Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Enhanced sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improved concentration.
- Increased circulation.
- Reduced fatigue.
Massage can also help specifically address a number of health issues. Bodywork can:
- Assist with shorter, easier labor for expectant mothers and shorten maternity hospital stays.
- Ease medication dependence.
- Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body's natural defense system.
- Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
- Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
- Improve the condition of the body's largest organ—the skin.
- Increase joint flexibility.
- Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
- Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
- Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
- Reduce spasms and cramping.
- Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
- Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body's natural painkiller.
Chronic low-back pain
Massage is an effective treatment for chronic low back pain, according to a research study conducted by the Center for Health Studies in Seattle, Washington. In a comparison of massage, acupuncture and self-care, a 10-week program of massage therapy was found to be most effective of the three.
In another study, adults with chronic low-back pain found relief from massage therapy, according to a research study conducted by the Touch Research Institute in conjunction with the University of Miami School of Medicine.
wenty-four adults who had experienced low-back pain for at least six months were assigned to receive 30-minute massages twice-weekly, for five weeks. Results showed a decrease in stress and long-term pain, fewer depressive symptoms, better sleep, improved range of motion and an increase in serotonin and dopamine levels.
In 2005, 34,000 readers responded to a Consumers reports survey and compared their experiences with conventional and alternative treatments. Those with arthritis gave to the highest marks to hands-on practices such as massage and chiropractic, saying these therapies frequently relieved their pain better than conventional remedies. The respondents with osteoarthritis indicated that deep tissue massage is particularly effective for pain relief.
The Consumer Reports survey also noted that medical doctors are increasingly likely to accept deep-tissue massage for musculoskeletal ailments and to recommend massage to their patients.
Anxiety & Depression
A recent review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami school of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry.
In a series of studies including 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.)
Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.
According to a recent study conducted by the Boulder College of Massage Therapy in Boulder, Colorado, Four people who had experienced two to three headaches per week for the past six years or more participated in the study, which lasted eight weeks. During the first four weeks, baseline headache measures were recorded. Throughout the last four weeks, participants received two 30-minute massages per week.
Each subject experienced a reduction in headaches within the first week of massage treatment, and the mean number of headaches per week was significantly reduced from 6.8 to 2 during the four weeks of massage.
Soft-tissue massage improved range of motion, reduced pain and improved function in people with shoulder pain, according to a research study by staff at Concord Hospital in Sydney, Australia
Twenty-nine subjects who had been referred to the Concord hospital for management of shoulder pain participated in the study. Their medical diagnoses varied, but impingement, rotator-cuff tear and unspecified shoulder pain were the most common diagnoses.
Fourteen of the participants received no massage, while the other fifteen received six sessions of soft-tissue massage around the shoulder for two weeks.
Subjects in the control group showed no significant improvements from the beginning to the end of the two-week period. Subjects in the massage group showed significant improvements in all measures, with a mean improvement of 22.6 degrees in flexion; 42.2 degrees in abduction; and the ability to reach a mean of 11 centimeters further up the back. Subjects in the massage group also reported decreased pain and improved function.
How chair massage can help:
Chair Massage has been proven to help reduce stress and increase productivity in the work place.
Studies by the Touch Research Institute in Florida show that the benefits of seated massage have quick results. Immediately after massage sessions, the subjects experienced a change in brain waves in the direction of heightened alertness and better performance on math problems (completed in less time with fewer errors). At the end of the five-week study period, subjects reported reduced job stress and elevated moods. The study’s findings are significant in that the International Labor Organization stated in its World Labor Report that job stress costs the U.S. economy $200 billion annually through diminished productivity, compensation claims, absenteeism, health insurance and direct medical expenses