Far too often it is portrayed in the healthcare industry that there is not enough credible evidence to make a case for massage therapy being of clinical benefit; Nothing could be further from the truth.
For about a decade or so, medical journals, hospitals and other therapists have been conducting clinical trials, research, and controlled group experiments in order to truly pinpoint and quantify the therapeutic benefits of massage and what roles in healthcare, massage can address. The results are incredible!
Science has been able to prove that massage possesses a plethora of healing, from mental to physical, and can be applied to a wide variety of conditions from, Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to postpartum depression, and everything in between. In the following we will explore some of this, scientific peer reviewed evidence, that points to massage bing a long lasting staple in wellness.
The Case Study
Seminars in Neonatology Volume 7 Issue 6 discuss the Benefits of infant massage for Mothers with postpartum depression. During stressful times in a mother's life, it can prove difficult to connect with a new baby on a deeper level than just feedings and changes. In this case study mothers attended a massage class with their new babies to offer a way of calm interaction between mom and infant.
The results show that massage class helped mothers relate better to their babies. The study goes on to say that this developmental bond may include the mother being better able to understand the cues of her child, and perhaps a release of oxytocin during the massage experience.
Oxytocin is ,bra h,brormone that stimulates the production of breast milk before the child is born (prolactin is released after) and also responsible for uterine contractions during childbirth.
More information on that study here.
The Case Study
In 1999 Marlaine C. Smith, associate professor of nursing at the University of Colorado’s Health Science Center School of Nursing in Denver, conducted an experiment that consisted of 113 hospitalized patients with the objective to reveal the range of patient outcomes when utilizing massage as a complementary treatment to acute and long term illness. These 113 hospitalized patients received 1-4 massages during the course of their hospital stay.
This article states that the most frequently identified outcomes were increased relaxation and a sense of well-being (about 98% of all participants). Even better, more than two-thirds of participants attributed enhanced mobility, greater energy, increased participation in treatment and faster recovery time to massage therapy.
The Journal of Pediatric Psychology reports a study conducted for children who suffer from Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. This case followed children with mild to moderate rheumatoid arthritis who were massaged by their parents for approximately 15 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days.
The children experience and immediate decrease in cortisol ( stress hormone) after massage (as most people often do) and over the 30 day duration their overall pain associated with their condition decreased by self report and physician evaluation.
More on that study here.
The Bottom Line
Massage has been used for thousands of years as a way to treat, relax, and heal the body, but now we have the science to show us just how powerful massage can be for the body and the mind.
Patients with fibromyalgia who received massage 2x per week for 5 weeks reported a decrease in anxiety levels, lowered depression, and lowered cortisol levels. See Source
More than two thirds of 113 hospitalized patients who received 1-4 massages during the course of their hospital stay reported enhanced mobility after massage treatment. See Source
Massage therapy has shown to significantly reduce pain and increase relaxation. See Source