Massage Therapy News and Research

Massage Therapy for Pain Mitigates Use of Opioids

The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is advancing the use of massage therapy as a realistic approach to many forms of pain. The AMTA makes this announcement having compiled significant consumer and clinical research on the use of massage therapy for pain. Research indicates that massage therapy can either replace the use of drugs, such as opioids, or work in conjunction with non-addictive medication for pain management.  

Addiction to opioids is a serious health issue in the United States, with more than 34,000 deaths in 2016. The AMTA says that massage therapy is a well-accepted nonpharmacological therapy for managing pain, including a variety of specific chronic pain issues. It is recognized by the National Institutes of Health and included in nonpharmacological pain guidelines issued by The Joint Commission for hospitals, as well as guidelines by the American College of Physicians and the Federation of State Medical Board. Read more.

Massage Decreases Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Massage Magazine reports that a review of previous research indicates that massage after strenuous exercise results in a significant decrease in delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), along with an increase in muscle performance and a decline in creatine kinase. Over 500 people participated in the 11 studies that were part of the review on massage for delayed onset muscle soreness.

The magazine writes the various studies focused on different muscles or body region and that the duration of massage ranged from six to 30 minutes, depending on the area of focus. Specifically, the results of the meta-analysis indicated that there was a significant decrease in ratings of muscle soreness after receiving massage therapy as compared to no intervention. Improvements in muscle soreness were greater when massage occurred 48 or 72 hours after exercise. The review’s authors found the biggest drop in muscle soreness when massage occurred 48 hours after exercise. Read more.

New Moms and the Importance of Touch, Postpartum

An article in Romper points to the value of massage for pregnant women and new moms. Author Michele Perez writes that for many pregnant women, a prenatal massage is the first and last piece of bodywork they experience. After birth, many first-time mothers report feeling “touched out” from holding an infant and breastfeeding around the clock.  Experts say that one of the best ways for a new mother to heal is actually to be physically touched.

However, bodywork is not generally part of postpartum recovery in the U.S. unless a mom is suffering from an injury, according to Perez. This despite the fact that “purposeful and reassuring touch from a variety of bodywork professionals, combined with physical and emotional support at home, can improve a woman’s recovery, according to a wealth of research.”

Other research indicates that prenatal massage also can help prevent premature birth. A study published in the Journal of Obstetric Gyneacology, noted that in China, where massage is a routine part of maternal care, the premature birth rate is just 1 percent. This figure compares to a 14 percent premature birth rate in the U.S. Read more.