Many already view massage as an important approach to relieving muscle pain or as a means to relax. However, working with a qualified massage therapist can also play a significant role in improving cardiovascular health as evidenced by a growing body of research, according to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA).
Massage therapists share the goal of all health-care team members – providing customizable, personalized care to help clients or patients reach and maintain their best health. Incorporating regular visits to a massage therapist into an individualized care plan can relieve stress (a major contributor to heart problems), lower blood pressure and lead to a decrease in recovery time following a cardiovascular procedure. [Watch: Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic discusses the cardiovascular benefits of massage]
A multitude of recent research shows a direct correlation between massage therapy and improved cardiovascular health. In a 2013 study in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers concluded massage therapy could serve as an effective intervention in controlling blood pressure in pre-hypertensive women. The study showed that the immediate results of lowered blood pressure lasted up to 72 hours after massage.
A separate study in the same publication had similar findings; those that received regular Swedish Massage Therapy over a period of four weeks had significantly lower blood pressure than those who did not have a massage.
The American Heart Association (AHA) warns against the risks of high blood pressure, which can lead to cardiovascular issues including stroke, heart disease and kidney failure. With proactive management of high blood pressure, individuals can lower their chance of developing these conditions.
"Most clients think of massage therapy as a useful approach for managing back pain or promoting relaxation, but there are other benefits to massage that improve overall health, particularly when it comes to the heart," said Nancy M. Porambo, president of the AMTA. "Many see tremendous outcomes from introducing massage into their cardiovascular rehabilitation routine, as this Research Round-up shows."
A qualified massage therapist can play an important role in the health-care team for individuals dealing with cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure or increased stress levels, the association said. Individuals should consult with a qualified massage therapist to determine the best massage therapy approach for their specific needs.
By meeting or exceeding state training requirements, ascribing to a code of ethics and participating in continuing education, qualified massage therapists are appropriate additions to any wellness regimen; able to create specialized approaches based on individual conditions, fitness and goals, the AMTA said.
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