Therapeutic massage is expensive but popular and pleasant, with obvious subjective value, and proven benefit for anxiety and depression … but no other clear biological or medical effects. Most notably, the evidence that massage can help back and neck pain is sketchy, and there is no reason to believe that massage can help much with any other common musculoskeletal pain problem.
Training and certification standards for massage therapists are all over the map, and most practitioners have barely scratched the surface of musculoskeletal medicine.
And yet some medical benefits are plausible despite the lack of evidence. What do massage therapists say that they can do for people and their pain, and is there any scientific evidence to support those claims?
Massage is a popular treatment for low back painneck painand tension headaches — can it actually treat them, or does it just pleasantly distract patients and maybe take the edge off? Although there is a lot of negativity — also known as realism — in this article, I also still recommend massage.
It has some plausible medical benefits, even if they are inconsistent and unproven. I saw a few chiropractors and acupuncturists. But despite some initial short relief, their work seemed to lose effectiveness after a Most worthy massage ever visits. I went to a massage therapist, whose treatment actually was Most worthy massage ever opposite of my experiences with neurologists: My education in massage therapy here in British Columbia, Canada, was three years long — the longest massage therapy training program in the world.
There are also a few other places with two-year programs. A massage therapist with this level of education is certainly the kind that patients should seek out if they want massage as a treatment. Unfortunately, such massage therapists are quite rare.
Most are poorly trained and uncertified. Most work in spas or resorts and on cruise ships, doing treatments that are infamously fluffy and skin deep, with little therapeutic value other than the comfort of a quiet hour of touching even though many patients find skin-deep massage to be more annoying than anything else.
Most of these therapists are earnest and view themselves as medical semi-professionals, despite their comparative lack of training. Interestingly, the most pleasant massages I have ever had were done by therapists of this type! Compassionate and emotionally mature people are drawn to the work and usually think of it as a bit of a calling — perhaps this affects the sensory quality of the experience more than technical training.
If medical doctors saw even a tenth of the discussions on some of the FB massage groups, they would never take us seriously enough to refer a patient to any of us. Hocus pocus in holistic healthcare. Massage can be studied: Do people who are sick or broken get better when massaged? But logistics, economics, and devilish details get in the way. Most worthy massage ever is a psychologist and a rare example of a real scientist — someone trained and expert in research methodology — who has chosen to focus on massage therapy:.
I have been talking about this error for years, and have even published a paper on it. I critiqued a single example of it, and then discussed how the problem was rampant in massage therapy research.
Knowing the difference between a within-group result and a between-groups result is basic stuff. There is so much uncertainty that it is fair and reasonable to ask if we can really say much of anything about massage based on such incomplete and imperfect evidence.
We can, in fact, but it all must be done with our eyes wide open and a lot of qualifiers and hedging of bets. Research in the massage therapy field is still in infancy partly due to a lack of research infrastructure and a research tradition. The result is that most registered massage Most worthy massage ever are not accustomed to reading, analyzing, conducting, writing case studies or applying research in their own practice.
Massage for low back pain is the most studied massage question, but not enough: I discuss both of these in detail in their own sections below.
Most worthy massage ever instance, there are a few scraps of evidence — not nearly enough, but better than nothing — that rubbing and stretching soft tissue can reduce joint pain and stiffness. For instance, basic research has shown that touch is neurologically complex and probably has many physiological effects.
Skin is fantastically rich in nerve endings — up to about 10, per square centimetre 10 — and inSwedish researchers identified specialized nerve fibers that respond only to light stroking of a certain speed.
For instance, Most worthy massage ever know that chronic pain in particular tends to get increasingly disconnected from reality central sensitizationand safe, pleasant, interesting sensations may help us get back on track.
Sadly, there is an absence of useful evidence on the topic. Another interesting indirect example: And indeed a study of simple, static stretching showed a clear, good effect on heart rate regulation 14 — just from pulling on muscles, which may not be very different from pushing on them. While many benefits of massage are still disconcertingly uncertain and hotly debated by somethere are two truly proven ones. Massage researcher and psychologist Dr.
Perhaps one of the reasons massage reduces depression and anxiety: While not proven as well as you might think, it is a pretty safe bet, 16 and the idea is further supported by evidence that massage therapy may reduces blood pressure 17 18 and helps people to sleep, even when they are under the unusual stresses of hospital care.
Relaxation is an important component of wellness and pain management, and I do not underestimate its value, but it is hardly curative. And, as many critics have pointed Most worthy massage ever, massage is a super expensive way to relax. On average, professional massage therapists charge about a buck a minute — vastly more than millions of people can afford on a regular basis.
This economic perspective is often completely ignored in discussions of whether or not massage works. It probably does … but does it work well enough for the price? A nap is also quite relaxing, Most worthy massage ever a lot cheaper. If massage is to be considered a more cost-effective treatment for any medical problem than napping, we really must establish that it does more — quite a lot more — than just mellow people out.
Massage is a super expensive way to relax. On average, professional massage therapists charge about a buck a minute. Many studies done by the Touch Research Institute 20 — although almost certainly of generally low quality and strongly biased in favour of massage 21 — show many other broadly defined modest benefits to massage therapy in many circumstances — everything from rheumatoid bad arthritis 22 to cancer 23 to autism. The majority of these manual therapies are nearly untouched by science.
Many are dubious and obscure, while others are quite familiar and mainstream. Some of them may well be effective for certain things, but the overall usefulness of this mish-mash of techniques ishard to know. Early mobilization and range of motion exercisesfor instance, will be taught by competent massage therapists to clients with cervical injuries, because they help people get better faster.
Lymphatic drainage is an Most worthy massage ever example of a specific massage technique, allegedly good for one thing and not much else: Oh, and bad news: There are several examples of plausible, evidence-based advice and treatments that better-trained massage therapists will know about.
But there are also many manual therapy techniques that are surprisingly un -proven, including some extremely popular ones. Traction is a great example — pulling on the spine. Like many popular therapies, the evidence is a mess. I discuss traction in Most worthy massage ever detail in both my neck pain Most worthy massage ever back pain tutorials.
Friction massageanother specific type of massage, mainly as a treatment for tendinitis, 32 was pioneered by physiotherapists and adopted unquestioningly by massage therapists. Yet the profession clings to friction massage, mostly due to the assumption that it must be good if better-trained physical therapists do it — which is not a safe assumption. As dubious as these methods are, massage therapists routinely use techniques that are even more questionable.
It has even been criticized by many alternative health professionals.
There are many other examples of weird and silly treatments. See the further reading list at the bottom of this article.
Fenton: I’m easygoing and sociable. Dear men, I like jogging, fitness, and swimming. And you will get a lot more then expected but you will only find this out when you meet me. I am a cheerful person
I am a massage therapist. You have ruined my brain in a wonderful way. I have had to question and review the basis of my existence as a therapist and a person. I went through a similar mind-blown phase in my massage therapy career. Low back pain is a huge health problem, and massage therapists claim to get good results when treating low-back pain. Indeed, low back treatments are the bread and butter of the profession.
The amount of money that patients around the world spend on massage for back pain must be simply huge, at least Most worthy massage ever the tens of millions annually, Most worthy massage ever probably much more. So it had better work! But know one actually knows if it does, because the evidence all boils down to this:.
For many years Most worthy massage ever best review of the science that was available, by Furlan et al. The change from optimism to pessimism is fascinating, and caused some angst in the small community of massage therapists who pay attention to research. It was not a tidy apples-to-apples review, not by a long shot.
Most of the studies had almost little in common except that they were all experimenting with some kind Most worthy massage ever massage-like therapy for some kind of back pain. It is not remotely conclusive. What do the best studies say?
This treatment regimen was compared to massage alone, remedial exercise and posture education alone, or some useless laser therapy. But it has a critical flaw: And low back pain is notoriously sensitive to expectations! So this is a recipe for statistical disaster for the study: And that would actually covert it into a negative study, finding confirmation of no effect of massage for back pain.
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And that was the sad conclusion reached by Dr. And so the conclusion is still just null: Once again, this is all considered in much greater detail in my low back pain e-book. I was the only alternative health care professional at the conference that I know of. Despite the lack Most worthy massage ever direct evidence, massage has often gotten a stamp of approval from medical experts. For instance, back pain expert Dr.
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Interestingly, the most pleasant massages I have ever had were . There was virtually no research on this topic worth analyzing to begin with. Check out more awesome videos at BuzzFeedBlue!