When people hear “massage” they either think of an overpriced spa or the kind that comes with a happy ending. You may be surprised to learn that you can find affordable massage therapy without visiting the red light district. I did just that and am very pleased with the results.

I was in a car accident several years ago and my neck never fully healed. Every year or two I’d spring for a pricey spa massage, which helped, but it always left me wanting more. This year, I received a spa gift certificate, but I wanted a facial, too. So, I booked myself two appointments – one at a spa where I used the gift certificate for an expensive facial, and a second at an affordable massage center I drive past every day, but had never visited. It changed my life. I didn’t suffer neck pain for months after that first visit. When I did have a sudden spasm, I returned to the same therapist and he worked it right out. I now plan to visit every three months or so. Being pain free is worth $240 a year.

The Benefits of Massage Therapy
Most people are familiar with some of the benefits of massage therapy – such as the instant relaxation – but there are actually many more health benefits than most people realize. Massage is known to:

  • Improve circulation and flexibility
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Release tension in the neck and shoulders (especially common with desk workers)
  • Shorten the duration of labor (if you have pregnancy massage)
  • Shorten injury recovery time
  • Boost the immune system (because it activates the lymph glands)
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce symptoms of depression

If you’re always busy like me, a massage also provides much-needed quiet time. I lay there, listening to the music, and let my mind drift. I walk away mentally and physically refreshed.

How to Find Affordable Massage Therapy
You can Google for affordable massage therapy, but there’s an even easier way to find it: just keep your eyes open. Look for signs that say “Massage Therapy $39″ or something similar in mini-malls in the nicer parts of town. There are at least two chains of affordable massage therapy chains operating in the Los Angeles area. Smaller cities have them. My mom reports seeing them in her suburb.

If you don’t see one while out and about, I recommend looking at Yelp. Enter “massage” and your zip code. When you’re offered options to refine your search, click the single dollar sign box. That will list the affordable options in your area, and the reviews will help you make a final decision.

Why Are They Affordable?
These centers keep costs down by reducing the frills. My place doesn’t have a locker room or shower. You just change in the massage room and go home to shower. They also don’t have a luxurious waiting room or a large product line to sell.

Once you’re in the massage room, nothing is different. The therapist has the same training as a spa therapist. They’re usually paid the same amount per massage, too. The massage table is just as comfortable, the music is the same, and the lighting is equally dim. I usually tip the same amount I would for a spa massage, because I’m receiving the same service, but it’s still affordable.

The only difference I’ve seen is a longer massage. Rather than the 50-minute hour most spas offer, a 60-minute massage at my center is 60 minutes.

My massage center charges $39 for a regular massage and $49 for a deep tissue massage. At those prices, can you afford not to get one? True, it’s not “cheap,” but it’s certainly more frugal than waiting until your pain, stress, or tension develops into a problem requiring medical care.

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