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Massage therapy is commonly used for relaxation and pain relief, in addition to a variety of health conditions such as osteoarthritis1, fibromyalgia2, and inflammation after exercise.3 Massage therapy can also be an effective therapy for aspects of mental health. Recent research suggests that symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression may be positively affected with massage therapy.
Below are some recent research findings which highlight the role of massage therapy in mental health and wellness, compiled by the American Massage Therapy Association.
Massage Therapy for Depression in Individuals With HIV
Research published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine4 indicates that massage therapy can reduce symptoms of depression for individuals with HIV disease. The study lasted eight weeks, and results show massage significantly reduced the severity of depression beginning at week four and continuing at weeks six and eight. American Massage Therapy Association President Winona Bontrager says of the study, “This research suggests that regular therapeutic massage could be a useful tool in the integrated treatment of depression for patients with HIV.” Read more »
Massage Therapy to Reduce Anxiety in Cancer Patients Receiving Chemotherapy
Research published in Applied Nursing Research5 shows that back massage given during chemotherapy can significantly reduce anxiety and acute fatigue. “This research demonstrates the potential value of massage therapy within the full cancer treatment spectrum, particularly during the often mentally and physically exhausting chemotherapy process,” says American Massage Therapy Association President Winona Bontrager. Read more »
Massage Therapy for Reduced Anxiety and Depression in Military Veterans
Research published in Military Medicine6 reports that military veterans indicated significant reductions in ratings of anxiety, worry, depression and physical pain after massage. Analysis also suggests declining levels of tension and irritability following massage. This pilot study was a self-directed program of integrative therapies for National Guard personnel to support reintegration and resilience after return from Iraq or Afghanistan. Read more »
Massage Therapy for Nurses to Reduce Work-Related Stress
Research published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice shows that massage for nurses during work hours can help to reduce stress and related symptoms, including headaches, shoulder tension, insomnia, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. “This study affirms the important role massage therapy can play in the work setting, in this case to ease stress for health care providers who, in turn, can better provide optimal patient care,” says Bontrager. Read more »
1. Perlman A, Ali A, Njike VY, et al. Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e30248.
2. Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.
3. J. D. Crane, D. I. Ogborn, C. Cupido, S. Melov, A. Hubbard, J. M. Bourgeois, M. A. Tarnopolsky, Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 119ra13 (2012).
4. Polane RE, Gertsik L, Favreau JT, et al. Open-label, randomized, parallel-group controlled clinical trial of massage for treatment of depression in HIV-infected subjects. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.2013 Apr;19(4):334-40. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0058.
5. Karagozoglu S, Kahve E. Effects of back massage on chemotherapy-related fatigue and anxiety: Supportive care and therapeutic touch in cancer nursing. Applied Nursing Research. 2013 Sep;19. pii: S0897-1897(13)00070-0. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2013.07.002.
6. Collinge W, Kahn J, Soltysik R. Promoting reintegration of National Guard veterans and their partners using a self-directed program of integrative therapies: a pilot study. Military Medicine. 2012 Dec;177(12):1477-85.
7. Engen DJ, Wahner-Roedler DL, Vincent A, et al. Feasibility and effect of chair massage offered to nurses during work hours on stress-related symptoms: a pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2012 Nov;18(4):212-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2012.06.002.