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The Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is a great way to achieve greater relaxation, but did you know that massage therapy also has health benefits?

There is a growing body of research being done on massage therapy, and researchers are finding new evidence suggesting that massage therapy might be helpful as a complementary or adjunctive treatment for many different health conditions. In this blog, I am going to review some of the health conditions with the strongest level of research. Anxiety / Depression / Improved Mood Got anxiety?

You’re not alone; an estimated 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety although only about one-third receive treatment. The effects of massage on anxiety "are the most well established effects in the MT [massage therapy] research literature. Just one session of massage therapy has been shown to be effective for reducing state anxiety, and studies show that multiple treatments over time significantly reduces general trait anxiety [1]. When looking at the effect of massage on “affect” (that is, mood), researchers have suggested massage therapy can be helpful for decreasing depression and improving overall mood and reported well-being.

Migraines / Headaches While insufficient evidence exists on the general effectiveness of massage therapy for acute, chronic or recurrent headaches 1, 2, a systematic review did find positive effects of massage therapy on migraine. Further, according to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy can be effective for reducing tension headaches. Back pain / Neck Pain / Knee Pain / Shoulder Pain Where does it hurt? One of the most common reasons new clients call me is because something specific hurts. Is your neck killing you? Have you noticed a knot in your shoulder? Has your acute back pain become chronic?

Do your knees hurt and affect your daily activities. Has a podiatrist diagnosed you with plantar fasciitis? Of course, pain is really complex, and research has to look at different types of pain separately and consider whether it is acute or chronic, whether it is because of an injury or related to a comorbid condition. Research is strongest for finding that massage can provide immediate relief for conditions like back pain, neck pain, or for pain that arise in conjunction with another disorder (such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or cancer). Further, massage therapy is sometimes chosen because while pain medicines may help, they often have negative side effects that massage therapy does not. Of course, if you are in pain, you should talk to your doctor or primary health care provider first; especially if your pain is so bad that it affects your daily activities.

However, many people report less pain after a massage, and pain management is a very common reason why new clients give me a call. Insomnia / Sleeplessness Are you up a night and just can’t get some shut eye? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty falling back to sleep? Insomnia is highly prevalent, afflicting millions of individuals each year. An estimated 1.6 million Americans turn to complementary and alternative medicine in order to treat their insomnia (NCCAM 2006).

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage therapy can improve sleep. These are just some of the health benefits of massage therapy. Of course, you will want to consult with your doctor about any conditions or injuries you have, especially if they are interfering with your daily activities and functioning. SUMMER IS HERE!

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