Will a single massage help me feel better?
Yes and no. For a number of physical and stress related problems, massage can have an immediate impact. Every day we have clients who come in stressed out, with a sore neck, tight back, etc. and leave feeling a lot better than when they came in. But if you have you ever had the experience of getting a massage and not noticing an immediate difference in your body after, you are not alone.
The Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami has conducted over 90 studies on the positive effects of massage therapy on many functions and medical conditions in varied age groups.
Anorexia: Massage therapy reduced anxiety, depressed mood and salivary cortisol (stress hormone) levels and resulted in decreased body dissatisfaction associated with anorexia.
Back Pain: 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.
Breast Cancer: Massage therapy reduced anxiety and depression and improved immune function including increased natural killer cell number.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Immediately following massage therapy depressed mood, anxiety and stress hormone (cortisol) levels were reduced. Following 10 days of massage therapy, fatigue related symptoms, particularly anxiety and somatic symptoms were reduced, as were depression, difficulty sleeping and pain. Stress hormone (cortisol) also decreased and dopamine increased.
Dancers: Massage therapy improved range of motion, mood, and performance (including balance and posture) and decreased stress hormone (cortisol) after one month of twice weekly massage therapy.
Diabetes: Following one month of parents massaging their children with diabetes, the children's glucose levels decreased to the normal range and their increased dietary compliance increased. Also the parents' and children's anxiety and depression levels decreased.
Labor Pain: Massage therapy during labor decreased anxiety and pain. In addition, the massaged mothers had shorter labor, shorter hospital stay and less depressed mood.
Migraine Headaches: Massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms and increased serotonin levels.
Smoking: Cravings, anxious behaviors and the number of cigarettes smoked were reduced by self-massage (rubbing ear lobes or hands whenever subjects experienced a craving).
Spinal Cord Injuries: Massage therapy improved functional abilities, range of motion and muscle strength in spinal cord injury patients.