Massage is a healing modality dramatically underutilized. Maybe it’s just hard to imagine that something that feels so good can actually provoke tangible benefits in the body and mind.
There is also the common perception that a massage is an indulgence. Given the current economic climate, the chances of “indulging” in such treatment is even more remote.
The reality is that therapeutic massage provides very real and measurable effects on health that will help us to live happier and healthier life. Moreover, they offer an alternative or synergistic support conventional treatments. The issue of costs can also be managed by strategically using your health insurance and / or engaging in home based, amateur massage with a reliable partner.
One of the most promising areas of research in relation to massage to reduce anxiety levels and improve mood. Several studies published this year provide solid validation for that claim.
- In the May 2009 issue of the journal complementary therapies in Clinical Practice, a study of eight patients with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) have shown that massage therapy, these patients to control anxiety to get. The patients described experienced relaxation of body and mind, a decrease in anxiety and an improvement in confidence.
- A March 2009 study is a model for how we can go home massage to apply to mental health. The parents of 17 young patients with SCD (sickle cell) were trained to perform a nightly massage their children to perform. The parents were provided with basic training and periodic supervision. This practice of massage therapy resulted in some positive changes in SCD children: a decrease in anxiety, depression, pain and a greater ability to function normally.
- Other positive psychological changes often associated with the reduction of anxiety. For example, a Swedish study of seriously ill patients, two important psychological benefits of massage: a) a feeling of “free of disease for a while” and b) deep satisfaction as a result of the perception of “thoughtful attention”.
- Another interesting finding is that these effects may extend beyond the individual being massaged. A recent study by a group of depressed pregnant women who received massage twice a week from their partners (from week 20 and extending until the end of their pregnancy). The women described improvements in the back and leg pain and lower levels of anger, anxiety and depression. What fascinated me most was that the partners also reported an improvement in mood. As a result of the whole of their relationship improved as measured by a “relationship questionnaire”.
- Even brief exposure to massage can instantly transform your internal makeup and mood. This is illustrated in a study conducted at Kyushu University in Japan. 32 healthy women received a 45 minute facial massage. Various tests were administered before and after facial. The volunteers showed a reduction in psychological distress immediately after the massage, indicating a very fast response.
One area of scientific interest is potentially of massage therapy for those receiving conventional treatment of cancer. A new study published in the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine the effects of therapeutic massage investigated in a group of women with breast cancer. The women received a 30 minute massage once a week for three consecutive weeks. A wide range of benefits were reported, including less anxiety, better sleep quality and an improvement in daily functioning and overall quality of life. Some of the volunteers also named fewer cases of nausea and decrease the pain and fear.
These findings are supported by a new scientific research on the use of massage in cancer patients. A total of 14 studies were included in the assessment. The authors concluded that massage may be helpful in relieving fatigue, mood-related topics, nausea and pain. The current state of evidence was considered “encouraging”, but for the moment. (7) The same basic position was presented in a German paper also summarized. It is important to remember that all cancer patients should consult their physician before starting a course of massage therapy. There may be some cases where it is not appropriate.
The issue of pain is common in the study of the science of massage. There is little doubt that massage feels good. But beyond that, it seems that it can help manage long term pain conditions. For example, a recent study conducted on 25 fibromyalgia patients found that “deep tissue” led to significant reduction in pain intensity, “pressure pain threshold” and health-related quality of life. The women in the study received five treatments per week for a period of three weeks.
It is also reassuring to know that different forms of massage seem to be effective. I personally enjoy reflexology, foot massage specific points on the soles of the feet that probably correspond to organs and systems in the body stimulates. In February 2009, a 6-week study has shown that reflexology can help people with (MS) multiple sclerosis benefit in reducing anxiety and stress hormone levels. I also tried shiatsu. A survey of October 2008 followed a group of more than 600 patients shiatsu. The researchers found that nearly 80% of the people involved in regular shiatsu other positive changes in their health-related lifestyle. A 16-22% reduction of conventional medicine and a 15-34% decrease in the use of drugs were also noted.
Finally I would add that giving a massage is really a good work out! It not only strengthens muscles but also helps to be better attuned to the human body and to a certain degree of sensitivity that would not otherwise be achieved.