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Most of us think of massage as indulgence. We get one as a treat, and if we’re really lucky, our spouse might give us a massage at the end of a long, hard day just to make us feel nice. And it’s true, they do feel nice. However, what you may not realize is that there are a whole range of other benefits massage can give you. Be warned though, if you continue reading, you may not be able to make any further excuses about why you should put off getting one.
We have analysed over 40 studies on massage therapy and what we found is that there have been a group of benefits proven across all research papers:
- reduction in anxiety
- reduction in pain (immediate and delayed)
- reduction in depression
- reduction in stress hormone (cortisol)
- reduction in heart rate
- reduction in blood pressure
- increased circulation
- increased relaxation
- increased feelings of well being
Reductions in anxiety and depression were massage therapy’s largest effects, with a course of treatment stated as providing benefits similar in magnitude to those of psychotherapy.
The authors of several papers expect that greater reductions in these conditions will be associated with higher doses of massage therapy, in the form of minutes of massage therapy administered per session. Also, massage therapy effects are not expected to vary according to the age or gender of participants.
In addition, research has shown that the benefits of massage therapy are applicable in the following clinical conditions:
- postoperative pain
- juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- back pain
- migraine headache
- multiple sclerosis
- spinal cord injury
- attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- eating disorders
- chronic fatigue
- breast cancer
With most health funds offering rebates in massage therapy, it’s obvious that its use is becoming more acknowledged, more widespread and more available. You don’t have to convince us to get one regularly!
Psychological Bulletin Copyright 2004 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 2004, Vol. 130, No. 1, 3–18 0033-2909/04/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.130.1.3