Health Benefits of Massage Therapy

What are some of the specific benefits of massage therapy?

Massage therapy has been used as an effective treatment for thousands of years. Science is finally starting to catch up to this natural therapy and researchers are conducting studies to measure the effects of massage on the body.

Tiffany Field and her team of researchers at Touch Research Institute have done many studies on the effects of massage on the body and mind, how it affects us on a cellular level and what this means in regard to health and treatment of illness and disease. Massage therapy has shown:

  • Decreased pain (e.g. fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome)
  • Decreased autoimmune problems (increased pulmonary function in asthma and decreased glucose levels in diabetes)
  • Enhanced immune function (increased natural killer cells in HIV and cancer, improved CD4 numbers and CD4/CD8 ratio in HIV; WBC and neutrophil counts increased in children with leukemia)
  • Enhanced accuracy, alertness, and performance (EEG pattern of alertness and better performance on math computations)
  • Decreased anxiety and stress (reduced levels of cortisol in saliva post massage)
  • Improved mood / lessened depression
  • Increased levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain
  • Eased labor (massaged mothers had shorter labors, shorter hospital stay, and less postpartum depression)
  • Improved health in the elderly
  • Improved growth in neonates (massage helps them to grow and thrive)
  • Improved quality of sleep / reduced rates of sleep disturbance
  • Lessened frequency and intensity of migraine headaches
  • Relieved premenstrual symptoms (reduce pain, water retention, and overall menstrual distress)
  • Improved behavior in children with Autism, Asperger’s, & ADD/ADHD (children massaged showed less stereotypical behavior, were more attentive and on-task, showed more social relatedness behavior and fewer sleep problems)
  • Lessened cerebral palsy symptoms (reduce spasticity, less rigid muscle tone, improved fine and gross motor function; also noted were improved cognition, social, and dressing scores, and the children also showed more positive facial expressions during play interactions)
  • Decreased symptoms of atopic dermatitis in children (significant improvement seen in redness, scaling, lichenification, excoriation, and pruritus)
  • Improved motor function and muscle tone in children with Down syndrome (also showed less severe limb hypotonicity)
  • Reduced PTSD in children and adults (improved mood, less anxiety and stress hormones)

Source: Touch Research Institute, http://www6.miami.edu/touch-research/Research.html

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