The Health Benefits of Massage
Massage has long been used as a tool for pain relief, promotion of mobility, relaxation and stress relief. It is often recommended for healthy drug free sleep. But if there any scientific basis for these claims? In short, the answer is yes, there is. In fact, massage is shown to have a wide variety of physical and mental health benefits.
Let us look at the evidence.
Massage relieves pain
There are numerous studies which explore the relationship between massage and pain relief.
Of particular interest is a Cochrane Review which identified 13 trials for low back pain. Afterwards, the authors concluded that massage is beneficial in treating sub-acute and chronic pain back, especially when combined with exercise and education. Incredibly, they also reported that the beneficial effects of massage may last for more than a year after treatment.
There are other, similar studies. One paper published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrates how massage can alleviate pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. Another paper, published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, found that massage improves pain in adults with arthritis of the wrist and hand.
We could cite further examples, but you get the picture.
Massage improves mobility
Along with alleviating pain, massage has also been shown to improve mobility. According to Natural Standard, an international research collaboration, massage increases blood circulation and stimulates the healing of connective tissues and damaged muscles.
Researcher G. C. Goats agrees that massage restores normal muscle activity and re-establishes function. In a paper published in the Journal of Sports Medicine, he reports that massage an effective tool for rehabilitation and performance maintenance. Because of this, massage is especially useful for athletes and those nursing a sports injury.
Massage boosts the immune system
It’s not just our joints, muscles and ligaments that benefit from massage – it can also boost the immune system. This was discovered by the BBC’s TV show Trust Me I’m a Doctor. It performed a controlled study which showed patients enjoyed an increase in T-lymphocytes (white blood cell) production after massage, demonstrating positive effects on the immune system.
Scientists commented that “T-lymphocytes do perform a wide array of functions in the body involved with growth and repair, which could in part explain why massage has been reported to help with so many conditions.”
Massage reduces stress and anxiety
Along with physical benefits, massage has mental health benefits, too. Many cultures use massage as a form of relaxation and stress-relief. Of course, it is a good way to pamper yourself. But it seems there might be a bit more to it than that.
In a paper titled ‘Massage Therapy Research Review’, T. Field highlights how during MRI scans, patients subject to moderate pressure massage demonstrated changes in several brain regions. This includes the amygdala, the hypothalamus and the anterior cingulate cortex, which she says are ‘all areas involved in stress and emotional regulation’. She also confirms that moderate pressure massage has been shown to reduce depression, anxiety, heart rate and cortisol levels.
Some say that complementary therapies are only beneficial due to the placebo effect. However, if the science is to be believed, massage has as a positive impact on both a physical and biochemical level.
At Marble Hill, we have experienced first-hand the health benefits of massage. It’s not magic, but we have found it helps with pain relief, stress relief and sleep.
Because of this, we worked alongside Senior Orthopaedic Surgeon Mr Henry McGee to develop a trusted massage oil. The final product – called CannaFlex – is a premium blend of undiluted plant oils. Being made out of 100% natural ingredients, it nourishes the skin and is safe to use alongside other medication. This ensures people of all ages and states of health can enjoy the health benefits of massage.