Research in Massage Therapy
An increasing number of research studies show massage reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion, and increases endorphins (enhancing medical treatment).
Although therapeutic massage does not increase muscle strength, it can stimulate weak, inactive muscles and, thus, partially compensate for the lack of exercise and inactivity resulting from illness or injury. It also can hasten and lead to a more complete recovery from exercise or injury.
Here are some reported benefits of massage: Medical school students at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School who were massaged before an exam showed a significant decrease in anxiety and respiratory rates, as well as a significant increase in white blood cells and natural killer cell activity, suggesting a benefit to the immune system. Preliminary results suggested cancer patients had less pain and anxiety after receiving therapeutic massage at the James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Women who had experienced the recent death of a child were less depressed after receiving therapeutic massage, according to preliminary results of a study at the University of South Carolina. Studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found massage beneficial in improving weight gain in HIV-exposed infants and facilitating recovery in patients who underwent abdominal surgery.
At the University of Miami School of Medicine's Touch Research Institute, researchers have found that massage is helpful in decreasing blood pressure in people with hypertension, alleviating pain in migraine sufferers and improving alertness and performance in office workers. Research has verified that:
•Office workers massaged regularly were more alert, performed better and were less stressed than those who weren't massaged.
•Massage therapy decreased the effects of anxiety, tension, depression, pain, and itching in burn patients. •Abdominal surgery patients recovered more quickly after massage.
•Premature infants who were massaged gained more weight and fared better than those who weren't. •Autistic children showed less erratic behavior after massage therapy.
According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage helps both physically and mentally. "Often times people are stressed in our culture. Stress-related disorders make up between 80 and 90 percent of the ailments that bring people to family-practice physicians. What they require is someone to listen, someone to touch them, someone to care.
That does not exist in modern medicine. "One of the complaints heard frequently is that physicians don't touch their patients any more. Touch just isn't there. Years ago massage was a big part of nursing. There was so much care, so much touch, so much goodness conveyed through massage. Now nurses for the most part are as busy as physicians. They're writing charts, dealing with insurance notes, they're doing procedures and often there is no room for massage any more. "I believe massage therapy is absolutely key in the healing process not only in the hospital environment but because it relieves stress; it is obviously foundational in the healing process any time and anywhere." --Joan Borysenko - Massage Journal Interview, Fall 1999 Physical Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
•Helps relieve stress and aids relaxation
•Helps relieve muscle tension and stiffness
•Alleviates discomfort during pregnancy
•Fosters faster healing of strained muscles and sprained ligaments; reduces pain and swelling; reduces formation of excessive scar tissue
•Reduces muscle spasms
•Provides greater joint flexibility and range of motion
•Enhances athletic performance; Treats injuries caused during sport or work
•Promotes deeper and easier breathing •Improves circulation of blood and movement of lymph fluids
•Reduces blood pressure
•Helps relieve tension-related headaches and effects of eye-strain
•Enhances the health and nourishment of skin
•Strengthens the immune system
•Treats musculoskeletal problems
•Rehabilitation post operative
•Rehabilitation after injury Mental Benefits of Massage Therapy
•Fosters peace of mind
•Promotes a relaxed state of mental alertness
•Helps relieve mental stress
•Improves ability to monitor stress signals and respond appropriately
•Enhances capacity for calm thinking and creativity
•Satisfies needs for caring, nurturing touch
•Fosters a feeling of well-being
•Reduces levels of anxiety
•Creates body awareness
•Increases awareness of mind-body connection,