Efficiency and Benefits of Massage Therapy

When health is absent…Wisdom cannot reveal itself
Art cannot become manifest
Strength cannot be exerted
Wealth is useless and reason is powerless.

The advancements in medicine have provided numerous cures and treatments for diseases that were terminal just a hundred years ago. And while there is a pill that can solve many problems, there isn’t one that can give you what a simple old-fashioned massage can – a total relaxation. But, there is more to it.

Massage is so simple: it is natural, there are no chemicals involved and the person receiving the treatment needs to do absolutely nothing in order to feel the full effect. It has become a part of various aspects of everyday life, from free time to medicine, sports and even beauty treatments.

Illness is the most heeded of doctors:
to goodness and wisdom we only make promises;
pain we obey.
Marcel Proust

As one of the main alternative treatments, massage therapy is recommended and used for different problems, from coping with pain, cancer, fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS and infant care to other conditions. Massage styles mostly performed today are Swedish, Deep tissue, Sports massage, Trigger point massage, Esalen, Pre-Natal, Acupressure, Shiatsu, Counterstrain, Ortho Bionomy, Reflexology and others.

Endocrine System. It is scientifically proven that massage regulates and stimulates hormone levels in the organism. Hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, oxytocin, cortisol and growth hormone are released into the organism during a massage session and they affect metabolism, mood, body temperature, the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, adrenal, pancreas, reproductive glands, as well as kidneys, liver, heart and gonads. For example, high cortisol levels, associated with depression, are reduced while serotonin levels increase. More than 12 studies, mentioned in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2010, indicate that massage reduces anxiety levels, as well as symptoms of depression, up to 50%.

Immune system. Massage enhances lymphocyte production, resulting in heightened immune response. Researchers in Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience carried out a study with 29 participants. The results showed that a 45-minute session of deep-tissue Swedish massage decreases cortisol levels, while it increases white blood cells.

Muscles. Another research, published in “Science Translational Medicine” in February 2012, claims that massage is a better option for reducing post-exercise muscle pain than any anti-inflammatory medication. Although this study involved only 11 participants, it proves the fact that our body has its own repair mechanism, which becomes stimulated by massage. It produces energy and pro-inflammatory compounds (cytokines) resulting in pain reduction. One study involved 12 adult recreational runners (8 males and 4 females) aged 24-51 years, who received massage therapy on a randomly chosen leg, while the other leg received no treatment at all. The tests done showed that in terms of soreness, strength and swelling, massage did not affect the recovery of the muscles. Nevertheless, 7 participants stated that they had a feeling that the massaged leg felt better after the recovery.

Source: Flickr

Back pain. Comparing massage to conventional medical treatments and painkillers, massage proves to be a more effective and safer way of treating lower back pain. Annals of Internal Medicine published a 10 week study in July 2011, which shows that 36% to 39% out of 401 middle-aged female participants with chronic back pain, who received massage therapy, experienced less or no pain when the study ended, as opposed to those who were taking painkillers, muscle relaxants and physical therapy.

It is in human nature that we want to have everything, here and right now. With the development of technology, massage chairs became an alternative to massage therapies. People opt for them because they can have them in their homes and use according to their schedules without having to make an appointment. These chairs are designed to provide massages with the effects similar to those given by the therapists. Some of them can perform massage techniques such as kneading, rolling, tapping, gripping and shiatsu.

Source: Flickr

Skin. Massage improves circulation and elasticity of the skin, reducing wrinkles and fine lines. The dead skin exfoliation, which is inevitable during a massage session, makes the skin look refreshed and younger. In addition, one study related to atopic dermatitis involved 20 children age 2-8 years, where some of the children received massage therapy alongside with the regular medication. After one month of such treatment, where each massage lasted for 20 minutes, the results showed the improvement concerning the symptoms, as well as children’ s anxiety and activity levels.

To sum it up, let us remember the words of Buddha:

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

Of course, keep in mind that massage should not be used as replacement for the existing treatments and if you need more information visit



Cite this article:
Edberg M (2014-10-15 11:04:28). Efficiency and Benefits of Massage Therapy. Australian Science. Retrieved: Jun 17, 2024, from http://ozscience.com/research-grants-and-programs/medical-and-health-sciences-research-grants-and-programs/efficiency-benefits-massage-therapy/