Breakthroughs in massage therapy research


BIOTONE has long been a contributor to research to advance massage therapy to treat physical and emotional conditions. Over the years, BIOTONE has funded research to determine massage therapy's role in treating lower back pain, arthritis, and breast cancer. We also have funded Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) Community Service Projects, which enable hundreds of individuals throughout the country and across borders to benefit from massage therapy. The MTF projects also provide insight into the benefits of touch therapies for healthcare.

Massage therapy research is an ongoing effort globally, with studies being conducted in a wide range of areas. Here is just some of the latest news from the web about what’s happening in the field.  We’ll plan to keep you updated about news in this important area 


Massage and Muscle Atrophy

Researchers at the University of Kentucky have been awarded a $2.1 million grant to study the potential for massage to aid in the recovery of muscle mass and reduce muscle atrophy. Researcher Esther Esther Dupont-Versteegden in the University’s College of Health Sciences (CHS) and her colleague Tim Butterfield have been studying how massage can aid in the recovery of muscle mass reduce muscle atrophy in people who are unable to exercise, possibly due to recent surgery or illness. These individuals can lose as much as three percent of their muscle mass per week in the absence of exercise. The researchers propose that massage may stave off atrophy because massage mimics the effect of exercise by sending signals to the muscle to begin protein synthesis. Read more


Infant Massage and Substance-Addicted Mothers

Pregnant women and mothers are increasingly turning to painkillers, such as opioids.  As a result, every 25 minutes, a child is born suffering from opioid withdrawal, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Massage Magazine writes that recent research indicates that infant massage classes could help women struggling with substance abuse.  

A study “Blended infant massage-parenting enhancing program on recovering substance-abusing mothers’ parenting stress, self-esteem, depression, maternal attachment, and mother-infant interaction” found that women with substance abuse problems who attended a parenting class that included lessons on infant massage resulted in significantly reduced parenting stress, as well as decreased symptoms of depression. Read more


Massage and back pain

In the first study of its kind, research conducted at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has found that real-world massage therapy to be an effective treatment for chronic low back pain.  Low back pain leads all disorders in the years lost to disability in the U.S. Most patients improve rapidly, but one-third report persistent back pain, and 15 percent develop chronic low back pain with significant physical limitations.

More than 50 percent of those who participated in the study experienced clinically meaningful improvements in their low back pain with a disability, according to one of the coauthors of the study, Niki Munk. She added, “While the study results are promising, much more work needs to be done. The fact of the matter is that chronic lower back pain is very complex and often requires a maintenance-type approach versus a short-term intervention option." Read more

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