Does massage actually do something: A look at some research.

There is lots of debate around what massage actually does to our body. Some camps argue that it is great for circulation. Others say it helps ease pain. Many advocate for it’s ability to increase flexibility. And some people say it does nothing at all.

The research however is out and there are some very real, and very reproducible, effects of massage therapy.

Does massage help with pain?

It most certainly does. A recent meta-analysis advocates massage therapy for pain related to chronic general pain, cancer, and surgery (Crawford et al., 2016a, 2016b, 2016c). With the current opioid epidemic, massage therapy is one avenue that is being commonly used in place of drugs to help patients manage their pain. Explore this article for a little more understanding into pain.

Does massage help with circulation?

A little bit. For the general population going outside for a brisk walk is much more effective at increasing circulation as well containing other cardiovascular health benefits (Tiidus & Shoemaker, 1995). However, for those with illness or are homebound, massage therapy can be an excellent option to help move the fluids of the body. Lymphatic massage can be exceptionally powerful for those dealing with lymph drainage issues(Ellis, 2006).

Does massage help with flexibility?

It can, however alone it won’t lead to anything prolonged. Flexibility is a combination of tissue health as well as central nervous system confidence in moving the joint through its range. Use or lose it so they say. If you don’t move your body through a full range of motion every day you can expect it to disappear over time. This where our home self-care and corrective exercise comes into play. Combining these together leads to tremendous improvements in range and more fluid motion(Arabaci, 2008; Mckechnie, Young, & Behm, 2007).

Does massage improve physical performance?

Massage can in a wide variety of ways. General deep tissue massage therapy will help with decreasing excessive muscle tone and inducing a parasympathetic response (relaxation). Sports massage therapy includes lots of movement and stretching which can help with joint range of motion and increased generation of power(Edman, 2012).

What’s the take away?

Massage has a wide variety of benefits and improves both health and overall quality of life. It should be viewed as a form of healthcare and therapy, not just as something you get to pamper yourself. To learn more about how massage therapy can benefit you and your lifestyle, give Hybrid Health a call today to set up a consultation.

 

References:

Arabaci, R. (2008). Acute effects of pre-event lower limb massage on explosive and high speed motor capacities and flexibility. ©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 7, 549–555. Retrieved from http://www.jssm.org
Crawford, C., Boyd, C., Paat, C. F., Price, A., Xenakis, L., Yang, E., & Zhang, W. (2016a). The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part I, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population. Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), pnw099. https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnw099
Crawford, C., Boyd, C., Paat, C. F., Price, A., Xenakis, L., Yang, E., & Zhang, W. (2016b). The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part II, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population. Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), pnw099. https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnw099
Crawford, C., Boyd, C., Paat, C. F., Price, A., Xenakis, L., Yang, E., & Zhang, W. (2016c). The Impact of Massage Therapy on Function in Pain Populations-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials: Part III, Patients Experiencing Pain in the General Population. Pain Medicine (Malden, Mass.), pnw099. https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnw099
Edman, K. A. P. (2012). Residual force enhancement after stretch in striated muscle. A consequence of increased myofilament overlap? The Journal of Physiology, 590(6), 1339–1345. https://doi.org/10.1113/jphysiol.2011.222729
Ellis, S. (2006). Structure and function of the lymphatic system: an overview. British Journal of Community Nursing, 11(4), S4-6. https://doi.org/10.12968/bjcn.2006.11.Sup6.22428
Mckechnie, G. J. B., Young, W. B., & Behm, D. G. (2007). Acute effects of two massage techniques on ankle joint flexibility and power of the plantar flexors. ©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 6, 498–504. Retrieved from http://www.jssm.org
Tiidus, P., & Shoemaker, J. (1995). Effleurage Massage, Muscle Blood Flow and Long-Term Post-Exercise Strength Recovery. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 16(7), 478–483. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-973041

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