More Specific Benefits of Massage

Stress

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), stress is causing the loss of productivity, absenteism, turnover and increased medical costs and is costing business $300 billion a year. In August 2008, well before the biggest stock market fall in four years, The APA completed its survey, Stress in America. The levels of stress felt by Americans due to the financial downturn can wreak significant havoc on health.

Effects of stress on the body

The most obvious health impacts of stress include fatigue, lack of interest and motivation, feeling depressed, headaches and muscular tension. Over half of Americans say stress has caused them to lose sleep in the past month.

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What are the benefits of massage for stress? by Eshe Asale

Pain Control

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General Benefits and Wellness

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Surgical Recovery

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Lymphatic Drainage Benefits

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Lymphatic drainage massage reduces swelling and pain, promotes healing of injuries and scars, and gives a boost to your immune system to help your body prevent illnesses. Consider getting a lymphatic drainage massage before each season change to help your body fight off the colds going around at that time.

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Arthritis

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Diabetes

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"A history of high blood sugar thickens connective tissue. Massage helps increase tissue mobility and elasticity, reversing the thickening effect of uncontrolled glucose levels. This tissue inflexibility can manifest as stiffness in muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as decreased range of motion in the joints. Massage therapy can significantly counter this effect. Additional factors to encourage flexibility and support the myofascial systemís health include range of motion techniques, stretching and the inclusion of a regular exercise program." (Source: Safe and Effective Diabetes Massage by Nicole Cutler)

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Fibromyalgia

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  • Massage Helps Fibromyalgia
  • "Many fibromyalgia symptoms -- pain, stiffness, fatigue, depression -- can be relieved with massage therapy. Now, researchers say they understand why. Massage alters the sleep pattern, which reduces levels of the chemical messenger for pain."
  • Fancy a Massage? by Kathy Longley
  • Some caveats from my experience working with clients who have fibromyalgia:
    Don't expect a miracle from one massage session or even a month of massage sessions. Massage can be helpful, but massage is an ongoing palliative - how long relief lasts before muscles tense up again will be different from one person to another, but ultimately they do tense up again. If massage is helpful in your case, you should expect to receive it on an ongoing basis. It is not a cure, but part of a process towards wellness - initially you may only find moments of relief, but gradually duration and areas of pain relief can expand and accumulate.
    Everyone with fibromyalgia is different. Everyone has a different depth of treatment that they can tolerate. Finding a level that does not aggravate pain later is an iterative process. It almost always feels so good to go after every latent tender point while the you are on the table, but if too much is done at one time, the likelihood of a pain flare 1-3 days later is increased. For one person, 15 minutes of standard Swedish massage might be too much. A few months of sessions composed of light massage based on lymph drainage with no trigger point work might be a better choice for that person until the body is capable of processing more intense forms of massage. For another person, an hour of deep tissue work might have no deleterious effects.
    How your body reacts to exercise can help predict how it might react to massage, but there is no way to know for sure without trying. Speaking of exercise, massage is not a substitute for exercise. The two together are more powerful than either alone. Exercise increases levels of serotonin and growth hormone, and increases blood flow to the muscles. Take baby steps to build up from a few minutes a day to half an hour a day. Be easy with yourself. In the long run, it doesn't matter if it takes a month or a year - if you try to go too fast, the resulting flare-ups might discourage you from exercising at all.

  • Massage for Fibromyalgia: A Therapist's Point of View by Sharon Muzio
  • Treating Fibromyalgia: Massage Therapy as a Beneficial Tool By Ross Turchaninov and Boris Prilutsky
  • Fibromyalgia - Fact or Fiction By Erik Dalton
  • What about Lyrica?
  • The Role of Guaifenesin in Fibromyalgia
  • "People with fibromyalgia often have flare ups of their symptoms, sometimes due to extraneous factors, but other times seemingly out of nowhere. Interestingly, people with fibromyalgia who have higher pain levels, were shown to have less frequent flares than those with lower pain levels. "
  • Fibromyalgia (FM) Flares Occur Less Frequently in Patients with High Levels of Pain and Distress.Roland Staud, Euna Koo, Rahul Patel, Miguel E. Rodriguez, Michael E. Robinson. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL .

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Fluid Dynamics

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Let's back up a second to an experience you may have had with a broken bone and cast or sprain and sling. For those who have had rigid structures limiting their joint movement while healing, do you remember the day the cast came off and how the muscle atrophy (shrinkage) was so easy to see when comparing the "fused" and mobile appendages? Here's the thing with muscles, they need movement at the joints in order to maintain tone, tissue health, and fluid content. No joint movement, no muscle tone. (Source: Katy Bowman)

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Medication has Side Effects

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Evidence-Based or Outcomes-Based: Efficacy and Economic Benefits

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Benefits of Frequency

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  • Like most forms of natural therapy, a single session usually creates temporary relief, but almost never creates lasting positive change, especially for chronic conditions; what is effective is a course of treatment, which means frequent and regular massage over a period of time.
  • The Benefits of Frequent Massage (pdf brochure)

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Massage Therapy vs. Physical Therapy

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Q: What does a massage therapist do that a physical therapist doesn't?

A: A massage therapist focuses on the normalization of soft tissues affected by stress, injury, and illness through the use of manual techniques that improve circulation, enhance muscular relaxation, relieve pain, reduce stress, enhance immune function, or promote health and well-being. Massage therapists specialize in the use and application of therapeutic massage techniques. Generally, a physical therapist concentrates on rehabilitation of physical damage caused by illness and injury through the use of various modalities, including electrical, mechanical and ultrasound devices; therapeutic and rehabilitative exercise; and manual techniques.
Source: AMTA and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

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Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and you should not consider this page to be medical advice. This is merely a collection of information I've gathered from various sources over the years.