Last week, one of our clients brought over an article in the Tuesday, March 13th, Health & Wellness section of The Wall Street Journal entitled “Don’t Call It Pampering: Massage Wants to Be Medicine” by Andrea Petersen. It cites studies that explore the health benefits of massage. Here are some of the findings:
- A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 showed that full-body Swedish massage greatly improved symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee. Patients who had massages twice weekly for four weeks and once a week for an additional for weeks had less pain and stiffness and better range of motion than those who didn’t get massages. They were also able to walk a 50-foot path more quickly.
- A full-body massage boosted immune function and lowered heart rate and blood pressure in women with breast cancer undergoing radiation treatment, a 2009 study of 30 participants found.
- A 2010 study at the Emory University School of Medicine with 53 participants comparing the effects of a single 45-minute massage to light touch, found that people who got a massage had a large decrease in arginine-vasopressin, a hormone that normally increases with stress and aggressive behavior, and slightly lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their blood after the session. There was also a decrease in cytokine proteins related to inflammation and allergic reactions.
- Children given 20-minute massages by their parents every night for five weeks plus standard asthma treatment had significantly improved lung function compared with those in standard care, a 2011 study of 60 children found.
- People who received one of two types of massage – one relaxing, the other more targeted – once a week for 10 weeks had less pain and disability than those who didn’t receive massage, a study of 401 people with low back pain published last year found. Some of the benefits lasted more than nine months after the last treatment.
- In a small study last month at the McMaster University Medical Center In Hamilton, Ontario published in the Journal of Science Translational Medicine, a 10-minute massage promoted muscle recovery after exercise. In the study, 11 young men exercised to exhaustion and then received a massage in one leg. Muscle biopsies were taken in both quadricep muscles before exercise, after the massage and 2 1/2 hours later. The short massages boosted mitochondria production, the energy factory of the cell, and reduced proteins associated with inflammation in muscles that had been exercised to exhaustion.