Heart Benefits of Massage Therapy

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.

- See more at: http://www.massagetherapycanada.com/research/studies-highlight-heart-benefits-of-massage-therapy-2464#sthash.UeEwesGY.dpuf

Regular Exercise and Massage Manipulations Offer Positive Health Effects

A group of sedentary women experienced positive health effects after participating in regular exercise and massage manipulations. The study, “The effect of regular exercise and massage on oxidant and antioxidant parameters” included 25 sedentary women, ages 32 to 50 years old.

Oxidative stress involves oxidant-antioxidant imbalance, and is known to cause cardiovascular disease, as well as cell and DNA damage. Studies have been conducted involving the effect of acute exercise on oxidative stress, but there haven’t been any studies regarding the effect of a combination of regular exercise and massage on oxidant and antioxidant activity.

Since massage is a popular treatment method used to prevent fatigue from intense muscular activity and muscle damage, researchers chose to incorporate both exercise and massage. The study’s authors stated, “this experimental study aimed to determine the effects of the combined application of regular exercises and massage on the values of malondialdehyde (MDA), nitric oxide (NOx), glutathione (GSH), adenosine deaminase (ADA) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).”

Participants were randomly divided into three groups: the control group, exercise group and massage and exercise group. 

The control group (CG) avoided any form of exercise or supplement that may affect oxidant- antioxidant status. Exercise group (EG) participants exercised on a treadmill for 45 minutes at 50 percent overloading rate, and were monitored and motivated by two trainers. The massage and exercise group (MEG) participants participated in the same exercises as the EG and received massage therapy, consisting of effleurage and petrissage massage manipulation, for 20 minutes after exercise. During the 12-week study, all exercise and massage sessions occurred from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Participants’ blood samples were taken before and one day after the 12-week exercise and massage protocol. Post-test analysis concluded a decrease of MDA in both the EG and MEG participants. Compared to the control group, EG and MEG participants reflected a significant increase in GSH and SOD values. Data suggests a combination of regular exercise and massage manipulations may positively affect oxidative stress.

According to the study’s authors, “The findings show that regular physical activities and massage manipulations significantly decrease MDA, increase SOD and GSH activities, and result in no change in NOx and ADA activities; [which] supports the assumption that regular physical activity has positive health effects.” The authors also pointed out that further studies should be conducted to support these findings, and should be conducted especially regarding massage’s effect on oxidant and antioxidant balance.

- See more at: http://www.massagemag.com/regular-exercise-and-massage-manipulations-offer-positive-health-effects-27193/#sthash.5l7T0TNJ.dpuf
Written by Aysun Bay Karabulut, M. Emin Kafkas, Armagan Sahin Kafkas, Yunus Önal and Tugba Rabia Kiran


Ease Sore Muscles and Improve Blood Flow with Massage

Massage therapy can help ease sore muscles and improve blood flow for people who are active as well as for those who do not exercise, a small study finds.

Those effects can last for more than 72 hours, researchers found. People with poor circulation or limited ability to move are among those who could benefit most from massage therapy, they noted.

“Our study validates the value of massage in exercise and injury, which has been previously recognized but based on minimal data,” Nina Cherie Franklin, study first author and a postdoctoral fellow in physical therapy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in a university news release. “It also suggests the value of massage outside of the context of exercise.”

In the study, the researchers asked 36 healthy but inactive young adults to use a leg press machine until their legs became sore. Half of the participants were given a Swedish leg massage after they exercised. All of the participants rated their muscle soreness on a scale from one to 10. A third comparison group did not exercise, but got a massage.

Although both exercise groups were sore right after their workout, the people who got the massage said they had no soreness 90 minutes later. In contrast, those in the group that didn’t receive a massage said they were sore 24 hours after they exercised.

Because muscle injury from exercise has been shown to reduce blood flow, researchers say, they also measured the participants’ “brachial artery flow mediated dilation” in their arms. This standard measure of general vascular health was taken 90 minutes as well as one, two and three days after exercise.

The people who got a massage after they exercised had improved blood flow at every testing interval and the benefits of the massage didn’t dissipate until after 72 hours had passed, researchers found. People who did not receive a massage after exercise had reduced blood flow after 90 minutes and returned to normal levels at 72 hours.

“We believe that massage is really changing physiology in a positive way,” Franklin said. “This is not just blood flow speeds — this is actually a vascular response.”

And massage doesn’t just help people who exercise, the researchers also found.

“The big surprise was the massage-only control group, who showed virtually identical levels of improvement in circulation as the exercise and massage group,” study principal investigator Shane Phillips, an associate professor of physical therapy at UIC, said in the news release. “The circulatory response was sustained for a number of days, which suggests that massage may be protective.”

The study found that participants’ blood flow was changed far away from the sore muscles. Researchers concluded that massage benefits are systemic and not confined to one specific area of the body.

While the study found an association between massage and improved circulation, it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.

The study was recently published online ahead of publication in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.