What are the Physiological Effects of Massages?

What are the Physiological Effects of Massages?

Massages are a popular leisurely activity that helps people relax and wind down, particularly during times of stress. People enjoy them because they are often synonymous with meditation and relaxation. While many people claim feeling better after they get a massage, there has not been too much scientific literature to back up the claims with physiological data. A new study tries to quantify the effects by looking at the impact of massages on immune, hematological, and psychological states of adults.

The study had 32 participants with each participant receiving a 25-minute, full-body massage from a trained professional. The type of massage was based on Chinese techniques known as Amma. The order and objective of the massages were followed per protocol and began with certain parts of the body and had a consistent flow between study participants. Subjects were encouraged to provide feedback on their comfort levels throughout the massage, particularly in regards to the pressure exerted.

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), a questionnaire based anxiety measurement was taken before and after the massages were given. Blood and saliva samples were also taken to look at various markers including cholesterol levels. Each person served as their own control (the before massage numbers were the control and the after massage numbers were the comparator).

The 25-minute massages showed induction of relaxation, with better STAI scores in the after group. There was also some evidence of hemodilation and decreased cholesterol numbers in the patients. These findings are very interesting and may form the basis for future research in the area. This study alone is not enough to draw any strong conclusions, particularly in regards to the cholesterol numbers, since the number of participants in the study was so small. It will likely lead to future studies that take a m ore rigorous look at this though.

Massages can be extremely pleasurable and may have a physiological impact that is positive for you as well. It will be interesting to see where the research goes and how future data look because this has the potential to change certain disease treatments. Massage might be a much safer alternative to treating anxiety than the commonly prescribed BZDs which have a number of issues including substance abuse forming problems. The increased blood flow also has a lot of potential benefit in some people.

There are many medical groups which are likely looking for more data on these benefits because it can change their practices, the outcomes of their patients, and the public health. It will be interesting to see where clinical decision-making goes if these data are validated since it may also eventually lead to more broader coverage of massages and similar therapies by traditional payers such as insurance companies. This has the potential to make professionally delivered massages much more accessible to your average person since right now a large barrier to that is the cost associated with hiring a pro. If you are a massage fan, keep doing what you are doing because it may just be helping you be healthier.

About Doug Powell

Doug Powell, LMT, is a licensed massage therapist in the state of Florida offering Swedish, deep tissue, sports and therapeutic massage therapy. He is a graduate of the Orlando Institute of Massage Therapy where he finished his studies at the top of his class. He has practiced professional massage therapy in Orlando since 1996 and is a member of the Massage Network and International Massage Association. If you suffer from chronic muscle tension, pain or persistent stress, discover how my professional services can help you! Get Well and Stay Well My goal as a natural health care practitioner is to encourage the body and mind to regain and maintain their normal function. Indeed, when you create health, dis-ease disappears. As you help the body regain it’s normal function, many health problems resolve naturally. Some of the conditions I have successfully worked with include: low back pain joint pain neck and shoulder pain chronic low energy/weakness stress overload Is This Work Right for You? People come to me for a variety of reasons. For many, a weekly massage serves as an antidote to stress or as a recuperative phase of their fitness program. Others are looking for help with chronic pain or injuries. The services I offer are tailored to meet your needs whether you are ill, in tip-top shape, or somewhere in between. The goal is to increase your wellness: your vitality, your ease of movement, the function of your body, and your peace of mind.
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