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Massage therapy, health benefits and risks, why massage therapy is the best?

Updated on August 24, 2012
healing power of your hands
healing power of your hands

What is massage therapy? What are the health benefits? How massage therapy heals back pain?

Of all healing methods available today, massage therapy is considered the most fundamental. It is very much basic and easy in nature that we do it automatically. Massage is the most naturally healing technique that can be done. The studies on massaging have revealed that it reduces stress, reduces depression, mitigates pain, and rejuvenates the immune system. It also helps pre-mature babies catch up in their development. With a touch we do communicate care and nurture one another. Massage is not simply a profession for certain people; instead it is a part of the healing touch we all possess, a magic of human warmth and therapeutic power of human body.

History of massage therapy

The therapeutic use of massaging goes back as far as mankind. Ancient Romans, Greek, and Oriental medical treatises explain how and when massage should be done. The popularity of massage therapy declined in the Western world in the middle ages as the church considered body as sinful. However, by the 1800, a new interest in massage was initiated inSweden, and there came up numerous popular modalities of therapeutic massage and bodywork. In July 2001 American Massage Therapy Association took a survey and found out that the number of adults depending on massages from a massage therapist for back pain doubled since 1997.

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Therapeutic benefits of Massage therapy Why massage therapy is the best?

Massage therapy is the most trusted remedy for lower back pain. It is a legitimate and recognized therapy. Massage therapy is very effective in lower back treatments. Nearly half of the healthcare providers recommend massage therapy for their patients in addition to other medical treatments.

In 2001 Touch Research Institute at theUniversityofMiamiorganized a study on massage and back pain and discovered that “Massage lessened lower back pain, depression and anxiety, and improved sleep. The massage therapy group also showed improved range of motion and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.”

Benefits of massage therapy

There are numerous benefits for massage therapy. The research conducted by

American Massage Therapy Association proved the important health benefits of massage therapy. Massaging would help the blood circulation, which would help the recovery of muscle soreness resulting from physical activity. Massaging also would help the muscles relax for a better range of motion. The muscle relaxation helps with insomnia too.

Massage of the body part also would help increased endorphin levels. One of the most important benefits of massage therapy is the increase of endorphin levels. It is the production of endorphins (chemicals) in the body that makes one feel good. It is very effective in managing chronic pain.

Innumerable types massage treatment has been employed in different medical practices to reduce the symptoms of back pain. The most common form of massage treatment as a symptomatic treatment for backpain is classicmuscular (Swedish) massage. The therapeutic modality, the effectiveness and safety, the action mechanisms and effectiveness of this treatment is fantastic

Swedish massage

Swedish massage is a purely a touch therapy which make use of a wide range of techniques to move and influence the tender tissues of the body. Some of the techniques include effleurage (slow rhythmic stroking), friction (giving pressure through finger tips by making circular movements of massaging), and petrissage (strong skin rolling). Other methods include kneading (circular compression during massaging) and tapotement (percussive movements in massage). Vibration technique (moving hands in trembling manner) is yet another technique. In European countries, massage treatment is deemed as a conventional method of treatment. However, in other English speaking nations, this is considered as a complementary or alternative form of therapy. TakingAustriaas an example, 87% of patients with back painopt for nothing but massage treatment.

How massage therapy cures back pain

A recent evaluation of massage treatment for back pain explained five different randomized clinical trials on the back pain issue, out of which threeare of high methodological quality.One particular study comparedmassage therapy to detuned laser therapy as placebo. Other trialscompared massage therapy with various other physical therapies like acupuncture or spinal manipulation. The studies concluded that massageis superior to placebo, acupuncture, relaxation treatment, orself care education and other mode of back pain treatments and its benefits would last at least for one year. The researchers are of the opinion that massage therapy is highly beneficial for subacute as well as chronic non-specific low back pain problems. In another similar study, patients with ‘non-inflammatory rheumatic pain’ (not ordinaryback pain) were randomized to perform ten sessions of classicmassage or usual medical care continuously for five weeks.During the end of the trial period, even though both groups experienced significant relief, at the end of threemonths, the group that practiced massage therapy experienced significant pain relief.

This report, however, is not easy to interpret. Some techniques are methodologically weak, some of the techniques used control interventions with uncertain effectiveness, and certain other methods tested massage apart from Swedish massage. Some other trials allowed concomitantinterventions and different trials were conducted on patients suffering from back pain. Back pain cannot be taken as a disease entityinstead as a symptom and further studies on back pain and related ailments should aim at finding if some types of patients respond better to the treatment than others. The result of the overallstudy implied that the result of massagetherapy for the symptomatic relief of back pain is encouraging but not compelling. If other conditionsfor which massage has been tested in controlled clinical trials are also considered, similar conclusions would be reached.

Massage therapy risks – possible problems associated with massage

Most massage therapists try to convince people that massage treatment is free of risk. This is not but absolutely true. Exerting too much force can bring fracturesof osteoporotic bones and may even result into rupture of the liver. There were cases in which nerves were associated with massages. Massage therapy, however, is relatively safe and these sorts of ill effects are very rare. Massage should be done only by well trained therapists so that they do deal properly with different types of pain. Care should be given for different issues like phlebitis, skin burns, skin allergies and infections, deepvein thrombosis, bruises,bone fractures, muscle problems, eczema, advanced osteoporosis, and sprains.

How massage therapy cures back pain problem?

Massage therapy work against the back pain problem in a particular way. The hand movement (mechanical action) has a good impact on cutaneous and subcutaneous structures and enhances circulation of blood and lymph making increased supply of oxygen and elimination of waste products (or mediatorsof pain). Certain massage methods increasethe threshold for pain and decrease muscular tone. Apart from all these massage therapy can relax the mind and decrease the anxiety level,which would positively influence the perception of pain.


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    • dhannyya profile image

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thank you leann2800 for your comment..massaging is very effective...the moment we get a pain the first thing we do is massagiagng with our hand....we will feel a sudden relief

    • profile image

      leann2800 5 years ago

      Massage has been very beneficial to me and my chronic pain, it has also increased my range of motion and kept me flexible. I really enjoyed your article.

    • dhannyya profile image

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thanks for the comment Rodric29

    • Rodric29 profile image

      Rodric Johnson 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I enjoyed this hub. I love getting massages. I have chronic pain and you just gave me the proof I need to include it in my daily treatments.

    • dhannyya profile image

      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thanks ALUR and Singhrakeshs for your comments. massage has multiple benefits that takes us to healing

    • singhrakeshs profile image

      singhrakeshs 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      Interesting hub with beautiful writing about therapy...Thanks for sharing your information

      Voted up ++ useful...

    • ALUR profile image

      ALUR 5 years ago from USA

      thanks for a good informative hub. I love to receive a massage, I only wish I could afford one more often! I think the power of the human touch in general is potent to healing.

      You're welcome to read my hubs as well:)