Advocates for massage therapy often have to endure a certain level of skepticism from those who claim that the treatments are only useful for helping patients to relax. Despite the mountains of accumulated anecdotal and research evidence suggesting critical health benefits related to regular massage, many critics have stubbornly refused to give the discipline its proper recognition. Those who still doubt the evidence, however, are at odds with the results of a study conducted at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2010.
In that study, the researchers examined a total of 53 healthy patients, broken into two control groups. One group of 29 adults was given one session of Swedish massage, while the remaining 24 patients received a lighter massage. These sessions, lasting 45 minutes each, were designed to study the physiological changes that just one massage could generate in the human body. Each patient had blood samples drawn prior to massage, and then at various times over the course of the hour immediately following the therapy.
The whole purpose of the study was to test the many claims regarding massage’s health benefits. As noted in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
Massage therapy is a multi–billion dollar industry in the United States with 8.7% of adults receiving at least one massage within the last year; yet, little is known about the physiologic effects of a single session of massage in healthy individuals. The purpose of this study was to determine effects of a single session of Swedish massage on neuroendocrine and immune function.
Anyone who doubts the health benefits of massage would do well to consider the study’s findings. After testing the blood of the participants, researchers discovered a number of markers indicating dramatic physiological benefits. These included a decreased amount of cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin – one of the hormones that can stimulate aggression. In addition, they noticed elevated lymphocyte levels. Lymphocytes are the cells that the body calls upon to help with the immune response.
A subsequent 2012 study by the same researchers discovered that repeated Swedish massage therapy can produce ongoing health benefits – though the researchers also noted that more studies needed to be conducted to determine just how different frequencies might affect the body.
So what does that all mean for you? Well, you probably already suspected that your massages were producing noticeable changes in how you feel from day to day. Even so, it is often tempting to dismiss even your own experience when you hear others express skepticism about the science undergirding any presumed benefits. These studies serve as a reminder that even the science agrees with the anecdotal evidence!
At Tiffany Beauty Spa, our massage services – which include Swedish massage therapy – do more than just provide you with the relaxation, reinvigoration, and physical and mental stress release you need. The science confirms what many of us have realized for many years: that even a single session of massage can have far-reaching health benefits. Contact us to learn more about how you can benefit from your next massage in Fort Lauderdale, and get on the path to better health today!
 Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2010, 16(10): 1079-1088. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0634. Mark Hyman Rapaport,.