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Four Benefits of Massage Therapy

February 17, 2014 General 0 Comments

Four Benefits of Massage TherapyIf you are pursuing a career as a massage therapist, you have chosen a profession that will help relieve the suffering of many. According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), emerging research suggests the benefits of massage therapy may encompass the alleviation of a broad range of physical and mental maladies. While further studies are needed to confirm positive effects in some conditions, here are some areas in which treatment shows promise.

Massage Reduces Anxiety and Depression

Research indicates massage can improve mental health. USA Today reports that a review of studies show treatment reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol by 50 percent. Additionally, massage raises levels of two neurotransmitters shown to relieve depression. These findings may explain why massage has helped people with anxiety disorders, relieved stress-related insomnia, calmed patients before surgery and lessened depression and stress in cancer patients. Recently, massage students from Sanford Brown helped reduce the stress of medical students undergoing final exams at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

Massage Relieves Pain

The Mayo Clinic lists several painful conditions for which massage may be helpful. These include headaches, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, nerve pain, sports injuries and soft tissue sprains. In a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine involving people with chronic lower back pain, participants who received a one-hour massage once a week for 10 weeks experienced better function and more pain relief than those who received traditional treatments.

Massage May Improve Immunity

Preliminary studies on breast cancer patients published in Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical and on premature babies published in Pediatrics suggest a full-body massage may enhance immune function. Scientists believe this benefit is attained by raising the activity levels of T cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight viruses and tumors.

Massage May Reduce Blood Pressure

A small study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research found women with mildly elevated blood pressure who received three 10-minute massages a week for a total of 10 sessions experienced a greater reduction in blood pressure than those who relaxed without receiving massages. Another study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork on 35 older adults showed massage helped lower their blood pressure.

Aside from the benefits of massage therapy listed above, the AMTA indicates the treatment may also have the potential to help with allergies, addictions, autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, burns and AIDS. As scientific evidence of the field's value in the treatment of illness has amassed, a growing number of physicians and hospitals are embracing massage as a valuable part of the healthcare system. Based on the research, you are preparing for work that will foster greater wellness for those in your care.

Photo credit: Flickr.

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