toa-heftiba-578093-unsplash.jpgWhat is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is an ancient form of healthcare dating back thousands of years.  It involves the manual manipulation of the skin and its underlying structures of muscle and various connective tissues using strokes such as effleurage, petrissage, friction, vibration, and tapotement depending on the modality the therapist is using.  In simpler terms, a practitioner (massage therapist) uses their limbs (hands, forearms, elbows, etc) to encourage a higher state of well-being for their clients by rubbing and kneading muscle.

Why Choose Massage?

Benefits from massage include lowering stress and improving a general sense of well-being by activating the parasympathetic system (rest and digest versus fight or flight)[1].  It can also lead to improved immune function, increased relaxation, lower levels of depression, and improved attentiveness with moderate pressure massage [1].  Massage also has the ability to improve immune cell function, making the body more efficient at fighting off invading microbes [1]. It also has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety [2].

Massage has been found to assist with pain management of the following conditions especially with moderate pressure [1][2][3]:

  • Female concerns like pregnancy and PMS
  • Headaches
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Cancer/Cancer Treatment

[1] Field, T. (2014). Massage Therapy Research Review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 20(4), 224-229.  http://doi.org/10/1016/j.ctcp.2014.07.002

[2] Sherman, K. J., Ludman, E. J., Cook, A. J., Hawkes, R. J., Roy-Byrne, P. P., Bentley, S., … Cherkin, D. C. (2010). Effectiveness of Therapeutic Massage for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Depression and Anxiety, 27(5), 441–450. http://doi.org/10.1002/da.20671

[3] Boyd, C., et all. (2016). The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part II, Cancer Pain Populations. Pain Medicine: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, 17(8), 1553-1568. http://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnw100

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba