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April 2014

Welcome to this month’s article! How's everything going? This month’s issue has a couple of new reports regarding massage benefits you should find interesting.

Your body heals and regenerates best when you are getting adequate sleep. The first section on enhancing sleep quality with massage shares many health advantages you can get from regular massage.

The study on neck pain makes an important point: Getting the proper amount of massage can make a big difference in your overall results, especially when dealing with physical stresses and injuries. It’s easier to maintain a healthy body with regular massage than waiting until you are in dire need of that next appointment.

Remember, it won’t be long until Mother’s Day is here; make it a special day with a massage gift certificate.

See you soon!

Massage Therapy Can Enhance Sleep Quality

Massage therapy has been shown to induce relaxation and calm, and it can also lead to a better night's sleep, according to CG Funk, a licensed massage therapist...

"Massage therapy leads to a feeling of relaxation and calm, and clients often report a sense of clarity and perspective. Not only does massage therapy feel good physically, but it also seems to hit a mental 'reset button,' leading to clearer thoughts and enhanced sleep," says Funk. "Massage therapy can also manage two common sleep stealers: stress and pain. Massage therapy tackles stress on the physical level by easing muscle tightness and on the biochemical level by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol—prompting the release of endorphins, which make us feel good."

"Massage therapy has been shown to mediate pain, which is very good news for people living with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis," Funk continues. "The pain-lessening benefits of regular massage therapy lead to better sleep. Better sleep will ultimately give your body time to restore and heal."

Swedish massage therapy is what comes to mind when most people think about massage. One of the primary goals of Swedish massage is to relax the entire body, which is accomplished by rubbing the muscles with long gliding strokes in the direction of blood returning to the heart. But Swedish massage is also exceptionally beneficial for increasing the level of oxygen in the blood, decreasing muscle toxins and improving circulation and flexibility while easing tension.

A study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and published in The New York Times, found that volunteers who received a 45-minute Swedish massage experienced significant decreases in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as arginine vasopressin—a hormone that can lead to increases in cortisol. Volunteers also had increases in the number of lymphocytes—white blood cells that are part of the immune system, and a boost in the immune cells that may help fight colds and the flu.


Length of Massage Matters for Neck Pain Relief

Author: Chioma Ihekweazu / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

A recent study found that those with chronic neck pain were able to achieve significant improvements in neck-related dysfunction and pain with multiple hour-long massages every week for one month.

The researchers also found that the length of the massage and the frequency of the massage mattered. Massages shorter in length and less frequent did not lead to any meaningful improvements in neck-related dysfunction or pain.

This study was led by Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, with the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington. The research team wanted to determine the most effective dose of massage for individuals with chronic neck pain.

A total of 228 participants were recruited for this study from Group Health, an integrated healthcare system in Seattle, and from the general Seattle population. These participants were between the ages of 20 and 64 years and had chronic neck pain that lasted at least three months.

Study participants were randomly split into five groups with varying four-week massage schedules. These schedules included 30-minute massage treatments either two or three times per week or 60- minute massage treatments once, twice or three times per week. There was also a control group of participants who received no massage treatment. While the 30- and 60- minute massages were different, each massage treatment included a range of motion assessment, a hands-on check-in and a massage applied directly to the neck.

Improvements in neck pain—related dysfunction and pain intensity were observed to determine the effectiveness of massage treatments.

The researchers found that participants on the shorter (30-minute) massage schedules did not have significantly better improvements in dysfunction or pain when compared to those in the control group.

On the other hand, participants who received 60-minute massages saw significant improvements in neck-related dysfunction and pain. Those who received 60-minute massages twice a week were more than three times as likely to experience improvements in neck-related dysfunction and more than twice as likely to experience improvements in neck pain intensity when compared to those in the control group.

Individuals who received an hour-long massage three times per week were about five times more likely to experience improvements in neck-related dysfunction and more than twice as likely to experience improvements in pain intensity when compared to the control group.

The authors of this study noted that physicians who recommend massage as treatment for chronic neck pain should make sure to recommend an effective amount.

This study was published in the March/April issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.


Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside.
— Albert Schweitzer

The content of this article is not designed to replace professional medical advice. If you’re ill, consult a physician.
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