Massage therapy can be beneficial for a variety of conditions. For a list of conditions for which massage therapy, when provided by a Registered Massage Therapist, can prove beneficial, please visit the Benefits of Massage Therapy page.
|Massage Therapy for Chronic Pain|
|Massage Therapy for Seniors|
|Massage Therapy and Sports|
|Massage Therapy and Pregnancy|
|Massage Therapy for Stress and Anxiety|
|Massage Therapy in the Workplace|
|Massage Therapy and Palliative Care|
Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to care for people with life-threatening illnesses, no matter the prognosis, and focuses on improving the quality of life of both the patients and their families. Massage therapy for palliative care patients has been shown to decrease pain, reduce anxiety and relieve fatigue.
Oncological Palliative Care Patients
One literature review explored the effectiveness of massage therapy for reducing pain, anxiety and depression, specifically in patients receiving oncological palliative care. It showed that massage therapy has both an immediate and long-term effect in reducing pain in oncological palliative care patients. It was found that physiological relaxation was closely connected with the immediate reduction of anxiety, and that after a massage therapy intervention, patients’ perceptions of anxiety decreased significantly. Physical contact in general plays an important role in reducing anxiety, and massage therapy allows for this close physical contact. There was also evidence that there were improvements in depressive mood through massage therapy, but the type of massage and the setting may have an effect.
No negative effects to massage therapy for oncological palliative care patients were discovered, however there are some limitations to be considered. For example, some patients are unable to find a pleasant position, causing the duration of the massage to be shortened, and others may be in a fragile state of health, making a full body massage impossible. Massage therapists should be flexible when offering massage therapy to palliative care patients to provide care that is appropriate and comfortable.
Metastatic cancer is a cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. A randomized controlled trial studied the effect of massage therapy on the pain, anxiety, quality of life and sleep of patients with metastatic cancer. The interventions were provided in the patients’ homes and compared both to no-touch intervention and usual care. There were significant improvements in the quality of life of the patients who received massage therapy after a one-week follow up, as compared to the no touch or usual care control groups. There were also trends towards the improvement of pain and sleep patterns after massage therapy.
Nausea is another common symptom for palliative care patients. One study shows that massage therapy can be effective for nausea and pain in bone marrow transplant patients. Another study shows that foot massage can significantly reduce nausea in hospitalized cancer patients.
Fatigue is another common symptom for individuals requiring palliative care. One study on providing massage therapy for individuals with advanced cancer found that many in this group of patients have compromised energy, drowsiness, fatigue and weakness, and for that reason it was suggested to tailor the treatment to the patient’s current level of endurance, carefully assess the patient’s willingness to undergo treatment, and shorten sessions if needed. Another study suggests that massage therapy is beneficial to improve sleep quality and reduce fatigue in post-surgical patients.
Massage Therapy Can Help
Palliative Care is not designed to cure, but to ensure comfort and support to someone who is terminally ill. It is intended to provide pain and other symptom relief, and to improve quality of life, from the patient’s diagnosis and throughout the course of the patient’s illness. Massage therapy is just one of the options that can improve quality of life for those requiring palliative care.
To find a Registered Massage Therapist in your area, Click HERE.
Mazlum S, Chaharsoughi NT, Banihashem A, Vashani HB. The effect of massage therapy on chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in pediatric cancer. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2013 Jul-Aug; 18(4):280–284. [link]
Nerbass FB, Feltrim MI, Souza SA, Ykeda DS, Lorenzi-Filho G. Effects of massage therapy on sleep quality after coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010; 65(11):1105-1110. [link]
Smith MC. Yamashita TE. Bryant LL, Hemphill L, Kutner JS. Providing massage therapy for people with advanced cancer: What to expect. J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Apr; 15(4):367–371. [link]
Toth M, Marcantonio ER, Davis RB, Walton T, Kahn JR, Phillips RS. Massage therapy for patients with metastatic cancer: A pilot randomized controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Jul; 19(7):650–656. [link]
Many people seek out massage therapy for the sense of relaxation it brings them. They feel a sense of calm and peace of mind from both the tranquil atmosphere and the treatment itself. However, if someone is looking for “just a relaxation massage” it doesn’t mean their treatment is any less clinically indicated or beneficial to their overall health. Massage has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, which contribute to overall physical wellbeing.
Everyone experiences some stress in their lives, whether it’s from work or personal circumstances. One study explores the effects of massage therapy on the occupational stress of those working in intensive care. This study recommends that massage therapy be used for nurses in intensive care units to reduce their stress, promote mental health and prevent the decrease in the quality of their working lives.
One report reviewed the literature surrounding the effect of massage therapy on reducing physiological measures of stress, including hormonal as well as physical variables. The review indicated that massage therapy may have several physiological measures of stress reduction, specifically salivary cortisol and heart rate, when assessed immediately after massage therapy.
Anxiety and related disorders negatively impact the quality of life and the overall health of those they affect. Massage therapy is one option for reducing the physical symptoms that are associated with anxiety. One recent study looked at the effects of massage therapy on the vital signs and anxiety in healthy women. In this study, massage therapy was successful in significantly reducing pulse, respiratory rate, and systolic blood pressure.
Another study evaluated the effectiveness of a relaxation or wellness massage therapy program in reducing stress, anxiety and aggression on a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit. A 20 min massage therapy session was offered daily to patients during their period of hospitalization and several different tests and variables were used to measure patient outcomes at admission and discharge from the unit. This study found that there was a significant reduction in self-reported anxiety, resting heart rate, and cortisol levels immediately following the initial and final massage therapy treatments. Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures and may be a useful de-escalating tool for reducing stress and anxiety in acutely hospitalized psychiatric patients.
Massage Therapy and Mental Health
Occupational and other stresses can lead to a range of significant health issues, and massage therapy is one viable way of coping with those stressors. Anxiety disorders also negatively impact quality of life, and massage therapy is one of the complementary options that can help address the physical symptoms of those disorders. Massage therapy is a clinically valuable treatment option both to relieve the everyday stressors that can contribute to other illnesses, and to help cope with anxiety disorders.
To find a Registered Massage Therapist in your area, Click HERE.
Garner B, Phillips LJ, Schmidt HM, Markulev C, O’Connor J., Wood SJ, Berger GE, Burnett P, McGorry PD. Pilot study evaluating the effect of massage therapy on stress, anxiety, and aggression in a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2008 May; 42(5):414–422. [link]
Gholami-Motlagh F, Jouzi M, Soleymani B. Comparing the effects of two Swedish massage techniques on the vital signs and anxiety of healthy women. Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016 Jul-Aug; 21(4):402-409. [link]
Moraska A, Pollini RA, Boulanger K, Brooks MZ, Teitlebaum L. Physiological Adjustments to Stress Measures Following Massage Therapy: A Review of the Literature. Evid Based Complement Altern Med. 2010 Dec; 7(4):409–418. [link]
Sitting at a desk and looking at a computer all day can be a real pain in the neck – and a pain in many other parts of your body. Sitting, or even standing all day can be rough on the body, and office workers can frequently suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain, back pain and headaches. This can be worsened by poor ergonomics in your work station, and may be improved by adding some movement into your day, and can be alleviated even more by receiving regular massage therapy treatments. Many people have jobs that involve a lot of sitting in one position, but this does not need to mean that chronic pain is inevitable.
Stretch At Your Desk
You can actively help prevent desk-related pain by creatively adding some movement into your day. Here are just a few examples of stretches that can easily be done at work to prevent or reduce stiffness and pain.
Place one hand under your elbow, lift your elbow, and stretch it across your chest. Don’t rotate your body as you stretch. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, and you should feel tension in the back of your shoulder. Relax slowly, return to the starting position, and repeat the stretch with the other arm.
Place your hands behind your head and squeeze your shoulder blades together, bringing your elbows back as far as possible. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat.
With your face straight ahead, lower your chin into your chest, and hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds. You should feel tension in the back of your neck. Relax and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
Turn your head to one side while keeping your shoulders straight. While holding the stretch, you’ll feel the tension in the side of your neck and your shoulder. Relax and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.
Lower back stretch
Sit forward in your chair. Bend one of your knees towards your chest, and use your hands to grab the back of your thigh and gently pull it towards you. Be careful not to lean forward, and keep your back straight. Holding the stretch for 30 seconds, you should feel tension in the lower part of your back and the upper part of your buttock. Relax and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the stretch with the other leg.
You can do any of these stretches, or many others, throughout the day to help prevent your muscles from feeling sore and tight. Any questions, or looking for more ways to stretch at work? Ask your RMT!
Proper Office Ergonomics
Proper office ergonomics – which includes chair height, equipment spacing and desk posture, can save you from a career of neck and back pain. There are several simple steps you can take to make your workstation more comfortable. You should adjust your chair so your feet can rest flat on the floor or use a footrest so your knees are about level with your hips. Things you use often, like your phone or stapler, should be kept close by to minimize reaching. Your mouse should also be within easy reach, and on the same surface as your key board. When typing or using your mouse, keep your wrists straight, your upper arms close to your body and your hands slightly at or below the level of your elbows. Your monitor should be directly in front of you, about arm’s length away, and the top of the screen should be at eye level.
Massage Therapy Can Help
Back pain, neck pain, and pain in the upper extremities are all common complaints among office workers. These injuries can result in lost work time, lack of productivity, and even in limitations on other everyday activities. Musculoskeletal disorders cause the individual pain, and they can also be costly. Estimates from 2006 state that musculoskeletal disorders cost Canada $20 billion each year – a number that’s likely higher now. Massage therapy can help stop work from becoming a pain.
Find a Registered Massage Therapist in your area, Click HERE.
Mayo Clinic. (January 4, 2017). Slide show: Office stretches. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/stretching/sls-20076525.
Pregnancy is a very exciting time, but can also be demanding on a woman’s body. The changing body brings with it aches and pains, including back pain, leg and foot pain, and other muscle pains. Massage therapy can have many of the same goals during pregnancy as during any other time, whether that be relaxing tense muscles, improving mobility or easing sore spots; however it is tailored to the specific needs and experiences of pregnant women and their changing bodies. Research has shown that pregnancy massage can be an integral part of a woman’s prenatal care, and is a safe and effective way to assist in a woman’s positive experience of pregnancy.
Mood and Outcome
In one study, after receiving regular massage therapy, women reported decreased depression, anxiety, leg and back pain. Cortisol levels decreased and, in turn, excessive fetal activity decreased. In a subsequent study, in which pregnant women were massaged for 16 weeks, in addition to all of the beneficial effects previously stated, pregnancy outcomes were improved, and there was a lower rate of premature birth.
Studies have explored the use of massage therapy to help manage pain among women in active labour. At a hospital in British Columbia, Swedish massage was administered for up to five hours by a Registered Massage Therapist during labor. One finding of this pilot study was that women who received massage therapy, as opposed to standard care, delayed their use of epidural analgesia. Massage therapy can decrease pain in all three stages of labour (latent, active and transition) and is a safe treatment that will complement the care you are receiving from your doctor and other healthcare providers.
Low-back pain is a common complaint among pregnant women, which can negatively impact their quality of life. It is estimated that 50% of women will suffer from low-back pain during their pregnancy, and one third of those women will suffer from severe. Only 50% of women experiencing pregnancy related low back pain will seek advice from a healthcare professional. Massage therapy is one of the common treatments sought for the management of pregnancy related low-back pain. There is an emerging body of evidence that massage therapy may be an effective short-term option for non-specific low-back pain. According to researchers at Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle, massage therapy can also help relieve chronic low-back pain more effectively than the usual medical treatment.
Massage Therapy and Pregnancy
Massage therapy can improve overall prenatal health for pregnant women, and should be considered an important option to consider along with regular prenatal care. In addition to relieving the typical aches and pains associated with pregnancy, massage therapy has also been associated with better pregnancy outcomes and a reduced risk of premature birth. Massage therapy during pregnancy, as with any condition, should depend on the needs and experiences of the individuals, and should be discussed with the RMT before treatment.
To find a Registered Massage Therapist in your area, Click HERE.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5; 155(1):1–9. [link]
Field T. Pregnancy and labor massage. Expert Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar; 5(2):177–181. [link]
Field T, Diego M, Hernandez-Reif M, Deeds O, Fiqueiredo B. Pregnancy massage reduces prematurity, low birthweight and postpartum depression. Infant Behav Dev. 2009 Dec; 32(4):454–460. [link]
Field T, Diego M, Hernandez-Reif M, Schanberg S, Kuhn C. Massage therapy effects on depressed pregnant women. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 Jul; 25(2):115–122. [link]
Janssen P, Shroff F, Jaspar P. Massage therapy and labor outcomes: A randomized controlled trial. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2012; 5(4):15–20. [link]