This article is about the scientifically proven benefits of massage therapy.
Massage therapy exists since ancient times, some of the first historical traces date back to 2700 BCE ! Today we use massage as an effective method to aleviate physcial symptoms and to improve our mental health. Let’s look at some of the most common benefits of massage. Following are clinical study examples taken from the scientific litterature. We begin with pain relief: muscle pain, back pain, headaches, migraine.
- Muscle pain is relieved by increasing the blood circulation in your body. Zainuddin et al (2005) study shows reduction of muscle pain and soreness after a massage.
- Back pain – Massage has been found to be effective in reducing chronic back pain (Cherkin et al 2003). The same study found no evidence of the benefits of acupuncture or chiropractice, but they confirmed the importance of massage therapy.
- Headache / Migraine – massage is not a magic tool but it feels like it! It helps instantly with tension in the neck and shoulders, it lessens the intensity of migraine and helps you relax on a deeper level, so you can contiue with your life. Hernandez-reif et al (1998) made an experiment with 30 min massage sessions, twice a week for 5 weeks. The results show decrease in the intensity of pain & participants reported that “pain was immediately alleviated by massage therapy” (Hernandez-reif et al 1998, p.9).
- Anxiety, Depression – Massage decreases significantly the stress levels and improves our mood. People report being less angry, less anxious and happier after a massage. Field et al (1996) reported lower anxiety levels in patients following massage therapy.
- Sleep / Insomnia – massage help both healthy clients to improve their sleep pattern, as well as it relaxes and helps the patients suffering from chronic illness who can’t restfully sleep. Regular massage, at least once every 3-4 weeks provide maintanence of these positive outcomes. Hachul et al (2014) found “significant decrease in depression, insomnia and increased quality of life” (Hachul et al, 2014, p.2).
- Immune system – when you take good care of your body regularly, you become less prone to flu and viruses. Good sleep, rest, exercise, diet, aromatherapy & massage are vital to our wellbeing! Studies have shown the increase of white blood cells following massage therapy, hence the body strenghtens it’s immune system and fight back diseases. Thomas et al (2007) researched the benefits of 45 min weekly full body massage. The results revealed changes in lymphocites levels and determined that massage therapy + stress management is most beneficial!
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Deyo RA, et al. A Review of the Evidence for the Effectiveness, Safety, and Cost of Acupuncture, Massage Therapy, and Spinal Manipulation for Back Pain. Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:898–906. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-11-200306030-00011
H. Hachul, D.S. Oliveira, L.R.A. Bittencourt, M.L. Andersen, S. TufikSleep Sci. 2014 Jun; The beneficial effects of massage therapy for insomnia in postmenopausal women. 7(2): 114–116. Published online 2014 Sep 16. doi: 10.1016/j.slsci.2014.09.005
Maria Hernandez-reif, John Dieter, Tiffany Field, Bernard Swerdlow & Miguel Diego (1998) Migraine Headaches are Reduced by Massage Therapy, International Journal of Neuroscience, 96:1-2, 1-11, DOI: 10.3109/00207459808986453
Thomas J. Birk, Angele McGrady, Rodger D. MacArthur, and Sadik Khuder. (2007). The Effects of Massage Therapy Alone and in Combination with Other Complementary Therapies on Immune System Measures and Quality of Life in Human Immunodeficiency Virus. doi.org/10.1089/acm.2000.6.405
Tiffany Field, Gail Ironson, Frank Scafidi, Tom Nawrocki, Alex Goncalves, Iris Burman, Jeff Pickens, Nathan Fox, Saul Schanberg & Cynthia Kuhn (1996) Massage Therapy Reduces Anxiety and Enhances Eeg Pattern of Alertness and Math Computations, International Journal of Neuroscience, 86:3-4, 197-205, DOI: 10.3109/00207459608986710
Zainuddin, Z., Newton, M., Sacco, P., & Nosaka, K. (2005). Effects of massage on delayed-onset muscle soreness, swelling, and recovery of muscle function. Journal of athletic training, 40(3), 174–180.