Benefits of Massage

No doubt you’ve heard that massage therapy can benefit your physical, mental and emotional health. After all, something that feels so good has to be good for you, right? But the positive effects of massage on our long-term health are rooted in real science. From reduced blood pressure, to headache relief, to decreased depression and anxiety, numerous scientific studies have found evidence of the physical and mental benefits of massage.

Reduce Stress

STUDY:Massage Therapy in Management of Occupational Stress in Emergency Medical Services Staffs: a Randomized Controlled Trial

Mahdizadeh, M. Jaberi, A.A., Bonabi, T.N. (2019). International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork. 2019 Mar; 12(1): 16–22.

METHODS: In this randomized controlled trial, a total of 58 EMS staff were selected from prehospital EMS stations and randomly assigned to two groups (29 in massage and 29 in control group). The intervention group received Swedish massage, twice a week for four weeks in the morning after the end of the work shift. Each massage session lasted 20–25 minutes. Subjects in the control group received no intervention. The level of occupational stress of the two groups was measured under the same conditions before and after the intervention by using the expanded nurses’ occupational stress scale (ENSS).

RESULTS: The data showed that there was a significant effect of massage on EMS staff’s occupational stress level after controlling for pretest score.

Decrease Anxiety & Agitation

STUDY:Massage therapy for the treatment of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Shu-Cheng Chen, et. al. (2019). Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2019 Feb. (42): 389–399.

METHODS: A systematic review of 8 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 3 case series studies was conducted with a meta-analysis of 4 of the RCTs.

RESULTS: Pooled analysis showed that massage produced more improvement in ADHD symptoms in terms of effective rate compared to Ritalin. Individual RCTs suggested that massage was differed significantly from waitlist control in improving the conditions of anxious-passive and asocial behavior.

Induce Relaxation & Improve Motor Function

STUDY:Massage therapy as a complementary treatment for Parkinson’s disease: A Systematic Literature Review

Angelopoulou, E., Anagnostoulia, M., Chrousos, G.C., Bougea, A. (2020). Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2020 March (49): 102340

METHODS: A systematic search was conducted in the MEDLINE database to identify the efficacy of massage on PD between 01/01/1970 and 06/12/2019.

RESULTS: A total of 12 studies were analyzed in this systematic review. Massage therapy seems to induce relaxation in most cases, which is accompanied by biological measures involving urine stress hormones. Quality of life has been shown to be improved upon various therapeutic massage styles, involving classical whole-body therapeutic massage and reflexology. Non-motor symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, pain, fatigue, anxiety and depressive symptoms have been demonstrated to be improved upon different massage techniques.

Reduce Side Effects of Chemotherapy

STUDY:Effect of Foot Massage on Patients with Chemotherapy Induced Nausea and Vomiting: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Cluny, A.; Kumari, J.M.; and Biswajit, D. (2020). Journal of Caring Sciences, 2020 Aug; 9(3): 120–124.

METHODS: A randomized clinical trial study was used to assess the effect of foot massage on patients with chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting among patients undergoing highly emetogenic (nausea-inducing) chemotherapy. Simple random sampling by the lottery method was used to select newly diagnosed cancer patients who underwent highly emetogenic chemotherapy. Rhodes index of nausea, vomiting and retching questionnaire were used for data collection.

RESULTS: Nausea, vomiting and retching were significantly reduced in the experimental group compared to the control group after the intervention (foot massage). There was a significant difference between pre-intervention and post-intervention scores within the group.

Reduce Pain & Increase Range of Motion

STUDY:Using Pressure Massage for Achilles Tendinopathy: A Single-Blind, Randomized Controlled Trial Comparing a Novel Treatment Versus an Eccentric Exercise Protocol

Stefan H. Stefansson, BSc, et. al. (2019). Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine, 2019 March; 7(3).

METHODS: A total of 60 patients with Achilles tendinopathy (inflamed ankle tendon) were randomized into 3 groups: group 1 underwent an eccentric exercise protocol, group 2 underwent pressure massage, and group 3 underwent pressure massage and the eccentric exercise protocol. Patients were evaluated with the Icelandic version of the Victorian Institute of Sports Assessment–Achilles questionnaire (VISA-A-IS). Measurements for the VISA-A-IS, pressure pain threshold and ankle range of motion (ROM) were taken at 0, 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks.

RESULTS: All groups improved when evaluated with the VISA-A-IS. The pressure massage group improved significantly more than the eccentric exercise group at week 4, which was the only between-group difference. Ankle ROM increased significantly over time, but no significant difference was found between groups.

Help Manage Type II Diabetes Symptoms

STUDY:The feasibility of Chinese massage as an auxiliary way of replacing or reducing drugs in the clinical treatment of adult type 2 diabetes

Cao, D., Liu, M., Yan M., Zhang, X. (2020). Medicine (Baltimore), 99(34), e21894.

METHODS: A total of 769 subjects were included in 10 studies for meta-analysis. Researchers collected all relevant studies published prior to November 2019 and compared the results of traditional Chinese massage on type II diabetes symptom indicators such as fasting blood glucose, 2-hour fasting blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin and insulin index. Traditional Chinese massage includes techniques such as kneading, rolling and acupressure delivered by hand.

RESULTS: Compared with metformin hydrochloride tablets (a common treatment for diabetes used in tandem with insulin), Chinese massage plus baseline treatment (insulin therapy) can reduce fasting plasma glucose, two-hour fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin and fasting insulin levels. Chinese massage combined with a metformin hydrochloride tablet has a synergistic effect: Not only can it be used as an auxiliary treatment of type II diabetes, but it also enables patients to reduce their drug treatments (with their physician’s approval), improving clinical efficacy and reducing adverse reactions.

Decrease Symptoms of Depression

STUDY:Effects of Psychoactive Massage in Outpatients with Depressive Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Mixed-Methods Study

Arnold, M.M., Bönsch, D., Hemrich, N., Müller-Oerlinghausen, B. (2020). Brain Science, 2020 Sept; 10(10): 676.

METHODS: Patients suffering from clinician-diagnosed depressive disorders were divided into 2 groups: control and intervention. The intervention group received 4 weekly treatments of a standardized massage technique. Patients in the control group received 4 applications of a standardized progressive muscle relaxation technique, but no massage. Before and immediately after completing the study, patients were assessed by an external blind rater. A visual analogue scale was used for self-assessment, which was filled in by the patients before and after each treatment.

RESULTS: When assessed according to the Hamilton Depression Scale, patients who received a 1-hour massage saw a significant decrease in the severity of their symptoms compared to those who received the progressive muscle relaxation therapy.

Lower Blood Pressure

STUDY:Long-term effect of massage therapy on blood pressure in prehypertensive women

Givi, M., et. al. (2018). Journal of Education & Health Promotion. 2018; 7(54).

METHODS: This was a single-blind clinical trial study conducted on 50 prehypertensive women during 6 months. Participants were selected by simple random sampling and were divided into control and intervention groups. The test group (25 patients) received massage for 10–15 min, 3 times a week for 10 sessions, and the control group (25 patients) was relaxed in the same environment but with no massage. Their blood pressure was measured before and after each session, then 72 hours and 2 weeks after finishing the massage therapy.

RESULTS: The results indicated that the mean systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure in the massage group were significantly lower in comparison with the control group. Evaluation of durability of the massage effects on blood pressure also indicated that 72 hours after finishing the study, there was still a significant difference between the test and control groups, but after 2 weeks, there was not a significant difference between the two groups.