be the exception, as massage works through adhesions from past breast surgeries and helps adhesions created by chemo. I recommend breast massage for this purpose in my medical practice for women with a history of breast cancer and mobility issues."
Ultimately, Dr. Romm said there's no harm, no foul, as long as massage treatments aren't replacing yearly mammograms, self-check-ups, and/or proper breast cancer treatment. She also mentioned something we hadn't thought of: "An aggressive massage for someone with breast cancer, if lymph flow actually does increase, could add to seeding remotely," she said. Noted—definitely talk to your doctor to get cleared for a treatment like this. And if $215 sounds like a whole lot to pay for a rubdown, the treatment includes a lesson on daily self-massage, a skill you'll have for life.
With Breast Cancer Awareness Month upon us, take a moment to review this five-step prevention checklist.