Below is the most recent compiled research of the latest Massage Therapy practices, benefits, and outlooks.
Experts estimate that upwards of ninety percent of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:
Massage can also help specifically address a number of health issues. Bodywork can:
Cancer is a common word in todays society unfortunately, with the outcomes being catastrophic for the individual. In this study, 1,290 patients were studied over a 3 year period who received a standard Swedish massage ranging from 20-60 minutes showed a 50% reduction in pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, depression, and other symptoms with benefits lasting throughout 48 hours post massage. The effects of massage therapy in this study have concluded a, “…non-invasive and inexpensive means of symptom control for patients with serious chronic illness. It is…comforting, free of side effects and greatly appreciated by recipients.” (Cassileth, 2004)
The individuals stuck at a computer all day know the aches and tension involved with sitting at a computer all day. The pain is usually located at the base of the neck right below the base of the skull and/or across the top of the shoulder going down along the shoulder blade. There is evidence that explains sustained static muscular contraction causes the muscle to deplete itself of local nutrients, “muscle food”, which create highly tender spots in the muscle tissue, trigger points. Over a period of time, these contracted trigger points are thought to be an underlying cause of tension headaches. In a study measuring massage therapy treatment of the neck and shoulder muscles to reduce chronic tension headaches, demonstrated, “…muscle-specific massage therapy technique…has the potential to be a functional, nonpharmacological intervention for reducing the incidence of chronic tension headache.” (Quinn, 2002)
If you suffer from fibromyalgia you are aware of the intense overall pain, the always present fatigue, never feeling like you have enough sleep, chronic headaches, anxiety, and depression among the many other symptoms as well. In this study, the massage technique of myofascial release (MFR) has been shown to significantly improve the symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. Myofascial release targets the softening of the fascia around the muscles. The fascia is like the “plastic wrap” around each muscle fiber, the “spaghetti noodles”. The fascia acts as a supportive framework around each muscle fiber to hold it all together. So, when you move the fascia must move so the muscle can move and so on…this is how the mechanism works. However, fascial entrapments, where the fascia is stuck and won’t move, occur for a multitude of reasons. These fascial entrapment patterns cause that area in the body to stop receiving appropriate stimuli and creating a dysfunctional process called “densification,” (Moreno-Lorenzo, 2011). It has been shown in the tissue where densification occurs, causes limited movement, fat accumulation, and an altered chemical state of the tissue. However, with MFR you can manage your symptoms with massage so that you can feel better and live a more pain-free life.
Texas heat can mean extreme temperatures ranging from 90 degrees to upwards of 110 degrees. For most Texans this is miserable but normal; however, this heat can be extremely unbearable when you’re struggling with high blood pressure (i.e. hypertension). In a study based on the effects of massage therapy on hypertensive women showed, “…Swedish massage therapy (SMT) is able to reduce both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure..,”(Supa’at, et. al., 2013). Indicating massage therapy can help to reduce blood pressure symptoms associated with hypertension, more specifically in women. Common symptoms of hypertension include: headache, dizziness, nausea, and many others specific to each person. It was also found the effects of massage on blood pressure extended beyond the initial trial period showing a significantly reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and VCAM-1 (an indicator of stress on blood vessel walls). In essence, a regular massage will significantly reduce the symptoms of hypertension over a prolonged period of time. To read more on this article, follow the link below:
Massage therapy has built a reputation on “feeling good” however, recent research suggests there is more to massage than just the feeling good aspect. Growing research has found that massage therapy boosts immune function, improves symptom control of asthma, and improves grip strength in individuals with carpal tunnel to name a few. Massage therapy has even grown to become a recommendation for low back pain by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society. To read more follow the link below:
A great read on what you can do to take care of your muscles. A recent review article demonstrates a combination of proper nutrition and a regular exercise routine are pertinent in delaying sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is defined as, “…the progressive and generalized loss of muscle mass and strength,”: (Rondanelli, 2015). The suggested amount of protein intake for an adult is 1.2grams per kilogram of body weight per day with possible supplementation in certain cases. So, for every 2.2 pounds of body weight, the average adult is recommended to consume1.2grams of protein per day.
This is an excellent research article reviewing and explaining the muscle injury healing process. In short, there are two classifications of muscle injuries: 1-a muscle tear, or bruise, and 2-parts of a muscle fiber are eliminated and regrown. In a muscle tear or bruise, this is most commonly caused by some type of compressive force, like a direct hit to an area, resulting in swelling within the muscle that will dissipate over a few days. In the instance of a muscle fiber being eliminated and regrown is due to a more severe injury (i.e. overexertion of muscles) where there is a clear loss of muscle function. It is noted that in either type of injury the regenerative process is the same. The regenerative or “healing” process is broken down into 3 phases, 1-deconstruction phases, or the removal and isolation of the injured area, 2-repair phase, or the elimination of the injured tissue, and 3-remodeling phase, where new muscle fibers are produced and placed where the old injured ones where. This article is full of interesting detailed info so please visit the site below for more information.
We’ve all heard about essential oils and how great and wonderful they are, but how much of it is true and how much of it is sham??? In the following article, it explains that essential oils are odorous and volatile compounds that are stored in plants secretory structures or glands. The actual concentration of essential oils in most plants is at max 1%, however, there are a few plants that will yield essential oil concentrations of up to 10%. Because of essential oils chemical structure, the compounds are absorbable through diffusion in our skin. Due to their volatility, they are also able to be easily inhaled. When ingested, these essential oil compounds go through the digestive process to yield compounds that produce physiological functions such as: interacting with hormones or enzymes, and/or by acting as another agent producing some physiological function such as relaxation within the nervous system. With this fundamental understanding of how and what an essential oil is and does, it then becomes very clear how it can be useful within the body. To read more and find the specifics on each oil click on the link below.
This is an excellent article detailing the specific metabolic processes that occur after exercise-induced stress occurs in one’s muscle. This article goes on to describe what happens within the muscle post exercise and how massage directly affects the metabolic process. Through this experiment, it was found that massage really has no effect on the muscle metabolites such as glycogen and lactate which are believed to be the cause of muscle soreness after a workout, but massage did reduce the inflammatory process that directly affects inflammation following the cellular stress of the individual muscle fibers from exercise. In conclusion, it is shown to be clinically beneficial to receive a massage post exercise as it will reduce the inflammation to the muscles and will promote mitochondrial biogenesis (i.e. healthy cellular function). Click the link below to read this article directly:
Massage therapy sessions have shown to have a, “…significant reduction in pain levels, but also the inter-relatedness of pain, relaxation, sleep, emotions, recovery, and finally the healing process,” (1). This occurs due to the gate control theory where, “…inhibiting the transmission of noxious stimuli by stimulating large nerve fibers have shown to alter pain perception,” (1). Massage therapy produces a relaxation response that creates a calm state and enhances the ability to rest, “…as well as lowering blood pressure, heart rate, decreased oxygen consumption, muscle tension, and lower levels of cortisol and noradrenaline,” (1). Read more by following the link below:
In determining the effectiveness of massage therapy for rehabilitation of post-anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction with patellofemoral pain syndrome, it was found that massage therapy is an effective complementary therapy. Through 9 sessions of massage therapy,y the client reported a significantly reduced: pain level, hamstring flexion contracture, and lateral tracking of the patella.
Fascial unwinding occurs when a physically induced suggestion by a therapist prompts ideomotor action that the client experiences
as involuntary. This action is guided by the central nervous system, which produces continuous action until a state of ease is reached.
Consequently, fascial unwinding can be thought of as a neurobiologic process employing the self-regulation dynamic system theory.
Did you know that massage therapy has been shown to be an appropriate “tool” or therapy for working with scoliosis, costoverterbral dysfunction, and thoracic outlet syndrome. For those that don’t know what these conditions are: scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine, costovertebral dysfunction can be caused by minor trauma and/or vertebral segmental dysfunction where the ribs and the spine connect, and thoracic outlet syndrome is a neurovascular entrapment in the thoracic outlet (i.e. shoulders and neck). In a study done on the efficacy of massage therapy modalities: muscle energy techniques, neuromuscular therapy, passive myofascial stretching, and cross-fiber friction, for concurrent treatment of these conditions showed improvements of all measured categories (i.e. pain level, sleep, postural assessment of hips), and continued therapy provided improvement in long-term dysfunctional patterns.
It is understood that trigger points within the bodies muscular tissues cause a multitude of impaired motor activation patterns and are addressed for pain management through multiple applications. It has been shown that after resting and dry needling, there was a reduction in muscle pain although dry needling showed a larger reduction versus just resting. With botox injections for Myofascial pain for the neck, shows to be extremely convoluted in practice but with initial reductions in pain with some patients eventually returning to their normal pain level. Myofascial release of the taut muscle fibers have shown immediate improvement in both muscle strength and pain level to the affected area.
In conclusion, there are multiple techniques for alleviating chronic pain as it relates to trigger points and the specific pain you may have. Finding what technique or therapy that works for you can be challenging but you must remember it is unique to your body. As Convoluted as this may all seem it is of the utmost importance that your practitioner is well versed in their discipline and understands how to help guide you through your specific pain.
Did you know your body can develop adhesions after surgery, trauma, infection, and/or inflammation within your body? Hmmm, what are adhesions anyway?!?! Adhesions are abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that form between two anatomically different structures, . So think of it like an onion and how the onion has layers, well in an adhesive state those layers of onion that are supposed to be separate are glued together. This creates lots of difficulty when moving due to those layers of tissues being glued together. So how do we fix it?!?! In a study on efficacy of soft tissue mobilization (STM), shows that techniques consisting of, visceral massage, myofascial induction therapy (MIT), hot pack combined with STM (superficial and deep), mechanical abdominal massage, as well as pelvic and abdominal diaphragm myofascial release or direct scar release,showed to have moderate to strong evidence for the benefits of STM on symptoms related to non-surgical and post-surgical adhesions, .
Aside from adequate nutrient intake, when your muscles are not firing in a functional order when you move, you will put more weight/work on a muscle than it is designed to hold which further fatigues the muscle and puts you at greater risk for muscle tendon strains/sprains, etc. While the research still isn’t 100% conclusive for one cause or another, the current research suggests that altered neuromuscular control could play a huge factor in muscles that are fatigued and/or not conditioned for exercise/movements. There is a specialty of work within massage therapy called neuromuscular massage therapy that works by lengthening the short and tight muscle fibers and reducing the excess proprioceptive stimulation which creates a “relaxation” effect of the muscle unit.
Acupressure has shown to provide promising relief in managing chronic low back pain. The qualities measured were: fatigue, pain, poor sleep, and disability, and how they worsened, stayed the same, or improved when applying acupressure, versus usual care. The pain scale showed an improvement of 35-36% in the acupressure groups, and demonstated very minimal adverse affects. Follow the link below to learn more about the pain science of acupressure.
Reflexology massage is a common modality but also carries with it largely misunderstood outcomes. Reflexology is the study of the reflex points in the human body and how they relate to various areas in the body. Through massage it has been shown to produce a relaxation and induce a more balanced state within the body. There are other claims for its effectiveness in helping other ailements although the research is not conclusive on the mechanisms of action. Reflexology has been shown to be a very safe and effective non-pharmocological method of reducing stress in the body. It is also understood that stress contributes up to 80% of the development of illness, with the other 20% being influenced by other conditions.