Evidence & Research

We're working on pulling this section together to clearly give you the great evidence for how effective masage can be. Until we finish though, here is a crazy-load of studies if you'd care to dig in.

Plenty of articles from Massage Today:

  1. The Mayhem Created by Sitting
  2. Massage Benefits Immune and Neuroendocrine Function
  3. Massage Brings Relief to People Suffering from Headaches
  4. Massage Helps Hospital Patients Manage Pain
  5. Pediatric Massage for Healthy Childhood Development
  6. Massage Improves Range of Motion for Children with Burn Injuries
  7. Testing the Treatment Dose of Massage for Chronic Neck Pain
  8. Dosage Affects Immune and Endocrine Response to Massage
  9. Pediatric Massage May Alleviate Childhood Depression
  10. Touch Matters: Massage for Children With Cancer
  11. Research Shows Acupressure Reduces Chronic Neck Pain
  12. Massage Therapy Reduces Hand Pain
  13. Recent Research Provides Evidence of How Massage Therapy Heals
  14. Benefits of Using Massage Therapy to Treat TMJ
  15. Healing Touch: Using Massage to Break the Cycle of Abuse
  16. Massage Therapy Reduces Low Back Pain
  17. Massage Therapy Reduces Pain for Patients in a Postoperative Thoracic Surgery Care Setting
  18. A Golfer's Worst Nightmare Rehabilitated Through Massage
  19. A Hands on Approach for Pediatric ADHD
  20. Patients with Fibromyalgia Find Comfort in Massage Myofascial Release Therapy
  21. Massage and Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
  22. Massage for Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
  23. Massage Therapists Team With Pediatric Cardiology Professionals to Examine the Effects of Massage on Exercise Performance and Heart/Lung Function in a Sample of Children With and Without Heart Disease
  24. Pediatric Massage: A Nurturing Intervention for Autism
  25. Research Provides Evidence of Physiological Mechanism For Stress Reduction Resulting From Touch Massage
  26. Massage Combats PTSD
  27. Soft Tissue Manipulation and Pelvic Pain
  28. A Session of Massage Keeps the Doctor Away
  29. Olympic Bobsledder's Massage
  30. Massage Reduces Stress in Breast Cancer Patients

The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami has done extensive research on massage therapy. Here are some of the findings, all summarized here:

    1. Reductions in anxiety and aggression in troubled teens
    2. Decreased pain and stress in cardiac patients
    3. Reduced stress in the workplace during downsizing
    4. Reduced stress, anxiety, and pain in children with rheumatoid arthritis
    5. Improved pulmonary function in children with asthma
    6. Benefitted behavior and mood of children with ADHD
    7. Improved attentiveness and responsiveness in children with autism more than Sensory Integration (SI) therapy
    8. Reduced back pain faster than conventional treatment with oral analgesics
    9. Massage produced a reduction in pain in 63% of herniated disc patients in one study
    10. Massage therapy was 2x as effective as manipulation for sub-acute low back pain and over 4x as effective as remedial exercise. The treatment was 6 sessions in one month.
    11. Massage therapy was more effective than acupuncture (functional disability) or self-care education (symptoms and disability) in a study on chronic low back pain
    12. Acupressure massage was found more effective than physical therapy for low back pain after 4 weeks of treatment. Massage was still more effective at a 6-month follow up evaluation
    13. Muscle blood volume and skin blood flow were measured to be higher following massage during exercise than rest between sets
    14. Multiple studies demonstrate a reduction in blood pressure, anxiety, and stress
    15. Massage therapy increased lymphocyte and natural killer immune cell function in women with breast cancer while also reducing stress hormones, anxiety, and depression
    16. Lower distress and pain in burn patients receiving treatment following massage
    17. Massage reduced pain and nausea associated with chemotherapy treatment. Another study showed decreased pain and need for analgesic medication in massage recipients with cancer
    18. Massage reduced anxiety, depression, and emotional fatigue in cancer caregivers
    19. Massage helped to maintain the ability to sleep in hospitalized cancer patients (in the control group the ability to sleep fell greatly)
    20. Massage improved the symptoms and function in carpal tunnel syndrome patients
    21. Massage improved cognitive performance in pre-schoolers
    22. Massage therapy improved dermatitis symptoms in children
    23. Massage reduced blood glucose levels to normal in 20 children with diabetes over a one-month course of treatment
    24. Massage twice weekly had a stronger stress-reduction effect on hormones than once weekly
    25. Massage significantly reduced muscle soreness following exercise and accelerated the return of maximal force compared to rest
    26. Massage increased muscle resistance to fatigue
    27. Massage was superior to TENS and reduced pain in fibromyalgia sufferers
    28. Massage reduced inflammation and cellular stress following exercise
    29. Workers scored better on math computation tests following chair massage
    30. When comparing massage to standard medical care for shoulder injury, both reduced pain equally, but upon follow-up, only the massage group had a persistence of relief
    31. 90% of scars treated with massage experienced improved appearance
    32. Massage lessened the effects of sexual abuse and prevented increasingly negative attitudes towards touch

The International Journal of Massage Therapy & Bodywork is a journal devoted to the scientific study of massage and has published the results of numerous studies:

    1. Post-Surgery: Post ACL Reconstructive Surgery, common problems "are hamstring flexion contracture and quadriceps weakness" leading to pain and dysfunction. Techniques of "lymphatic drainage, myofascial release, neuromuscular techniques including trigger point release, muscle energy techniques and cross-fiber friction" significantly reduced pain and inflammation.
    2. Cancer: Massage therapy improved stress, emotional measures, and muscle pain in children with cancer.
    3. Acute Pain: Massage therapy was shown to greatly reduce pain and improve ability to sleep in a hospital setting.
    4. Cardiovascular Performance: Massage prior to exercise improved heart rates, oxygen capacity, and ventilation in children with and without heart disease.
    5. TMJ Disorder: A series of massage sessions reduced pain by more than half, reduced stress, increased jaw range of motion by 20%, and increased neck mobility.
    6. Migraine Headaches: A combination of neck massage and spinal manipulation reduced migraine pain by almost 70%
    7. Morton's Neuroma: A 6-session series virtually eliminated symptoms when conventional treatment failed to provide relief.
    8. Balance and Falls: Even a single massage session improved balance and coordination in elderly recipients, suggesting massage can help to prevent falls and injuries in the elderly. Further study indicated that a series of 6 sessions generated greater and longer-lasting results.
    9. Degenerative Disc Disease: Several treatment sessions reduced pain symptoms, improved range of motion in the neck, and improved activities of daily living.
    10. Post-Surgery: Massage over 8 weeks improved both pain and function following a spinal fusion surgery
    11. Osteoarthritis: Massage reduced pain and stiffness in osteoarthritic knees.
    12. Sleep: A series of 5 massages improved sleep patterns in a narcoleptic patient by 1100% and the ability to get to sleep by 148%.