Consumers have long suspected that massage helps promote a healthy and balanced lifestyle. As more research demonstrates the effectiveness of massage therapy for helping to treat common ailments like low back pain, more are seeking massage to improve their overall wellness and health.
Consumers aren’t the only people recognizing the benefits of massage. Physicians and other healthcare providers are increasingly recommending massage therapy to their patients as a supplement to traditional health care. According to one national survey, 54 percent of primary care physicians and family practitioners would encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy as a treatment. Consumers surveyed over the last three years say that when they discuss therapeutic massage with their physicians, more than 70% responded favorably.
Massage May Help Ease Your Pain
Millions of Americans are all too familiar with pain. There can be countless trips to the doctor or chiropractor, pain medications, sleepless nights and the burden of making it through the day while enduring pain.
A recent survey by the American Hospital Association shows that nearly 82 percent of hospitals that use some form of complementary or alternative care use massage therapy, with 70 percent of those hospitals using massage for pain management and pain relief. A consumer survey commissioned by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reveals that more people than ever are seeking massage to manage and relieve pain. The survey shows that nearly half, 47 percent, of those polled have had a massage specifically for pain relief. A 2003 survey of 1,998 massage clients showed that 63 percent believed massage therapy provided them greater pain relief than chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy or other bodywork.
Clinical research has shown massage therapy can:
- Be more effective for chronic back pain than other complementary therapies.
- Promote relaxation and alleviate the perception of pain and anxiety in cancer patients.
- Reduce post-traumatic headaches better than cold pack treatments.
- Lessen pain and muscle spasms in patients who have undergone heart bypass surgery when part of hospital-based surgery treatment.
- Stimulating release of endorphins
- Improve confidence by encouraging patients to effectively cope with their pain.
A study conducted by Beth Israel-Deaconess Center for Alternative Medicine Research and Education and the Center for Health Studies in Seattle concluded that therapeutic massage was an effective treatment for providing long-lasting benefits for patients suffering from chronic low back pain. In fact, researchers hypothesize that massage might be an effective alternative to conventional medical care for persistent low back pain. Researchers hope to continue their research to determine which components of the massage therapy experience contribute to its effectiveness.
Boosting Immune Function
During periods of stress, the effectiveness of the body’s immune system is reduced. Research indicates that massage can increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity (the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells”) and decrease the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune functioning overall.