Massage — Good for What Ails You

Ask the average person what they think of when you say massage therapy and they most likely will mention getting sore or tight muscles rubbed, getting relaxed or reducing tension. These are probably the main reasons most people seek out massage treatments.

This article reviews the very broad scope of treatment that massage addresses every day. Many of these conditions may not directly apply to you, but you may know someone — a family member or friend — who is affected. At the very least, you should find it interesting to learn just how beneficial massage therapy is to all of us in our quest to lead a happy and healthy life.

The medical conditions that people find therapeutic massage can help include:

  • allergies
  • anxiety
  • arthritis
  • asthma & bronchitis
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • chronic & temporary pain
  • circulatory problems
  • depression
  • digestive disorders
  • headache, especially due to tension
  • insomnia
  • myofascial pain (where the muscles connect)
  • reduced range of motion
  • sinusitis
  • sports injuries
  • stress
  • TMJ (noise and/or pain in the jaw joint)

As interest in massage therapy grows, more studies are being conducted to verify the anecdotal results clients have reported for years.

As an example, several studies offer evidence that immune function is strengthened by massage therapy — in both healthy people as well as those who are fighting disease.

"‘In one study after another, research is suggesting that massage therapy has a positive impact on immune function,’ said Diane Zeitlin, research associate at the Center for Research in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Kessler Medical Rehabilitation & Education Corporation, West Orange, N.J.

"‘An increase in white blood cells and natural killer-cell activity better prepares the body to fight off possible invading cells,’ said Zeitlin. ‘These cellular changes suggest the immune system benefited from the massages, and these findings fall in line with previous research.’"

In a study conducted by the Touch Research Institute (TRI) at the University of Miami on women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, the women received regular massage therapy (three times a week for five weeks), with 80 percent showing improved immune function.

"‘These are the first studies that show an effect of massage therapy on an immune function test, which can support the use of massage therapy to alleviate stress, relax muscles and now possibly serve as an alternative medical practice,’ said Michael Ruff, Ph.D., research associate professor at Georgetown University Medical School."

Another TRI study addressed fibromyalgia (a chronic condition characterized by muscular pain, aching, and/or stiffness and afflicting an estimated 3 – 6 million Americans). A portion of the study group received 30 minute massages twice a week for five weeks. The rheumatologists that evaluated the results determined that this group experienced decreases in pain, fatigue, stiffness and improvements in the quality of sleep.

If you are fortunate enough to have excellent health, consider what benefits massage can provide for you. What is becoming evident from the growing number of studies on massage benefits is that massage is helping people to enjoy more optimal physical functioning. And this in turn can lead to a better mental outlook.

The next time you hear someone say that massage is only a luxury, you’ll know that massage is really a tool that can help improve a body’s ability to regain and maintain proper function. Making you feel terrific is just a wonderful bonus!