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Research Citations on the Efficacy of Massage Therapy

A growing body of research confirms the efficacy of massage for a variety of illnesses and ailments. Massage has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rate; increase cytotoxic capacity (activity level of the body’s natural "killer cells"); enhance weight gain in pre-term infants; increase lymph flow and reduce edema; relieve and reduce certain types of back pain; and, reduce anxiety and relieve stress.

Circulatory & Respiratory Systems
  1. Beeken, J., et. al. Effectiveness of Neuromuscular Release Massage Therapy on Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease. Clin. Nurs. Research. 7(3): 309-325; Augt 1998.

    Massage increases thoracic gas volume, peak flow and forced vital capacity.

    1. Cady, S.H., Jones, G.E. Massage Therapy as a Workplace Intervention for Reduction of Stress. Perceptual and Motor Skills. 84(1): 157-158; Feb 1997.

      Massage reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

      1. Curtis, M. The Use of Massage in Restoring Cardiac Rhythm. Nurs. Times (England). 90 (38): 36-37; Sept 21-27, 1994.

        Massage reduces heart rate.

        1. Fakouri, C., Jones,  P. Relaxation Rx: Slow Stroke Back Rub. J. of Geron. Nurs. 13 (2): 32-35; Feb 1987.

          Massage reduces blood pressure and heart rate.


          Back Pain

          1. Cherkin, D.C., Eisenberg, D., et.al. Randomized Trial Comparing Traditional Chinese Medical Acupuncture, Therapeutic Massage, and Self-care Education for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 161(8):1081-8; Apr 23, 2001.

          2. Preyde, M. Effectiveness of Massage Therapy for Subacute Low-back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial. CMAJ. 162(13):1815-20; Jn 27, 2000.


          1. Morian, A, Garrison, D, Keeney Smith, N, (2008), Range of Motion Improves after Massage in Children with Burns: a pilot study, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 12, 67-71.


          1. Alberts, W., (2007) " Supplement on the American College of Chest Physician's Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Lung Cancer." Chest, 132: 1S-19S.

          2. Wilkinson, S. Aromatherapy and Massage in Palliative Care. Int. J. Palliat. Nurs. 1 (1): 21-30; Jan/Mar 1995.

          Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

          1. Comparison of a Targeted and General Massage Protocol on Strength, Function, and Symptoms Associated with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: A Randomized Pilot Study   Albert Moraska, Clint Chandler, Amanda Edmiston-Schaetzel, Gaye Franklin, Elaine L. Calenda, Brian Enebo.  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April 1, 2008: 259-267.

          Chronic Illness or Pain

          1. Kempson, D, Conley, V, Family Caregiver Provided Massage for Rural-Dwelling Chronically Ill Persons, Home Health Care Management & Practice Online, November, 2008.

          2. Piotrowski, M., Paterson, C., Mitchinson, A., Kim, H. M., Kirsh, M., Hinshaw, D. B. (2003). Massage as Adjuvant Therapy in the Management of Acute Postoperative  Pain: A Preliminary Study in Men. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 197(6), 1037-1046.

          Circulatory & Respiratory Systems

          1. Anderson, Patricia G. MS, RN, Cutshall, Susanne M. CNS, MS, RN, (2007) " Massage Therapy: A Comfort Intervention for Cardiac Surgery Patients." Clinical Nurse Specialist, 21(3): 161-165.


          1. ( 2005) "CAM Health Services and Policy Research in Canada - New Directions: Abstracts from the First Annual IN-CAM Symposium, December 4 & 5, 2004, Toronto, Canada", Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine: Vol. 2: No. 1, Article 3.
          2. (2005) "CAM Research in Canada: Sharing Successes and Challenges - Abstracts from the 2nd Annual IN-CAM Symposium, November 12 & 13, 2005, Toronto, Canada", Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine: Vol.2: No.1, Article 12.
          3. Buckle, J, Newberg, A, Wintering, N, Hutton, E, Lido, C, Farrar, J, Measurement of Regional Cerebral Blood Flow Associated with the M Technique-Light Massage Therapy: A Case Series and Longitudinal Study using SPECT,  The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2008:14(8).

          4. "Cell Biology Meets Rolfing" by David Grimm-Biomedical Research. Volume 318(5854):1234-5, Science 23 November 2007. BOSTON--A diverse group of researchers wants to create a new discipline from scratch by bringing together experts in fascia and deep-tissue massage.

          5. Price, Cynthia (2005) " Body-Oriented Therapy in Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse: An Efficacy Study." Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine: 11(5).“This article appears courtesy of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, a publication of InnoVision Health Media, Inc., © 2005. All right reserved.

          6. ”Willinsky J, Quint-Rapoport M, (2007) " How Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners Use PubMed." J Med Internet Res: 9(2):e19.

          Hospice Care

          1. Beider, Shay (2005). An Ethical Argument for Integrated Palliative Care. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

          2. Kozak, L, Kayes, L, McCarty, R, Walkinshaw, C, Congdon, S, Kleinberger, J, Hartman, V, Standish, L, Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) by Washington State Hospices, American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, December/January, 2009: 25(6).

          Immune Function

          1. Billhult A, Lindholm C, Gunnarsson R, Stener-Victorin E. The effect of massage on immune function and stress in women with breast cancer - A randomized controlled trial. Auton Neurosci. 2009 Apr 17.

          2. Zeitlin, D., et.al. Immunological Effects of Massage Therapy During Academic Stress. Psychosomatic Medicine. 62:83-87; Jan/Feb 2000.

          Infants and Children

          1. Beider S, Mahrer NE, Gold JI. Pediatric massage therapy: an overview for clinicians. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2007 Dec;54(6):1025-41; xii-xiii. Review. PMID: 18061789 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE].

          2. Field, T. Massage Therapy for Infants and Children. J. Dev. Behav. Pediatr. 16 (2): 105-11; Apr 1995.

            Shay Bieder and Christopher A. Moyer (2006) " Randomized Controlled Trials of Pediatric Massage: A Review."Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.


          1. Bunce, I.H., Mirolo, B.R., Hennessy, J.M., et. al. Post-mastectomy Lymphedema Treatment and Measurement. Med. J. Aust. 161: 125-28; 1994.

          2. Kriederman B, Myloyde T, Bernas M, Lee-Donaldson L, Preciado S, Lynch M, Stea B, Summers P, Witte C, Witte M. Limb volume reduction after physical treatment by compression and/or massage in a rodent model of peripheral lymphedema. Lymphology. 2002 Mar;35(1):23-7.


          1. Baumann, J.U. Effect of Manual Medicine in the Treatment of Cerebral Palsy. Manuelle Medizin (Berlin). 34:127-133; 1996.

            Ezzo, Jeanette PhD, CMT; Haraldsson, Bodhi G., RMT; Gross, Anita R. MSc; Myers, Cynthia D. PhD, LMT; Morien, Annie PhD, PA-C, LMT; Goldsmith, Charlie H. PhD; Bronfort, Gert PhD, DC; Peloso, Paul M. MD, MSc; the Cervical Overview Group (2007) " Massage for Mechanical Neck Disorders: A Systematic Review." Spine.

          2. Karen J. Sherman, Marian W. Dixon, Diana Thompson and Daniel C. Cherkin (2006) " Development of a Taxonomy to Describe Massage Treatments for Musculoskeletal Pain", BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

          3. Sunshine, W., Field, T., et. al. Fibromyalgia Benefits From Massage Therapy and Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation. J. Clin. Rheum. 2(1): 18-22; Feb 1996.


          1. Mei-dan E, Walfisch A, Raz I, Levy A, Hallak M.Perineal massage during pregnancy: a prospective controlled trial. Isr Med Assoc J. 2008 Jul;10(7):531-3.

          2. Nabb MT, Kimber L, Haines A, McCourt C.Does regular massage from late pregnancy to birth decrease maternal pain perception during labour and birth?--A feasibility study to investigate a programme of massage, controlled breathing and visualization, from 36 weeks of pregnancy until birth.Psychological/Emotional. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2006 Aug;12(3):222-31. Epub 2006 Jun 5.

          Sports Medicine

          1. Hawaiian Athletes Choose Massage. (2005) www.massagetoday.com.

          2. Moraska, Albert (2005) "Sports Massage: A Comprehensive Review." The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness: 45(3).

          3. Smith, L.L., et.al. The Effects of Athletic Massage on Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, Creatine Kinase, and Neutrophil Count: A Preliminary Report. J. Orthop Sports Phys. Ther. 19 (2): 93-99; Feb 1994.

          Stress Reduction

          1. Culpepper-Richards, K., Effect of a Back Massage and Relaxation Intervention on Sleep in Critically Ill Patients. Am. J. Crit. Care. 7(4): 288-299; Jul 1998.

          2. Korn, L, Logsdon, R, Polissar, N, Gomez-Beloz, A, Waters, T, Rÿser, R, A Randomized Trial of a CAM Therapy for Stress Reduction in American Indian and Alaskan Native Family Caregivers, The Gerontologist Advance Access, April 18, 2009.

          3. Physiological Adjustments to Stress Measures Following Massage Therapy: A Review of the Literature. Albert Moraska; Robin A. Pollini; Karen Boulanger; Marissa Z. Brooks; Lesley Teitlebaum. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008; doi: 10.1093/ecam/nen029.

          4. Shulman, K.R., Jones, G.E. The Effectiveness of Massage Therapy Intervention on Reducing Anxiety in the Workplace. J. Applied Behav. Sc. 32(2): 160-173; Jn 1996.

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