Massage Therapy and how it reduces anxiety!

How Massage Therapy can help Anxiety!

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.

a very anxious and stressed man

People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.

Now, with that being said, how can you get manage or get rid of anxiety with Massage Therapy?  Great question!  Massage has been clinically shown to reduce anxiety and help to alleviate future anxiety with continued sessions.  Don’t take my word for it though, see what the experts have to say about it!

Massages reduce stress and anxiety

Have high blood pressure? Stressed after surgery? New research suggests your doctor could prescribe gentle massage to augment more traditional hospital treatments.

Gentle massage that involves a slow, light, stroking of the skin doesn’t just feel good — it can lower your blood pressure.

Massage feels good, without a doubt. But does it have therapeutic value above and beyond just making us feel nice?

The answer, according to research conducted at Umeå University in Sweden, is yes. Lenita Lindgren measured blood pressure, glucose and insulin levels before, during and after a specific type of massage, called touch or tactile massage, as part of her PhD research. She also charted the feelings of people who had just been given the massage.

Lindgren concluded that tactile massage can reduce anxiety among patients after they’ve undergone major surgery and also reduce stress in healthy persons. Recipients felt better and more relaxed.

In addition to the improvements reported by study participants, monitoring showed a decrease in blood pressure and participants found it easier to  breathe.

Skin contact important

The type of massage that Lindgren tested, tactile massage, does not involve strong pressure or tugging on muscles, but is simply a slow, light, stroking of the skin.

In fact, skin contact appears to be a key aspect of the treatment. The massage was found to be less effective when the masseur wore gloves.

Earlier studies have shown the method has positive effects but researchers haven’t known why.

One of Lindgren’s tests involved scanning study participants’ brains with a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. The massage treatment activated a region called the pregenual anterior cingulate cortex.

This part of the brain is linked to sensations of happiness and enjoyment, according to Umeå University in a press release.

Lenita Lindgren. (Photo: UMEÅ)

Lindgren concluded in her dissertation that touch massage is a beneficial addition to regular treatment for hospital patients.

Touching is now understood to be important in other medical situations, too. Newborns in maternity wards are now placed in their mothers’ arms as soon as possible after birth.

Their own control group

Scientific studies of massages are challenging. For one thing, the massages need to be as uniform as possible.

For Lindgen’s study, masseurs were taught how to perform the massage so it could be replicated in study participant after study participant. The masseurs were trained to exert 2.5 newtons of force with their hands, and move at a speed of 1.5 centimetres per second.

Another issue relates to control groups. When a medicine is being tested, a control group can be given a mock pill or dosage. Thus one group gets real medicine and the other gets a placebo and the effects can be compared.

It’s not so easy with a massage. A person knows whether he or she has been massaged. A different type of massage could have been given to some study participants, but there’s no telling whether it too would have an effect. Maybe the alternative massage is even more effective.

When a placebo pill is given, scientists know any effect is generated by the patient’s expectations rather than an objective effect of active medicinal ingredients.

Lindgren neatly solved this problem by using her study participants as their own control group. She thus compared each study participant’s results from having a massage with results from when a study participants was merely resting, without any tactile massage.

The following article also show how massage affects people through various stages of life and medical issues.

Massage Away Depression and Anxiety

A friendly touch can do wonders for boosting your mental health

By Sara Altshul

What it is: Massage therapists use arm, hand, fingertip, and elbow pressure to treat physical and emotional problems. The word massage comes from the Arabic word mass’h, which means “press gently.”

What traditional medicine says: Therapeutic massage was first described in China about 2,500 years ago. Around 400 bc, the Greek healer Hippocrates used massage to treat sprains. Most of the world’s medical systems, including Chinese medicine and India’s Ayurveda, developed their own versions.

What we know: Researchers at the University of Miami followed 37 breast cancer patients who received massage therapy or practiced progressive muscle relaxation for five weeks. Women in the massage group reported feeling less depressed and angry, and they had more energy. In a University of South Florida study of high blood pressure patients, those who got 10-minute massages three times a week for three weeks lowered their higher number by 11 points.

What new research shows: A review of more than a dozen massage studies conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine concludes that massage therapy relieves depression and anxiety by affecting the body’s biochemistry. In a series of studies including about 500 men, women, and children with depression or stress problems, researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in participants before and immediately after massage and found that the therapy lowered levels by up to 53%. (Cortisol can drive up blood pressure and blood sugar levels and suppress the immune system.) Massage also increased serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that help reduce depression.


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