Therapeutic massage is a conscious, deliberate and formalised use of manipulation of the soft tissues of the body to produce beneficial effects on the nervous, muscular and circulatory systems.
The healing process in massage is often under-rated and is possibly a truly preventative holistic therapy, as it is able to effectively induce a state of relaxation by easing not only muscular tension directly related to physical pain, but often relates to psychological tension and repressed emotions. The soothing of physical tension has a reflex effect on psychological tension.
The beneficial effects of massage include its influence on the muscular tissues of the body. Manipulation of the muscles assists the circulation of the blood and lymph fluid, stimulating the organs of digestion, improving the performance of the lungs and skin. As muscular tone is improved so to are the nerves which supply them, including the spinal cord and brain.
The extent to which massage can influence the functioning of the body makes it a particularly effective therapy in potentially helping to treat disorders which are caused by the complexities of modern life. Massage increases awareness of the body and helps raise levels of energy, leading to an enhanced feeling of well-being. This is achieved through gentle, persistent focusing on the whole person providing a refreshed perspective on long-standing problems - regardless of whether they are physically based or psychologically induced.
The use of therapeutic massage is used as part of an agreed care plan to treat specific symptoms where evidence shows there may be benefit, e.g.:
Potential Physical Benefits of Therapeutic Massage
Potential Mental Benefits
Potential Emotional Benefits
Some available research evidence for massage:
Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T.,Goncalves, A., Burman, I. , Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.
Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., & Theakston, H. (2001). Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131-145.
Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., & Fraser, M. (2007). Lower back pain and sleep disturbance are reduced following massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy, 11, 141-145.
Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J. & Theakston, H.(2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31-38.
Anderson, C., Lis-Balchin, M., Kirk-Smith, M. (2000). Evaluation of massage with essential oils on childhood atopic eczema. Phytother. Res.
Baker, J. (1998). Essential oils: a complementary therapy in wound management. Jorn. Wound Care. Jul:7 (7): 355-7. Review.
Barbour, C. (2000). Use of complemenetary and alternative treatments by individuals with fibromyalgia syndrome. J. Am. Acad. Nurse Pract. Aug:12 (8): 311-6.
Booker, D.J., Snape, M., Johnson, E., Ward, D., Payne, M. (1997). Single case evaluation of the effects of aromatherapy and massage on disturbed behaviour in severe dementia. Br. J. Clin. Psychol. May;36(Pt2):287-96.
Buckle, J. (1999). Use of aromatherpy as a complementary treatment for chronic pain. Alter. Ther. Health Med. Sep;5(5):42-51. Review.
Dale, A., Cornwell, S. (1994). The role of lavender oil in relieving perineal discomfort following childbirth: a blind randomized clinical trial.J. Ad. Nurs. Jan;19(1):89-96.
Edge, J. (2003). A pilot study addressing the effect of aromatherapy massage on mood, anxiety and relaxation in adult mental health. Complement. Ther. Nurs. Midwifery. May;9(2):90-7.
Louis, M., Kowalski, S.D. (2002). Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being. Am. J. Hosp. Palliat. Care. Nove-Dec;19(6):381-6.
Ironson, G., Field, T.M., Scafidi, F., Hashimoto, M., Kumar, M., Kumar, A., Price, A., Goncalves, A., Burman, I. , Tetenman, C., Patarca, R. & Fletcher, M.A. (1996). Massage therapy is associated with enhancement of the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity. International Journal of Neuroscience, 84, 205-217.
Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Field, T., & Theakston, H. (1998). Multiple sclerosis patients benefit from massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2, 168-174.