If you were to ask a random person on the street 10 years ago what they thought of massage, they might have said it’s a luxury, or a way to get pampered that doesn’t afford long-lasting change.


But this mindset is slowly changing, as new studies have established massage’s health benefits. While scientific evidence is still limited, numerous studies have come out that identify a variety of health benefits.


Research has found that massage therapy has boosted the immune function, as well as lowering the heart rate and blood pressure, of women with breast cancer, increased grip strength in those with carpal tunnel syndrome, and even improved lung function in children afflicted with asthma.


Similarly, it was thought to help premature babies gain weight. Muscles also are found to rebound back to health faster if they receive massage following being exercised to exhaustion; mitochondria (the cell’s energy provider) production is increased, while inflammatory proteins are decreased.


For osteoarthritis sufferers in particular, the benefits of massage have been well established; a 2006 study found that massage greatly relieved their symptoms, including pain, stiffness and range of motion. Those with advanced cancer in hospice care found that massage both relieved pain and improved their moods.


In 2007, the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society went so far as to include massage as one of their recommendations for treating low back pain. To date, two states have required insurance companies to cover massage therapy: Washington and Florida. Other states are looking into adding the requirement.


How specifically does massage work? Definitive answers are still being sought, but some studies have found decreased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and cytokine proteins (related to allergies and inflammation) in the blood following massage. White blood cells, however, saw a boost; they are responsible for fighting off infection. It also found that arginine-vasopressin (a hormone related to stress and aggression) levels decreased in large amounts. Other theories suggest that the physical stimulation of massage may block pain signals meant to reach the brain.


Along with many other studies, massage currently is being examined to see how it benefits those with conditions sickle cell anemia, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression due to advanced AIDS; it also may prove to be valuable to sexual abuse victims.



3 Responses

  1. Excellent post! Massage is providing the benefit by the therapeutic value of touching that helps a person in pain. Releasing tightness and tension in muscles is the most obvious effect of a good massage.

  2. any positive findings on this matter would truly be revolutionary. I know that massage is now considered and accepted by many insurance providers as a medical remedy and thus it is covered. something more substantive would be amazing.

  3. The information given in the article is really good. Massage therapy is really an effective way to treat different diseases. From ancient age, the people are using it and newer techniques have also introduced by researchers as you have mentioned here.

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