Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Massage for Anxiety

We all know that massage therapy is great at working out
trigger points, regaining mobility to stiff joints, and
easing scar tissue contracture, but the effects of massage
go so much deeper than superficial tissue.

There are more and more studies supporting the use of
massage therapy for decreasing anxiety, lowering blood
pressure and heart rate, and even enhanced mental alertness!
(1) (2) (3)

When I give my boy a massage, he gets so calm and relaxed.
His eyes just stare off into space, and there is such a look
of peace on his face, that it actually relaxes me too!

One study of massage therapy in asthmatic children (4)
showed a decrease in cortisol (stress hormone) and anxiety
levels, as well as improved pulmonary functions following
treatment. Anyone who has or knows a child with asthma has
seen how stressful this condition can be –not only for the
child but the parents as well!

Another study of mothers who received massage (5) showed
decreased depression, anxiety, and pain. They also
experienced shorter labors, and shorter hospital stays.

Fibromyalgia patients who received massage reported better
sleep, lower anxiety levels and less depression. (6)

Anyone who has had a massage treatment knows that it feels
good, and that you feel relaxed after, but it really does
affect your health on a much more profound level!

So don’t wait until you have shoulder or low back pain to
get a massage. If regular massage therapy can help blood
pressure, cortisol levels, hear rate and anxiety then it
should be just as important to your health maintenance
program as eating right and exercising! Everyone should
have regular treatments, just for the health of it!

References:
(1) Field T, Ironson G, Scafidi F, Nawrocki T, Goncalves A,
Pickens J, Fox N, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. 1996a. Massage
therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of
alertness and math computations. Int J Neurosc 86: 197-205
(2) Mok D, Woo CP. 2004 Nov. The effects of slow-stroke back
massage on anxiety and shoulder pain in elderly stroke
patients. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery 10 (4): 209-16
(3) Moyer CA, Rounds J, Hannum JW. 2004 A meta-analysis of
massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin Jan;
130(1): 3-18
(4) Field T, Henteleff T, Hernandez-Reif M, Martinez E,
Mavunda K, Kuhn C, Schanberg S. 1998b. Children with asthma
have improved pulmonary functions after massage therapy. J
Pediatr 132:854-858.
(5) Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Taylor S, Quintano O, Burnam
I. 1997c. Lavor pain is reduced by massage therapy. J
Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol 18:286-291.
(6) Sunshine W, Field T, Quintino O, Fierro K, Kuhn C,
Bruman I, Schanberg S. 1996. Fibromyalgia benefits from
massage therapy and transcutaneous electrical stimulation.
Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 2(1): 18-22.

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