Five Ways Massage Can Improve Your Health
February 21, 2014
Massage therapy is too often perceived as just a luxury, but it can play an important role in a health regimen. Here are five ways massage therapy can improve your health and wellness.
- Lower stress. The longterm effects of stress can take emotional and physical tolls. Massage therapy is proven to relieve stress and conditions associated with it, such as tension headaches.
- Increase immune function. Medical research indicates that massage therapy can help boost immune system strength by increasing the activity level of the body’s natural “killer T cells,” which fight off viruses.
- Boost mental health and wellness. Research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression (all associated with mental health) may be directly affected with massage therapy.
- Manage pain. Pain can negatively affect a person’s quality of life and impede recovery from illness or injury. Recent findings highlight the role of massage in pain management.
- Improve physical fitness. Elite and recreational athletes alike can benefit from regular massage therapy—massage is proven to reduce muscle tension, improve exercise performance and prevent injuries.
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Massage Therapy for Chronic Low-Back Pain
Research released in July 2011 expanded on previous studies demonstrating the effectiveness of massage therapy for chronic low back pain. Researchers found that “patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvements in both their pain and function”. The study was conducted over 10 weeks through Group Health Research Institute.
- Participants had a 60-minute massage once a week for 10 weeks.
- Massage patients also said they reduced the amount of over the counter anti-inflammatory medications they took.
- The study compared both relaxation massage and “structural massage” therapy and found no difference in the results from the type of massage given.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial.
Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):1-9.
Massage Therapy for Inflammation After Exercise
Research through the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario indicates that massage therapy reduces inflammation of skeletal muscle acutely damaged through exercise. The study provides evidence for the benefits of massage therapy for those with musculoskeletal injuries and potentially for those with inflammatory disease, according to the lead author of the research.
- The study found evidence at the cellular level that massage therapy may affect inflammation in a way similar to anti-inflammatory medications.
- The researchers “found that massage activated the mechanotransduction signaling pathways focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), potentiated mitochondrial biogenesis signaling [nuclear peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α)], and mitigated the rise in nuclear factor κB (NFκB) (p65) nuclear accumulation caused by exercise-induced muscle trauma.”
J. D. Crane, D. I. Ogborn, C. Cupido, S. Melov, A. Hubbard, J. M. Bourgeois, M. A. Tarnopolsky, Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 119ra13 (2012).