Tuesday 6th August, 2019
  Categories: General, Practitioners

What are the benefits of regular massage

Take care of yourself
Massage can be used for a lot more than pain

Summary of the benefits

From the results of 28 clinical trials we find that regular massages have the following health related benefits.

  • Improving sleep
  • Reducing fatigue
  • Work related aches and pains
  • Reducing blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Reducing occupational stress
  • Reducing depression
  • Reducing nausea in cancer patients

In this article we will discuss the results of those trials, including what types of massages gave these results.

CONTENTS

Trial results: including summary table
Summary of what massages were effective
Your self massage alternatives
References

The results of the trials

The following table summarises the results of the trials. Following the table we will share with you the different types of massage that were successful.

The benefits of regular massage: summary of clinical trials

NOTE: You may need to scroll the table below left/right for more information

Trial

Type

Number/freq./length

Investigated

Results

1

Remedial back and shoulder massage

Each evening for 3 days

Sleep, fatigue, surgery recovery

Improved sleep, fatigue and surgery recovery

2

Slow back massage

10 minutes each evening for 3 days

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

3

Chair massage

30 minute, weekly for 10 weeks

Work related pain

Improved

4

Chair massage

10 minutes per day for 4 days

Work related stress

Reduces stress levels

5

Swedish massage

10 minutes, 3 times a week for 10 sessions

Blood pressure

Average blood pressure reduced from 128/76 to 116/18

6

Swedish massage

10-15 minutes, 3 times a week for 10 sessions

Blood pressure

Blood pressure reduced, still reduced 72 hours after the last massage

7

Swedish massage

10-15 minutes, 3 times a week for 10 weeks

Blood pressure

Blood pressure reduced, still reduces after 72 hours but returned to previous two weeks after

8

Chair massages

4 weekly 20 minutes

Blood pressure

Significantly reduced

9

Chair massages

15 minute weekly for 10 weeks

Stress and anxiety

Stress and anxiety reduced

10

Swedish

20-25 minutes twice weekly for 4 weeks

Occupational stress

Reduce occupational stress

11

Foot massage

10 minutes, 3 times a week for 4 weeks

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

12

Swedish

Eight 15 minute sessions

Occupational pain and stress

Reduced occupational pain and stress

13

Swedish

25 minutes, twice a week for 4 weeks

Occupational stress (intensive care nurses)

Reduced occupational stress, still apparent 2 weeks after the last massage

1414

Swedish

15 minutes, weekly for 5 weeks

Anxiety

Reduced anxiety levels

15

Chair massage

15 minute chair massage weekly for 6 weeks

Anxiety

Reduced anxiety levels

16

Chair massage

twice weekly for a month

Pain, disability, head and neck movement

Reduced pain and disability, increased head and neck movement

17

Back massage

15 minutes per day for a week

Anxiety, blood pressure, sleep

Improved anxiety, blood pressure and sleep

18

Whole body Swedish

One hour weekly for 4 weeks

Blood pressure and heart rate

Reduced blood pressure and heart rate

19

Back massage or foot massage

30 minutes, twice weekly for 3 weeks

Blood pressure, sleep

Both the back massages and feet massages reduced blood pressure and improved sleep

20

Chair massage

Eight 15 minute sessions

Work related pain

Reduced work related pain

21

Various

Various, up to 60 minutes

Study of 1290 cancer patients measuring a variety of symptoms

Improved: pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea and depression

22

Pressure points on legs

Daily for 4 weeks

Sleep

Improved sleeping

23

Swedish massage

30 minutes weekly for 3 weeks

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

24

Back massage

Daily for 3 days

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

25

Back massage

20 minutes daily for 5 days

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

26

Remedial back massage

20 minutes, 3 times a day for duration of hospital stay

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

27

Remedial massage

10 min

Sleep

Improved quality

28

Hand/forearm & foot/calf massage +/- aromatherapy

20 minute

Sleep

Improved sleep quality

Summary of what massages were effective

In all but one of the trials the type of massages used fell into two basic categories: remedial type massages and chair massages.

Massage therapist
Massage therapist performing remedial massage

Remedial type massages

These include "remedial massage", "Swedish massage", and "back massage". While there is some variations between these, and indeed variations between individual practitioners using the same type of massage, these all share a similar pattern. The therapist examines the muscles for tightness and lumps, then addresses these and stimulates blood flow using four basic techniques.

  • effleurage: stroking movements with moderate pressure
  • petrissage: kneading, squeezing and rolling
  • tapotement: tapping and percussion movements
  • applying pressure
Chair massage
Simple chair massages were one type of massage found to be effective

Chair massages

Chair massages are commonly provided by companies for their employees. They are commonly shorter duration, and for convenience employees remain clothed and sit on a specially designed chair. Because of this the therapist is commonly restricted to working on the neck, shoulders and upper back. Working through a thin layer of clothing rather than lubricated skin therapists tend to use more pressure techniques plus friction techniques where the therapist rubs across the muscle fibres.

Length and frequency of massages

Looking at our table of trial results we see that most massages ranged from 10-30 minutes. Frequencies ranged from three times a day through to weekly. If we look at the results of trial seven we see three massages a week lowered blood pressure. This pressure was still reduced after 72 hours, but not after two weeks. This tells us that the massages should be regular, and need to be continually applied.

Self massage

In all the trials the professional therapists used did a fantastic job. However, for massage frequencies of several times a week this would be prohibitively expensive for many. In a separate article we discuss self massage options that may be used to supplement this.

References

  1. Nerbass FB, Feltrim MIZ, de Souza SA, Ykeda DS, Lorenzi-Filho G. Effects of massage therapy on sleep quality after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Clinics. 2010;65(11):1105–10.
  2. shinde mahadeo, anjum shabana. Effectiveness of Slow Back Massage on Quality of Sleep among ICU Patents . Int J Sci Res. 2014;
  3. Engen DJ, Wahner-Roedler DL, Nadolny AM, Persinger CM, Oh JK, Spittell PC, et al. The effect of chair massage on muscular discomfort in cardiac sonographers: A pilot study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010;
  4. Brennan MK, DeBate RD. The effect of chair massage on stress perception of hospital bedside nurses. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2006;
  5. Moeini M, Givi M, Ghasempour Z, Sadeghi M. The effect of massage therapy on blood pressure of women with pre-hypertension. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2011;
  6. Givi M. Durability of effect of massage therapy on blood pressure. Int J Prev Med. 2013;
  7. Givi M, Sadeghi M, Garakyaraghi M, Eshghinezhad A, Moeini M, Ghasempour Z. Long-term effect of massage therapy on blood pressure in prehypertensive women. J Educ Health Promot. 2018;
  8. Day AL, Gillan L, Francis L, Kelloway EK, Natarajan M. Massage therapy in the workplace: Reducing employee strain and blood pressure. G Ital Med Lav Ergon. 2009;
  9. Engen DJ, Wahner-Roedler DL, Vincent A, Chon TY, Cha SS, Luedtke CA, et al. Feasibility and effect of chair massage offered to nurses during work hours on stress-related symptoms: A pilot study. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2012;
  10. Mahdizadeh M, Jaberi AA, Bonabi TN. Massage therapy in management of occupational stress in emergency medical services staffs: A randomized controlled trial. Int J Ther Massage Bodyw Res Educ Pract. 2019;
  11. Malekshahi F, Aryamanesh F, Fallahi S. The effects of massage therapy on sleep quality of patients with end-stage renal disease undergoing hemodialysis. Sleep Hypn. 2018;20(2):91–5.
  12. Katz J. A randomized, controlled study of the pain- And tension-reducing effects of 15 min workplace massage treatments versus seated rest for nurses in a large teaching hospital. Pain Res Manag. 1999;4(2):81–8.
  13. Nazari F, Mirzamohamadi M, Yousefi H. The effect of massage therapy on occupational stress of Intensive Care Unit nurses. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2015;
  14. Bost N, Wallis M. The effectiveness of a 15 minute weekly massage in reducing physical and psychological stress in nurses. Aust J Adv Nurs. 2006;
  15. Shulman KR, Jones GE. The effectiveness of massage therapy intervention on reducing anxiety in the workplace. J Appl Behav Sci. 1996;
  16. Šiško PK, Videmšek M, Karpljuk D. The effect of a corporate chair massage program on musculoskeletal discomfort and joint range of motion in office workers. J Altern Complement Med. 2011;
  17. Pinar R, Afsar F. Back massage to decrease state anxiety, cortisol level, blood prsessure, heart rate and increase sleep quality in family caregivers of patients with cancer: A randomised controlled trial. Asian Pacific J Cancer Prev. 2016;
  18. Supa’At I, Zakaria Z, Maskon O, Aminuddin A, Nordin NAMM. Effects of swedish massage therapy on blood pressure, heart rate, and inflammatory markers in hypertensive women. Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2013;
  19. Arslan G, Ceyhan Ö, Mollaoğlu M. The influence of foot and back massage on blood pressure and sleep quality in females with essential hypertension: a randomized controlled study. J Hum Hypertens. 2020;
  20. Cabak A, Mikicin M, Łyp M, Stanisławska I, Kaczor R, Tomaszewski W. Preventive chair massage with algometry to maintain psychosomatic balance in white-collar workers. In: Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 2017.
  21. Cassileth BR, Vickers AJ. Massage therapy for symptom control: Outcome study at a major cancer center. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2004;28(3):244–9.
  22. Dai XJ, Xing XY, Shi Y, Jiang WX, Zhou ME. Lower extremity point massage for improving quality of sleep in patients with end-stage renal disease: a clinical study of 42 cases . Vol. 48, Journal of traditional chinese medicine / chung i tsa chih ying wen pan. 2007. p. 44‐46.
  23. Sturgeon M, Wetta-Hall R, Hart T, Good M, Dakhil S. Effects of therapeutic massage on the quality of life among patients with breast cancer during treatment. J Altern Complement Med. 2009;15(4):373–80.
  24. Hsu W-L. Back massage intervention for improving health and sleep quality among intensive care unit patients. Nurs Crit Care. 2019;24(5):313–9.
  25. Ko YL. Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of using back massage to improve sleep quality among Taiwanese insomnia postp…. Midwifery. 2014;30(1):60–4.
  26. Sable A, Sivabalan T, Shetti AN. Effectiveness of back massage on sleep pattern among patients with congestive cardiac failure. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2017;22(5):359–62.
  27. H Khoshno, F Mohammadi, A Dalvandi MA. The Effect of Effleurage Massage Duration on Sleep Quality Improvement. Iran J Rehabil Res. 2106;2(4):10–8.
  28. Cheraghbeigi N, Modarresi M, Rezaei M, Khatony A. Comparing the effects of massage and aromatherapy massage with lavender oil on sleep quality of cardiac patients: A randomized controlled trial. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2019;35(March):253–8.

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Dr Graeme

About Dr Graeme

Several years ago Dr Graeme, a Chiropractor practicing in Victoria, Australia was looking for a serious hand held massager his patients could use at home to get the extra quality massage they needed. The ones he found in the shops and on-line for home use looked nice but were not serious, and... read more



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