P. Sidney Parker
Research on massage therapy, and its benefits, continues to
show that it reduces heart rate, lowers blood pressure,
increases endorphins, and the circulation of blood and lymph
fluids. Research has also shown that therapeutic massage relaxes
muscles, and improves range of motion (ROI).
While massage does not increase muscle strength, massage can
increase muscle tone. Therapeutic massage also helps the body's
homostatic functions thereby decreasing the amount of time
needed to recover after exercise or injury which is often caused
by muscle stiffness (inflexibility). Massage helps in keeping
the proper amount of fluid circulating between muscle fibers,
and in rehydrating dehydrated fibers.
Joan Borysenko (www.joanborysenko.com),
a medical scientist, licensed clinical psychologist, and
cofounder of the Mind/Body Clinic at Harvard Medical School, had
this to say when interviewed by the Massage Journal, in 1999:
"Often times people are stressed in our culture.
Stress-related disorders make up between 80-and-90 percent of
the ailments that bring people to family-practice physicians.
What they require is someone to listen, someone to touch them,
someone to care. That does not exist in modern medicine.
One of the complaints heard frequently is that physicians
don't touch their patients any more. Touch just isn't there.
Years ago massage was a big part of nursing. There was so much
care, so much touch, so much goodness conveyed through massage.
Now nurses for the most part are as busy as physicians. They're
writing charts, dealing with insurance notes, they're doing
procedures and often there is no room for massage any more.
I believe massage therapy is absolutely key in the healing
process not only in the hospital environment but because it
relieves stress, it is obviously foundational in the healing
process any time and anywhere."
In the past century research on the benefits massage therapy
has yeilded some very encouraging findings.
There is research showing that Office workers felt less
stress, experienced heightened alertness and increased
performance, when getting regular massage sessions. Some of the
other findings from research on the benefits of massage therapy
- University students, in New Jersey, massaged before an
exam showed a significant decrease in anxiety and
respiration rates. It was also found they had a measurable
increase their white blood cell count and in the production
of T-cells so important to the immune system.
- After receiving therapeutic massage a group of cancer
patients experienced reduced pain and anxiety.
- An university study found that mothers who had recently
suffered the death of a child, experienced reduced levels of
depression after receiving therapeutic massage.
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted
studies that found therapeutic massage was beneficial in
improving weight gain in HIV infants.
- Reseachers at the Touch Research Institute (University
of Miami) found therapeutic massage helpful in reducing
blood pressure. The same research has found that therapeutic
massage helps in reducing pain in migraine sufferers.
Some of the other benefits of therapeutic massage are:
- The skin
- Improves tone and elasticity
- Improves skin nourishment
- Aids in normalizing glandular functions
- Skeletal system (Myofascial)
- Relieves stiff joints
- Assists in proper body alignment
- Muscular system
- Reduces fibrosis and adhesions in fibers
- Assists in maintaining flexibity
- Can relax or stimulate fibers
- Relieves tension, and stiffness
- Circulatory system
- Improves cell nutrition
- Improves cell oxygen supply
- Decreases blood pressure
- Nervous system
- Stimulates nerves
- Relieves insomnia
- Promotes a state of well-being
- Lymphatic system
- Increases circulation
- Flushes out toxins and metabolic wastes
- Improves flexibility and ROI
- Relieves tight and sore muscles
- Decreases recovery time after exercise or injury
For more information on the benefits of therapeutic massage,
visit the American Massage Therapy Association's web site at
http://www.amtamassage.org and my Holistic Health Therapy
web site at