Holistic Massage School Reveals Research Study Findings on the Benefits of Massage

“One of the most frequently asked questions of faculty at Healing Hands School of Holistic Health is; What exactly are the latest research findings on the benefits of massage” said Founding Director, Ms. Paula Curtiss.  “To answer their questions, I often refer them to The University of Miami School of Medicine’s Touch Research Institute’s (TRI) website – www.miami.edu/touch-research .   TRI has conducted over 100 studies on the positive effects of massage therapy.  Below is a summary of general findings, plus a table describing the impact of massage on patients with specific medical conditions.  As you’ll see, the impact of massage is both undeniable and substantial, two reasons why Massage Therapy is now recognized as an important part of any holistic medical or wellness program,” she added.shutterstock_131745701

General findings by TRI on the benefits of massage include:

  • Enhanced growth in preterm infants
  • Diminished pain (e.g. fibromyalgia)
  • Decreased autoimmune problems (e.g. increased pulmonary function in asthma and decreased glucose levels in diabetes)
  • Enhanced immune function (increased natural killer cells in HIV and Cancer)
  • Enhanced alertness and performance (EEG pattern of alertness and better performance on math computations).
  • Decreased stress hormones (e.g. Cortisol)

Specific findings by TRI on massage benefits for individuals with common ailments include:

 

BACK PAIN

[Cit: Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., & Theakston, H. (2001). Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.]

 

Massage therapy was compared to relaxation for chronic low back pain. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported less pain, depression and anxiety and improved sleep. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.

ANXIETY

[Cit: Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T.,Goncalves, A., Burman, I. , Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.]

 

Adults were given a chair massage, and control group adults were asked to relax in a chair for 15 minutes, two times a week for five weeks. Frontal delta power increased for both groups, suggesting relaxation. The massage group showed decreased alpha and beta power, and increased speed and accuracy on math computations. At the end of the five-week period depression scores were lower for both groups but job stress scores were only, for the massage group.

BLOOD PRESSURE

[Cit: Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J. & Theakston, H.(2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31-38.]

 

High blood pressure is associated with elevated anxiety, stress and stress hormones, hostility, depression and catecholamines. Massage therapy and progressive muscle relaxation were evaluated as treatments for reducing blood pressure and these associated symptoms. Adults who had been diagnosed as hypertensive received ten 30 min massage sessions over five weeks or they were given progressive muscle relaxation instructions (control group). Sitting diastolic blood pressure decreased after the first and last massage therapy sessions and reclining diastolic blood pressure decreased from the first to the last day of the study. Although both groups reported less anxiety, only the massage therapy group reported less depression & hostility and showed decreased cortisol.

DEPRESSION

[Cit: Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Massage and relaxation therapies’ effects on depressed adolescent mothers. Adolescence, 31, 903-911.]

 

32 depressed adolescent mothers received ten 30-minute sessions of massage therapy or relaxation therapy over a five-week period. Subjects were randomly assigned to each group. Although both groups reported lower anxiety following their first and final sessions, although only the massage therapy group showed behavioral and stress hormone changes, including a decrease in anxious behavior, heart rate and cortisol levels.

FIBROMYALGIA

Sunshine, W., Field, T.M., Quintino, O., Fierro, K., [Cit: Kuhn, C., Burman, I. & Schanberg, S. (1996). Fibromyalgia benefits from massage therapy and transcutaneous electrical stimulation. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 2, 18-22.]

Adult fibromyalgia syndrome subjects were randomly assigned to a massage therapy, a transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), or a transcutaneous electrical stimulation no-current group for 30-minute treatment sessions two times per week for 5 weeks. The massage therapy subjects reported lower anxiety and depression, and their cortisol levels were lower immediately after the therapy sessions on the first and last days of the study. The TENS group showed similar changes, but only after therapy on the last day of the study.

LABOR PAIN

[Cit: Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Taylor , S., Quintino, O., & Burman, I. (1997). Labor pain is reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology, 18, 286-291.]

28 women were recruited from prenatal classes and randomly assigned to receive massage in addition to coaching in breathing from their partners during labor, or to receive coaching in breathing alone. The massaged mothers reported a decrease in depressed mood, anxiety and pain, and showed less agitated activity and anxiety and more positive affect following the first massage during labor. In addition the massaged mothers had shorter labors, a shorter hospital stay and less postpartum depression.

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