Author: Albert Moraska.
A recent study focused on the belief in the efficacy of massage for muscle recovery after running a race. After gathering and analyzing data from runners who had just completed a race, researchers found massage is well-accepted as an aid in muscle recovery, especially among females and people who have received massage in the past.
The study, “Massage Efficacy Beliefs for Muscle Recovery from a Running Race,” involved 745 people who completed the same 10-kilometer race. Study data was collected from subjects within one hour postrace. The mean subject age was about 37 years.
Participants were approached right after the race and asked whether they were interested in completing a short questionnaire. This survey asked each subject to record his or her gender, age, race finish time, time since he or she finished the race, number of professional massages received and number of hours slept the previous evening.
Participants were also asked to rate their perceived exertion, muscle soreness and fatigue on scales from zero to 10. For one of the study’s main outcome measures, subjects were asked, “Do you think massage would be beneficial for your muscle recovery from today’s race?” They could elect to answer yes, no or unsure. The “no” and “unsure” answers were grouped together for analysis.
The data showed female racers reported a younger age, longer race finish time and lower perceived exertion, muscle soreness and muscle fatigue than male racers. Participants who reported having had massage in the past were among the older racers. Subjects who believed massage would aid in muscle recovery were those who were older and reported greater perceived exertion, muscle fatigue and muscle soreness.
The numbers also showed 80 percent of the 745 runners surveyed believed massage would benefit muscle recovery following the race, even though only about 44 percent of the runners had received massage in the past.
~~continued at link above
Some leaders in the massage field are taking steps to try and ensure that massage becomes a greater part of the U.S. health care system, as the implementation date of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) comes closer. A section of the ACA, which goes into effect in 2014, prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against health care providers—including those licensed as complementary health care providers—relative to their coverage and participation in health plans.A group of Washington state massage therapists has written a document titled “Evidence-Informed Massage Therapy is an Integral Component in the Affordable Care Act’s Essential Health Benefits.”
The document summarizes “the high-quality evidence for [massage therapy’s] effectiveness in treating medical conditions and populations” pertaining to the three (out of 10) Essential Health Benefits described in the ACA.
The authors are Marissa Brooks, L.M.P., Michael Hamm, L.M.P., Benjamin Erkan, Diana L. Thompson, L.M.P., and Kenneth Pfaff, H.F.W.L., H.P.C.U.H.G.S.
“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) supports the integration of MT into state-regulated insurance plans, both in its definitions of health care practitioners, and in its definition of Essential Health Benefits (EHBs),” the authors wrote, adding that two sections in the ACA provide for massage therapists to provide care: “Section 2706: Non-discrimination with respect to licensed or certified providers acting within their scope [and] Section 3502: Establishing community health teams that include CAM practitioners … ” The authors also noted that of the 10 EHBs specified in the ACA, massage therapy “has shown substantial benefit in three primary categories: 5. Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment”; 7. Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices”; and 9. Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management.”
The documents reviewers include Ruth Werner, the current president of the Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF). Thompson is MTF past president. Tracy Walton, L.M.T., and Albert Moraska, Ph.D., reviewed the document as well. The document was funded by the American Massage Therapy Association’s Washington chapter.
Read the document here.
—Karen Menehan, Editor in Chief
Sep. 9, 2010 — Researchers in Cedars-Sinai’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences have reported people who undergo massage experience measureable changes in their body’s immune and endocrine response.
Although there have been previous, smaller studies about the health benefits of massage, the Cedars-Sinai study is widely believed to be the first systematic study of a larger group of healthy adults.
The study is published in the October printed edition of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
“Massage is popular in America, with almost 9 percent of adults receiving at least one massage within the past year,” said Mark Rapaport, M.D., chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. “People often seek out massage as part of a healthy lifestyle but there hasn’t been much physiological proof of the body’s heightened immune response following massage until now.”
In the study, 29 subjects received 45 minutes of Swedish massage and 24 received 45 minutes of light touch massage. Each participant underwent informed consent, a physical and mental evaluation and was deemed to be physically healthy and free of any mental disorder. Massage therapists were trained in how to deliver both Swedish and light touch using specific and identical protocols.
Prior to the massage, study participants were fitted with intravenous catheters in order to take blood samples during the study session. Then participants were asked to rest quietly for 30 minutes. Following the rest period, blood samples were collected from each person five minutes and one minute before the massage began. At the end of the 45-minute massage session, blood samples were collected at one, five, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after the massage.
“This research indicates that massage doesn’t only feel good, it also may be good for you,” said Rapaport, the principal investigator of the study and the Polier Family Chair in Schizophrenia and Related Disorders. “More research is ahead of us but it appears that a single massage may deliver a measurable benefit.”
Among the study’s results:
- People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes ,(lymphocyte numbers and percentages white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease.
- Swedish massage caused a large decrease (effect size -.74) in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior and linked to helping cause increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
- Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
- Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.