What massage actually does for your health.
From headaches, blood flow and chronic pain to premature infants massage therapy has been studied and documented to bring pain relief, health benefits and medically measured results that apply to a wide spectrum of cases.
The list below documents studies conducted around the world on massage and will be updated regularly as medical professionals continue to study and apply massage to their practices.
1. Chronic Low-Back Pain - International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
Clinical Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low-Back Pain
A 63-year-old man reported that chronic low-back pain interferes with his activities of daily living. He received four massages across a twenty-day period and progress was recorded using the Oswestry Low Back Pain Scale.
9 out of 10 measurements of self-reported pain and activities of daily living showed improvement. The only exception is his ability to lift heavy objects. He was also able to decrease his pain medication and able to ride his bicycle for the first time in years.
Allen L. (2016). Case Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low-Back Pain. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, 9, 27–30.
2. Anxiety, depression, and physiological stress - American Massage Therapy Association
Clinical Study: Massage Therapy for Caregivers
When an individual experiences a traumatic injury, most often the family members closely involved in caregiving experience a high level of stress. Caregivers involved completed questionnaires assessing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Participants were then randomized to receive either one massage per week or three massages per week.
Participants who have completed the study provided very positive feedback. Massage represented a novel intervention to promote physical and psychological well-being among these caregivers.
Williams, N. (2017). Case Study: Massage Therapy for Caregivers. American Massage Therapy Association.
3. Shoulder Pain - Journal of Physical Therapy Science
Clinical Study: Effectiveness of massage therapy for shoulder pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
This study performed an effect-size analysis of massage therapy for shoulder pain. The meta-analysis was based on 15 studies, covering a total of 635 participants, and used a random effects model.
The effect size estimate showed that massage therapy had a significant effect on reducing shoulder pain for short-term and long-term efficacy.
Yeun Y. (2017). Effectiveness of massage therapy for shoulder pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(5),936-940.
4. Arthritis in the knee - PLoS One
Clinical Study: Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee
More Americans are turning to massage therapy for medical reasons, including pain relief, soreness and injury. The study involved a total group of 125 subjects, with 25 receiving the 60-minute massage over 8 weeks, while others received less massage or usual care without massage.
Sixty-minute sessions of Swedish massage once a week for those with osteoarthritis of the knee significantly reduced their pain.
Perlman A, Ali A, Njike V, Hom D, Davidi A, Gould-Fogerite S, Milak C, Katz D. (2012). Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS One, 7(2):e30248, doi: 10.1371
5. Migraine headache - International Journal of Therapeutic Massage Bodywork
Clinical Study: Reduction of Current Migraine Headache Pain Following Neck Massage and Spinal Manipulation
Ten male patients with acute onset of a migraine headache according to IHS-2004 diagnostic criteria were enrolled in the study. Neck and upper thoracic spine massage and manipulation technique was performed. Headache pain intensity was assessed before and after the intervention by means of a verbal analog scale.
Headache pain intensity was significantly reduced compared to the pretreatment. No side effects were observed, and all of the patients reported satisfaction with the intervention.
Noudeh Y, Vatankhah N, Baradaran H. (2016). Reduction of Current Migraine Headache Pain Following Neck Massage and Spinal Manipulation. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage Bodywork, 5(1): 5–13.
6. High blood pressure - Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Clinical Study: Impact of classic massage on blood pressure in patients with clinically diagnosed hypertension
The study involved 10 women aged 60–68, who had previously been diagnosed with hypertension. Ten sessions of classic massage of the lower limbs were performed every day over ten consecutive days.
For ten consecutive days, the blood pressure values in the examined women were decreasing, with the exception of the diastolic blood pressure measured 5 min after the massage. Classic massage might provide a safe supportive measure in pharmacologic treatment of hypertension.
Walaszek R. (2015). Impact of classic massage on blood pressure in patients with clinically diagnosed hypertension. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 4, 396-401.
7. General blood flow - ScienceDaily
Clinical Study: Massage therapy improves circulation, alleviates muscle soreness
Exercise-induced muscle injury has been shown to reduce blood flow. Healthy sedentary adults were asked to exercise their legs to soreness using a standard leg press machine. Half of the exercisers received leg massages, using conventional Swedish massage techniques, after the exercise. Participants rated their muscle soreness on a scale from 1 to 10.
The exercise-and-massage group reported no continuing soreness 90 minutes after massage therapy. The exercise-only group reported lasting soreness 24 hours after exercise. Massage also improved vascular function in people who had not exercised, suggesting that massage has benefits for people regardless of their level of physical activity.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2014, April 16). Massage therapy improves circulation, alleviates muscle soreness. ScienceDaily.
8. Sports injuries - International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
Clinical Study: Concussion Treatment Using Massage Techniques
This case study presents a unique massage therapy approach of a 23-year-old male soccer player diagnosed with postconcussion syndrome resulting from a fall. Assessment and treatment were completed in two sessions of 45 minutes spaced two days apart.
Using the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) and self-report, the outcome measures showed diminished concussion symptoms and regained ease in range of motion in the cervical area. Massage therapy also has the potential to reduce headache, dizziness, and nausea in concussion recovery.
Burns S. (2015). Concussion Treatment Using Massage Techniques: a Case Study. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, 8, 2.
9. Health in Older Adults - The Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine
Clinical Study: Massage Therapy Usage and Reported Health in Older Adults Experiencing Persistent Pain
The study examined the impact of massage therapy in 60 and older adults in the Kentucky area suffering from persistent pain. They compared self-reported health outcome scores among those who have and have not utilized massage therapy in the past year.
The results demonstrated that these older adults self-reported less limitation due to physical or emotional issues, better emotional health, more energy/less fatigue, better social functioning, and better overall health.
Munk N, Kruger T, Zanjani F. (2011). Massage Therapy Usage and Reported Health
in Older Adults Experiencing Persistent Pain. THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE, 17 (7), pages 609–616.
10. Sleep disorders - Health Central
Clinical Study: Improve Your Sleep with Massage Therapy
Insomnia is a struggle for 50 to 70 million Americans. Chronic insomnia occurs when an individual experiences insomnia nightly (or nearly every night) for at least 6 months. The recommended duration of massage therapy varies widely depending on patient needs and co-occurring issues. Most studies were conducted over a period of 3 to 13 weeks, generally consisting of 30-minute sessions occurring twice weekly.
Many patients reported having experienced positive results after a single session. The study indicated that massage therapy may be beneficial in combating insomnia, as well as the many chronic conditions that contribute to this sleep disorder such as muscle fatigue, anxiety and depression.
Reed M. (2016). Improve Your Sleep with Massage Therapy. Health Central.
11. Generalized Anxiety Disorder - The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry
Clinical Study: Acute Swedish Massage Monotherapy Successfully Remediates Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Forty-seven currently untreated subjects with a DSM-IV diagnosis of GAD were randomly assigned to twice-weekly Swedish massage therapy (SMT) versus a light touch control condition for 6 weeks. The primary outcome measure was reduction in Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS) scores after 6 weeks of treatment for SMT versus light touch
At week 6, the difference in HARS score reduction between SMT and light touch was 3.26 points. This first trial suggests that a complementary and alternative manual therapy, SMT, is an effective acute treatment for GAD.
Rapaport M, Schettler P, Larson E, Edwards S, Dunlop B, Rakofsky J, Kinkead B. (2016). Acute Swedish Massage Monotherapy Successfully Remediates Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Proof-of-Concept, Randomized Controlled Study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 77(7):e883-91.
12. Cancer-related fatigue - American Cancer Society
Clinical Study: Massage therapy decreases cancer-related fatigue (CRF)
6-week investigation of enrolled 66 female stage 0-III breast cancer survivors (age range, 32-72 years) who had received surgery plus radiation and/or chemotherapy/chemoprevention with CRF (Brief Fatigue Inventory > 25).
Massage therapy produced clinically significant relief of CRF. This finding suggests that 6 weeks of a safe, widely accepted manual intervention causes a significant reduction in fatigue, a debilitating sequela for cancer survivors.
Kinkead B, Schettler P, Larson E, Carroll D, Sharenko M, Nettles J, Edwards S, Miller A, Torres M, Dunlop B, Rakofsky J, Rapaport M. (2017). Massage therapy decreases cancer-related fatigue: Results from a randomized early phase trial. American Cancer Society, 124:546-54.
13. Premature infants - Pediatrics & Therapeutics
Clinical Study: Massage Therapy in Preterm Infants
Premature infants are at greater risk for long-term growth, health, social-emotional, behavioral, motor and neurodevelopmental problems. More recent research has shown that massage of preterm infants while in the NICU has beneficial effects on growth and neuro-developmental outcomes. The case reported is of 30 weeks 5 days preterm infant who, post discharge at day 54 of life, had parentally administered whole body massage once/day for a minimum of 3/week.
The child appears to have accelerated growth on all three modalities with full catch up growth by 6 months of life. This case supports the hypothesis that in-home message therapy may improve the long-term growth outcomes of premature infants. The personal touch provided by this simple low-tech, low-cost, and low risk therapy should be seriously considered for premature infants.
Aly F, Murtaza G. (2013). Massage Therapy in Preterm Infants. Pediatrics & Therapeutics, 3:2, 1000155.
14. Parkinson's Disease - International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork
Clinical Study: Massage Therapy Treatment and Outcomes for a Patient with Parkinson's Disease
To determine if massage therapy can produce favorable outcomes with respect to the severity of rigidity and tremor in a patient with PD. A 63-year-old female patient with idiopathic, long-standing, Hoehn-Yahr Stage 4 PD was treated with massage therapy five times over the course of six weeks.
Massage therapy treatment had a positive effect on reducing resting and postural tremor in a patient with long-standing PD. The treatment was also effective in temporarily reducing rigidity during treatment, but did not produce a lasting effect.
Casciaro Y. (2016). Massage Therapy Treatment and Outcomes for a Patient with Parkinson's Disease: a Case Report. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, 4;9(1):11-8.
15. Piriformis Syndrome - Potomac Massage Training Institute
Clinical Study: A Case Report of the Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome
This study demonstrates the application of therapeutic massage with a stretching program to ameliorate chronic piriformis syndrome. A protocol of 10 weekly 90-minute massages applied deep-tissue techniques with adjunct modalities. Focus of the work centered on the muscles and bones of the lower back, posterior and anterior legs.
After the first session, the subject was free of any sciatic pain for five days. From the fifth week on, piriformis syndrome discomfort was rarely experienced.
Link to study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26977216
Honig P. (2009). A Case Report of the Treatment of Piriformis Syndrome. Potomac Massage Training Institute, 2009.
16. Stress - American Massage Therapy Association
Clinical Study: Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress
Massage therapy has been shown to be a means by which stress can be reduced significantly on physical and psychological levels. Changes in psychological states have been measured by physiological responses, the Perceived Stress Scale, the POMS Depression Scale and the Anxiety State Scale.
In a study on the effect of trigger point therapy, there was a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure. After a 10 to 15 minute chair massage, measures of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels were all lower.
Multiple authors, references. Massage Therapy Can Relieve Stress. American Massage Therapy Association.
17. Back pain - Annals of Internal Medicine
Clinical Study: Does Massage Help Back Pain?
Researchers examined 401 people that reported chronic back pain. Individuals were divided into three treatment groups: relaxation massage, structural massage, and regular physical therapy and pain medication. Patients in the massage groups received one hour of weekly therapy for 10 weeks.
The study concluded that massage may be effective for treating chronic back pain, with benefits lasting at least 6 months.
Cherkin D, Sherman K, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook A, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo C. (2011). A Comparison of the Effects of 2 Types of Massage and Usual Care on Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Annals of Internal Medicine, 10, 96, derived from http://www.rmtedu.com/blog/does-massage-help-back-pain
18. Mood and Depression - J Clin Psychiatry
Clinical Study: Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis.
The study included 17 studies containing 786 persons from 246 retrieved references. Trials with other intervention, combined therapy, and massage on infants or pregnant women were excluded. Two reviewers independently performed initial screen and assessed quality indicators by Jadad scale.
All trials showed positive effect of massage therapy on depressed people. Seventeen RCTs were of moderate quality, with a mean quality score of 6.4 (SD = 0.85). Massage therapy is significantly associated with alleviated depressive symptoms.
Hou W, Chiang P, Hsu T, Chiu S, Yen Y. (2010). Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: a meta-analysis. J Clin Psychiatry. 71(7):894-901.
How often do you put on the brakes and find the time to take care of yourself?
According to the American Psychological Association, an overwhelming number of Americans don’t place a priority on self-care. This is unfortunate because self-care is one of the keys to wellness. When you don’t take the time to care for yourself, your physical and emotional health will suffer.
In the midst of chaos, you can still find relaxation. One of the easiest ways to care for yourself is with massage. Here's how to make it massage worth it.
MASSAGE CHAIRS: What do they actually do for you & the science that proves it
The truth is, as with almost all things technology, massage chairs have come a very long way, and they’re also way more affordable than they used to be.
Massage therapy provides life-improving results, from increased flexibility & lower stress to more energy.
Here are the 5 biggest benefits of a modern massage chair.
According to the American Psychological Association, stress-related ailments account for over 75 percent of all physician office visits and complaints.
The Mayo Clinic, known for their research and ranked among the best medical systems, reports that stress is known to cause the following on your body, mood and behaviour:
Muscle Tension or pain
High blood pressure
Sex Drive Changes
Lack of motivation or focus
Irritability or Anger
Sadness or depression
Overeating or undereating
Higher risk of substance or alcohol abuse
On the list of ways to manage stress and minimize the listed symptoms, Mayo Clinic first lists physical activity, followed immediately by relaxation techniques, specifically identifying massages.
BUT DO MASSAGE CHAIRS WORK FOR STRESS?
Independent studies, linked here and here, measured the effects of massage chairs on blood pressure.
These studies concluded that massage therapy reduces stress significantly on physical and psychological levels. Measures of oxygen consumption, blood pressure, and salivary cortisol levels, for example, were all lower after a 10 to 15 minute chair massage.
ARE THE EFFECTS WORTH IT?
How much is a daily 15 minutes massage chair session worth? On the grand scale, stress accounts for $26B in medical and disability payments, and $95B in lost productivity per year.
But for you and your coworkers, that means lost time with your family to stressful work, $600 - $1000 in doctor bills this year and a couple vacation days now spent in bed.
So is a massage chair to keep stress at bay worth it? That depends on how much each person values their time and health, but from a dollar standpoint, absolutely. A massage chair is a simple on demand solution that literally helps you feel better, and spend your time better.
NOTE: NOT ALL MASSAGE CHAIRS ARE EQUAL
Let’s go back to the start of this article, back to the big bulky 5-dollar-to-have-your-back-stabbed massage chairs.
Do Not Even Think Of Getting One Of Those
There are so many better options. For most, a massage chair is an investment and, as with any investment, there is a point at which you can not compromise.
You don’t need to have the top of the line, can take you to the moon and back level chair, but you do need the following features or you’re just wasting your money.
Full body - Including your hands, feet and calves
Shiatsu Features - Chairs with airbags built in provide the best results because they most accurately mimic hand-applied shiatsu techniques.
Roller Features - Look for dynamic (or intelligent) rollers
Full body heating - Muscles are best manipulated and blood flow improved when heat is applied with massage pressure.
Vibration motors - Specifically throughout the back and glutes
Slabway's True Shiatsu Massage Chair has all of these qualities.
2. Relax and loosen sore muscles
The human body is a very smart machine. When you overwork your body beyond what is healthy for you, muscles stiffen and become sore. These are signals to the body designed to keep you in check.
A massage chair, especially one with heating, works to relax muscle fibres and allow your body minimize symptoms of sore muscles. Studies supporting the relief effect on overexerted muscles & injury prevention are found here.
Nowadays, chairs use a combination to methods loosen stiff, sore muscles and bring nutrients & energy to fatigued muscles, especially chairs with a Shiatsu mode.
3. Boost immune system
Did you know that a 45-minute massage increases the number of lymphocytes in the body?
Lymphocytes are white blood cells, and the different types comprise a major role of the body’s immune system, which fights disease and regulates the body in order to stay healthy.
Lymphocytes are responsible for the body’s immune response. When the body is able to increase its number of lymphocytes, it is better able to attack illness such as the common cold, & flu, all the way to severe diseases.
According to experts, just one massage is enough to produce and measure significant quantifiable changes to the body’s endocrine and immune response.
5. Mobilize lymphatic circulation
As shown in the study here, the body’s lymphatic system is as important as the body’s blood flow. It is the drainage network that keeps our body fluid in balance and defends the body against infections. One way to think of the lymphatic system is to consider it as the body’s sewer system as it collects the body’s waste by-products.
While blood has the heart to pump it all along the body, the lymphatic system has no such “pump” to force its movement. It is only able to move around the body when you breathe and contract muscles. Lymphatic systems with clogged decreased circulation often reveal itself in inflammation, like swollen feet.
Other signs include:
* Swelling in your fingers/rings fitting more tightly
* Brain fog
* Digestive issues
* Sinus infections
* Skin problems/dry and or itchy skin
* Enlarged lymph nodes
* Chronic fatigue
* Feeling sore or stiff when you wake up in the morning
* Unexplained injuries
* Excess weight
* Cold hands and feet
* Worsened allergies
* Food sensitivities
* Increased colds and flu
The massage action of massage chairs and the recline position help to move lymph fluid better across the body thus combating inflammation and disease.
4. Alleviate pain and headaches
Massage chairs have a proven track record of alleviating all sorts of pain including headaches, common body aches, chronic neck/shoulder/back pain and so on. Studies show that massage therapy decreased cortisol levels and increases serotonin by an average of 28%. Serotonin is one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, the body is better able to manage pain.
This holds true for chronic pain and a quality massage chair is often a cheaper solution or addition to traditional treatment.
5. Increased flexibility
Regular massage chair use correlates with increased flexibility, especially when paired with regular exercise regimens. Massage chairs help combat decreased flexibility caused by trigger points. A trigger point is a painful condition from overexertion and strenuous exercise that leads to sore muscles and a restricted range of motion.
People suffering from trigger points and spasm areas experience relief and restoration from regular massage therapy, while tense muscles and ‘knots’ are loosened over time.
Support for this benefit comes from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Ontario, which showed that regular massage significantly decreases inflammation associated with trigger points and decreased flexibility.