Massage therapy is a proven, non invasive way to reduce chronic stress levels in the body. Dozens of studies have shown the effectiveness of massage therapy in reducing stress and millions of people avail themselves to the services of massage therapists to treat stress. Using massage to reduce stress is natural and safe and unlike some forms of alternative therapies, massage therapy is a proven discipline within the medical community with scientific evidence supporting the use of massage for stress management.
What is Stress?
Stress is your body’s way of responding to a physical or emotional demand. Everyone experiences increased stress levels at one time or another. In fact, the body’s ability to react to stressful situations and deal with threats is critical to our survival. However, when one is under long term stress caused by ongoing situations such as work or family problems, financial concerns, etc. the body will be in a constant heighten state – a state which has harmful effects on many bodily systems including the immune system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system, reproductive system, etc.
Does massage therapy reduce stress?
The answer to this question is unequivocally yes – massage therapy does reduce stress levels. According to The Franklin Institute web site on the human brain and stress, “Massage releases endorphins that calm the peripheral nervous system.” The Mayo Clinic website identifies massage as a valid medical method to reduce stress and pain. It goes on to say, “Massage reduced anxiety in depressed children and anorexic women. It also reduced anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in adults trying to quit smoking.”
In fact there are many studies that have proven the effectiveness of massage in reducing stress in various situations:
- In October 2008 the journal Psychooncology published a study entitled, “Massage in patients undergoing intensive chemotherapy reduces serum cortisol and prolactin.” The conclusion of the study stated, “…a significant reduction in cortisol (stress hormone) could be safely achieved through massage, with associated improvement in psychological well-being.”
- In May 2008 The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry published a study entitled, “Pilot study evaluating the effect of massage therapy on stress, anxiety and aggression in a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit.” The study concluded that “Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures.”
Below is a part of an abstract from a study of massage for stressed employees:
Shulman, K.R. & Jones, G.E. (1996). The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the work place. Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 32, 160-173.
METHOD: An on-site chair massage therapy program was provided to reduce anxiety levels of 18 employees in a downsizing organization. 15 control group Ss participated in break therapy. Subjects’ stress levels were measured with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, which was administered twice during pretest, post test, and delayed post test to achieve stable measures. RESULTS: Significant reductions in anxiety levels were found for the massage group.
The above are just a few of the dozens of clinical studies proving the effectiveness of massage therapy in treating stress related disorders. Yes, massage therapy is a proven, mainstream, medically based, non evasive way to physically reduce harmful levels of stress hormones in the body while increasing levels of endorphins.
Add to this the additional benefits of massage therapy including the reduction of general muscle tension and pain and you may find that massage therapy can be the treatment of choice in dealing with everyday stress.