Breakthroughs in massage therapy research

Massage therapy continues to find its way into new areas to treat both physical and mental health conditions.   In this post, we look at some of the new massage therapy treatment and research studies reported around the Web.  

Does a massage make people happy?

Considering that massage and touch therapies have been around for centuries in hundreds of cultures as part of healing practices, there’s good reason to believe that it creates happiness. That’s the basis of a new initiative, “Massage Makes Me Happy,” from the Global Wellness Institute.  According to the Institute website, the purpose of the initiative is tocelebrate the healing powers of massage therapy and promote its benefits through research and education, advocacy and global awareness.”

One of Massage Makes Me Happy goals will be to consolidate existing clinical research and support new research for deeper integration of massage into healthcare and wellness practices. Other program elements include:

  • Encourage storytelling of massage therapists' benefits through massage therapists, wellness and spa professionals, consumers, caregivers, educators, and more to gain more support.
  • Promote and market massage therapy and massage therapy careers worldwide.

Read more about the Massage Makes Me Happy Initiative.


Research shows the benefits of massage therapy for self-care

A press release issued by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) indicates that Research on the benefits of massage therapy gives strong evidence for including massage as part of an approach to staving off pain and relieving stress and anxiety.” Specifically:

Stress: Looking at what happens to the body during a massage to aid relaxation, AMTA points to studies on trigger point therapy that show a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure8, and diastolic blood pressure.

Anxiety: Research continues to document the impact for relief of anxiety and depression for people in a wide range of health situations, says AMTA.  It cites one randomized study that found women with stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer experienced reduced anxiety, depressed mood, and anger, while the long-term impact reduced depression and increased serotonin values.

Pain: AMTA reports 41% of American adults who had a massage in the past 5 years to indicate they sought it for pain relief.  Read more


Reviewing massage for preterm infants

Massage Magazine reports that a recent study analyzed 34 published randomized controlled trials and concluded an overall trend toward weight gain among preterm infants who received massage therapy.

Massage Magazine writes, “Other outcome measures assessed in the published research included sleep, calorie consumption, bilirubin levels, vagal activity (The vagus nerve forms part of the involuntary nervous system and commands unconscious body procedures, such as keeping the heart rate constant and controlling food digestion.), number of stools, heart rate variability, pain and length of hospital stay.”  The increase in weight gain may be associated with an increased vagal tone, but more studies are needed.  Read more

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