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Benefits of Chair Massage

Massage therapy has been studied and proven to be beneficial for good health. Chair massage benefits encompass mental, emotional, and physical health.

Various massage chair benefits include:

  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Job Stress
  • Blood pressure
  • Burns
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • PMS
  • Pre-hypertension
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stroke victims
  • Multiple-sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s Disease

    Hart, S., Field, T., Hernandez‐Reif, M., Nearing, G., Shaw, S., Schanberg, S. & Kuhn, C. (2001). Anorexia nervosa symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. Eating Disorders, 9, 289‐299.

    Nineteen women diagnosed with anorexia nervosa were given standard treatment alone or standard treatment plus massage therapy twice per week for five weeks. The massage group reported lower stress and anxiety levels and had lower cortisol levels following massage. Over the five‐week treatment period they also reported decreased body dissatisfaction on the Eating Disorder Inventory and showed increased dopamine and norepinephrine levels.


    Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T.,Goncalves, A., Burman, I. , Pickens, J., Fox, N.,Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996).

    Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197‐205.

    Adults were given a chair massage, and control group adults were asked to relax in a chair for 15 minutes, two times a week for five weeks. Frontal delta power increased for both groups, suggesting relaxation. The massage group showed decreased alpha and beta power, and increased speed and accuracy on math computations. At the end of the five‐week period depression scores were lower for both groups but job stress scores were only, for the massage group.


    Hernandez‐Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J., & Theakston, H. (2001). Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 106, 131‐145.

    Massage therapy was compared to relaxation for chronic low back pain. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported less pain, depression and anxiety and improved sleep. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance, and their serotonin and dopamine levels were higher.

    Field, T., Hernandez‐Reif, M., Diego, M., & Fraser, M. (2007). Lower back pain and sleep disturbance are reduced following massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy, 11, 141‐145.

    Massage therapy versus relaxation therapy with chronic low back pain patients was evaluated for reducing pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances, for improving trunk range of motion (ROM) and for reducing job absenteeism and increasing job productivity. Thirty adults with low back pain with a duration of at least 6 months pain participated in the study. On the first and last day of the 5‐week study participants completed questionnaires and were assessed for ROM. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported less pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance.


    Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T., Goncalves, A., Burman, I., Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations.International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197‐ 205.

    METHODS: Twenty‐six adults were given a chair massage and 24 control group adults were asked to relax in the massage chair for 15 minutes, two times per week for five weeks. On the first and last days of the study they were monitored for EEG before, during and after the sessions. In addition, before and after the sessions they performed math computations, they completed POMS Depression and State Anxiety Scales and they provided a saliva sample for cortisol. At the beginning of the sessions they completed Life Events, Job Stress and Chronic POMS Depression Scales.

    RESULTS: Analyses revealed the following:

    1. frontal delta power increased for both groups, suggesting relaxation;
    2. the massage group showed decreased frontal alpha and beta power (suggesting enhanced alertness), while the control group showed increased alpha and beta power;
    3. the massage group showed increased speed and accuracy on math computations while the control group did not change;
    4. anxiety levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions, although mood state was less depressed following both the massage and control sessions;
    5. salivary cortisol levels were lower following the massage but not the control sessions but only on the first day; and
    6. at the end of the 5 week period depression scores were lower for both groups but the job stress score was lower only for the massage group.

    Cady, S. H., & Jones, G. E. (1997). Massage therapy as a workplace intervention for reduction of stress. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 84, 157‐158.

    METHODS: The effectiveness of a 15‐min. on‐site massage while seated in a chair was evaluated for reducing stress as indicated by blood pressure. 52 employed participantsʹ blood pressures were measured before and after a 15‐min. massage at work.

    RESULTS: Analyses showed a significant reduction in participantsʹ systolic and diastolic blood pressure after receiving the massage.

    Benefits of Massage to Manage Job Stress

    Field, T., Quintino, O., Henteleff, T., Wells‐Keife, L., & Delvecchio‐Feinberg, G. (1997). Job stress reduction therapies. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 3, 54‐56.

    METHODS: The immediate effects of brief massage therapy, music relaxation with visual imagery, muscle relaxation, and social support group sessions were assessed in 100 hospital employees at a major public hospital.

    RESULTS: Each of the groups reported decreases in anxiety, depression, fatigue, and confusion, as well as increased vigor following the sessions. That the groups did not differ on these variables suggests that these particular therapies, when applied for short periods of time, are equally effective for reducing stress among hospital employees.

    Katz, J., Wowk, A., Culp, D., & Wakeling, H. (1999). Pain and tension are reduced among hospital nurses after on‐site massage treatments: a pilot study. Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing, 14, 128‐133.

    METHODS: The aims of this pilot study were (1) to evaluate the feasibility of carrying out a series of eight 15‐minute workplace‐based massage treatments, and (2) to determine whether massage therapy reduced pain and stress experienced by nursing staff at a large teaching hospital. Twelve hospital staff (10 registered nurses and 2 nonmedical ward staff) working in a large tertiary care center volunteered to participate. Participants received up to eight, workplace‐based, 15‐minute Swedish massage treatments provided by registered massage therapists. Pain, tension, relaxation, and the Profile of Mood States were measured before and after each massage session.

    RESULTS:Pain intensity and tension levels were significantly lower after massage. In addition, relaxation levels and overall mood state improved significantly after treatments.


    Hernandez‐Reif, M., Field, T., Krasnegor, J. & Theakston, H.(2000). High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 4, 31‐38.

    High blood pressure is associated with elevated anxiety, stress and stress hormones, hostility, depression and catecholamines. Massage therapy and progressive muscle relaxation were evaluated as treatments for reducing blood pressure and these associated symptoms. Adults who had been diagnosed as hypertensive received ten 30 min massage sessions over five weeks or they were given progressive muscle relaxation instructions (control group). Sitting diastolic blood pressure decreased after the first and last massage therapy sessions and reclining diastolic blood pressure decreased from the first to the last day of the study. Although both groups reported less anxiety, only the massage therapy group reported less depression and hostility and showed decreased cortisol.


    Field, T., Peck, M., Krugman, S., Tuchel, T., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C. & Burman, I. (1998). Burn injuries benefit from massage therapy. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 19, 241‐244.

    Twenty‐eight adult patients with burns were randomly assigned before debridement to either a massage therapy group or a standard treatment control group. State anxiety and cortisol levels decreased, and behavior ratings of state, activity, vocalizations and anxiety improved after the massage therapy sessions on the first and last days of treatment.

    Field, T., Peck, M., Hernandez‐Reif, M., Krugman, S., Burman, I. & Ozment‐Schenck, L. (2000). Post burn itching, pain, and psychological symptoms are reduced with massage therapy. Journal of Burn Care and Rehabilitation, 21, 189‐193.

    Twenty patients with burn injuries were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a standard treatment control group during the remodeling phase of wound healing. The massage therapy group received a 30‐minute massage with cocoa butter to a closed, moderate‐sized scar tissue area twice a week for 5 weeks. The massage therapy group reported reduced itching, pain, and anxiety and improved mood immediately after the first and last therapy sessions, and their ratings on these measures improved from the first day to the last day of the study.

    Diego, M. & Field, T. (2009). Moderate Pressure Massage Elicits a Parasympathetic Nervous System Response.International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 630‐639.

    Twenty healthy adults were randomly assigned to a moderate pressure or light pressure massage therapy group, and EKGs were recorded during a 3‐minute baseline, during the 15‐minute therapy group, and EKGs were recorded during a 3‐minute baseline, during the 15‐minute massage period and during a 3‐minute post massage period. EKG data were then used to derive the high frequency (LH), low frequency (LF) components of heart variablilty and the low to high frequency ratio as noninvasive markers of autonomic nervous system activity. The participants who received the moderate pressure massage exhibited a parasympathic nervous system response characterized by an increase in HF, suggesting increased vagal efferent activity and a decrease in the LF/HF ratio, suggesting a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic activity that peaked during the first half of the massage period. On the other hand, those who received the light pressure massage exhibited a sympathetic nervous system response characterized by decreased HF and increased LF/HF.


    Field, T., Grizzle, N., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Massage and relaxation therapiesʹ effects on depressed adolescent mothers. Adolescence, 31, 903‐911.

    Thirty‐two depressed adolescent mothers received ten 30‐minute sessions of massage therapy or relaxation therapy over a five‐week period. Subjects were randomly assigned to each group. Although both groups reported lower anxiety following their first and final sessions, although only the massage therapy group showed behavioral and stress hormone changes, including a decrease in anxious behavior, heartrate and cortisol levels.

    Ironson, G., Field, T.M., Scafidi, F., Hashimoto, M., Kumar, M., Kumar, A., Price, A., Goncalves, A., Burman, I. , Tetenman, C., Patarca, R. & Fletcher, M.A. (1996). Massage therapy is associated with enhancement of the immune systemʹs cytotoxic capacity. International Journal of Neuroscience, 84, 205‐217.

    Twenty nine gay men with HIV received massage for 1 month. Major immune findings for the effects of the month of massage included an increase in Natural Killer Cell number. Major neuroendocrine findings included a decrease in cortisol. Anxiety also decreased and relaxation increased which were correlated with increased in NK cell numbers.

    Sunshine, W., Field, T.M., Quintino, O., Fierro, K., Kuhn, C., Burman, I. & Schanberg, S. (1996). Fibromyalgia benefits from massage therapy and transcutaneous electrical stimulation. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology, 2, 18‐22.

    Adult fibromyalgia syndrome subjects were randomly assigned to a massage therapy, a transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), or a transcutaneous electrical stimulation no‐current roup for 30‐minute treatment sessions two times per week for 5 weeks. The massage therapy subjects reported lower anxiety and depression, and their cortisol levels were lower immediately after the therapy sessions on the first and last days of the study. The TENS group showed similar changes, but only after therapy on the last day of the study.

    Field, T., Quintino, O., Henteleff, T., Wells‐Keife, L. & Delvecchio‐Feinberg, G. (1997). Job stress reduction therapies. Alternative Therapies, 3, 54‐56.

    The immediate effects of brief massage therapy, music relaxation with visual imagery, muscle relaxation, and social support group sessions were assessed in 100 hospital employees at a major public hospital. The effects of the therapies were assessed using a within‐subjects pre‐post test design and by comparisons across groups. The groups reported decreased anxiety, depression, fatigue, and confusion, as well as increased vigor following the session.

    Field, T.M., Sunshine, W., Hernandez‐Reif, M., Quintino, O., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C., & Burman, I. (1997). Massage therapy effects on depression and somatic symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 3, 43‐51.

    Twenty subjects with chronic fatigue immunodeficiency syndrome were randomly assigned either to a massage therapy or an attention control group. Although depression and anxiety scores were initially as high as clinically depressed patients, analyses of the before versus after therapy session measures on the first and last day of treatment revealed that immediately following massage therapy depression scores, pain, and cortisol levels decreased more in the massage versus control group.


    The Effects of Massage Therapy on Diabetes Mellitus, Type II

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2007, “23.6 million people or 7.8% of the population have diabetes.” This startling statistic means that finding effective treatments for this disease is increasingly essential to our overall health and well‐being. While there are several medications in use to control elevated blood glucose levels, these medications have sometimes serious side effects, and experts recognize that manual manipulation of insulin and blood sugar levels can never come close to the body’s own regulatory system. The question then becomes, how do we encourage the body to regulate itself, apart from using medications? Aside from the well‐known positive effects of diet and exercise, what other therapies are useful in diabetes management? Can massage therapy be an effective treatment, in combination with primary medication therapies? With the many positive benefits that massage therapy offers, I believe that it can be a significant aid to achieving proper diabetes control and improving the quality of life for many people living with diabetes.

    The first step is to investigate what occurs in the body with diabetes. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), “Type 2 diabetes is a disease in which your pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes. If you have type 2 diabetes, glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy.” The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) uses a diagnostic criteria of a fasting plasma glucose level of ≥126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or a 2‐hour post glucose challenge plasma glucose concentration of ≥200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/L). (Prediabetes Consensus Statement, 936)

    Physical Effects and Symptoms of Stress

    Stress hormones, or counter‐regulatory hormones, have a negative effect on blood glucose levels and control. In fact, they are called “counter‐regulatory” by endocrinologists because of this hyperglycemic effect. There are five main actions that these hormones have:

    1. Insulin Acetylcholine tends to increase insulin production, but Norepinephrine and Beta‐Endorphin tend to depress insulin secretion and Epinephrine can do both.
    2. Hepatic Glucose Production Acetylcholine, Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and Cortisol all increase the production of glucose by the liver.
    3. Glucose Utilization Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, Cortisol and Growth hormone all inhibit the utilization of glucose by the cells in the body.
    4. Lypolysis Norepinephrine, Epinephrine and Cortisol increase the breakdown of fats and the release of fatty acids into the blood stream.
    5. Blood Glucose All six of the stress hormones directly increase blood glucose levels. While this adaptation is beneficial and provides energy in moments of sudden, extreme physical exertion, it becomes problematic if there is no output of energy, or if the person has a compromised metabolic system. (Surwit, R., Schneider, M. 380‐2)

    Other, more visible effects of stress include an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, breath rate, and sweat production. These effects can be directly related to various stress hormones, such as the effect of epinephrine on the heart rate. Considering that clients with TIID already have documented issues with high blood pressure and heart rate, this is a major concern. Managing and living with diabetes can be stressful in itself, as well, so stress control becomes even more vital to diabetic clients and their continued efforts in handling their disease.

    Emotional anxiety may encourage negative coping mechanisms that are ultimately detrimental to good health such as smoking, drinking coffee or alcohol, or eating excessively. Unfortunately, some of these coping behaviours involve the consumption of stimulants, which can actually encourage the production of even more stress hormones, making the stress response worse. (Canadian Mental Health Association)

    Effects of Relaxation Techniques on Stress

    Relaxation techniques are designed to promote firing of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), and decrease the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) reactions that occur during stress. Because of this, they have been studied as a possible treatment for diabetics, and studies have shown that they reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol, improve glycemic control, and lower blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. (Surwit, R., Schneider, M. 388) Research has also found that lifestyle interventions are more cost‐effective than medications. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

    Psychological Factors and Diabetes

    According to the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), over 15% of people with diabetes also experience major, clinical depression. (CDA, “Diabetes and Depression”) Having depression makes it more difficult to persist in maintaining positive lifestyle changes that can help control diabetes and maintain the strict eating, exercise, and medication regimes that are necessary to maintain health. This also has an effect on how stable the person’s blood sugar levels will be and how well he or she experiences and manages stress. Anxiety disorders are another important factor that also appears to be more common in diabetics (14%) than in the general population (2 – 3%). While there is much to be learned about this connection, there is some evidence that suggests that uncontrolled blood sugar levels may actually contribute toward anxiety levels. (CDA, “Diabetes and Depression”)

    Effects of Circulatory Impairments Due to Diabetes

    Many of the serious health issues faced by people with TTDM can be attributed, at least in part, to problems with circulation of either blood and/or lymph throughout the body. It is theorized that neuropathy, for instance, is caused by nutrition deficit and necrosis of the axons as the nerve travels distally through the body and the circulation is gradually more impaired. Diabetic kidney disease is caused by damage to the vascular structure of the kidneys. A protein (albumin – a vital transport protein in the body) leaks out, instead of being maintained in the blood. Added to this is the stress of increased urination in an attempt to excrete excess glucose from the blood. As the damage worsens, the kidney will eventually begin to fail. (CDA, “Diabetes and Kidney Disease”) Retinopathy is a condition of vision impairment due to damage of the tiny veins and arteries underneath the retina. As mentioned in Rattray, “It is the sole cause of blindness in approximately 86 per cent of people with onset of diabetes under 30 years of age…” (1012) Many diabetics also face impairment in the ability of their bodies to fight disease and infection. This can result in ulcerations of the skin, infection, and possibly even amputation. Unfortunately, aside from suggestions of “check your feet regularly”, “keep your blood glucose at target” and “get daily exercise”, there are not many practical suggestions that are given for preventing this circulation degeneration. (CDA)

    **Effects of Massage Therapy

    Massage therapy has many documented effects on the physical symptoms of stress. The effects on the autonomic nervous system (ANS) have been well‐documented. Common reactions include a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure and a self‐rated reduction in anxiety. Clients commonly come away from a massage session feeling relaxed and calm – sometimes even to the point of what is commonly referred to as “massage fog”, a temporary “fogginess” of cognitive function and coordination due to being in an extremely relaxed state. Other signs of parasympathetic nervous system firing include an improvement in digestion and an increase in salivary and nasal secretions. Many clients experience nasal congestion and some will salivate excessively and even drool while on the massage table.

    In a study mentioned by Ezzo, Donner, and Cox, preliminary data showed that the HbA1c decreased in patients who had non‐insulin‐dependent diabetes and were receiving 45‐minute, full‐body massages three times per week for 12 weeks. (220) Another study by Field et al. demonstrated an improvement in glucose control in diabetic children whose parents gave them a 20‐minute massage every night for 30 days versus a control group who used relaxation techniques instead for the trial period. (237‐9)

    Massage therapy is also known for increasing the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, especially in tissues where circulation has been compromised to some degree previously. Several studies have investigated this effect and have shown promising results. One of the damaging effects that TTDM has on blood vessels is to reduce the plasticity of the muscles and fascia of the blood and lymphatic vessels, as well as the tissues that surround them. Massage therapy specifically addresses these issues, resulting in great improvements. Several mechanisms are suggested, ranging from the local release of vasodilators to the “pumping” action of the massage itself or a triggering of the reflex response of the ANS that then causes systemic effects.(Rattray, Ludwig 12) Specific techniques are available to encourage lymphatic flow and drainage, which reduces edema which, when systemic, is a contributing factor in heart disease. This increase in circulation can be especially important if the client has decreased sensation in the extremities or is slow to heal as the risk of developing an infection and ultimately requiring amputation is high. It should be noted, however, that with neuralgia, the client may not be able to give accurate feedback, and therefore caution must be used with any deep techniques that might cause unintentional injury. (Rattray, Ludwig 1011, 1015) Many people with diabetes also experience a thickening of the connective tissue surrounding their muscles and internal organs. This thick, tight fascia inhibits full normal range of motion (ROM) and can cause stiffness and discomfort as well. (Rose, “Therapeutic Massage – complementary Health Care” 1) Massage therapy will directly address this, and there are several myofascial techniques that are very effective at relieving the discomfort and improving ROM.

    Massage has also been casually linked to a direct effect on blood glucose levels. (Rattray, Ludwig 1012) While there is a distinct lack of credible research on this effect, one Diabetes Clinic had its participants check their blood glucose both before and after massage treatments. The treatments were one hour long, and the clinic found that on average “blood sugars tended to drop 20–40 points in the hour, which would be equivalent to the drop experienced with moderate activity.” (Rose, “Therapeutic Massage and Diabetes”)


    As with any chronic health condition, client quality of life needs to be vital to any treatment plan. This includes the ability to continue with the regular Daily Activities of Living (DAL), as well as maintaining a “normal” life as much as possible and encouraging a feeling of control over his or her medical situation.

    In general,managing TTDM can be time consuming and frustrating. It can take time to develop a combination of strategies that work appropriately, and as diabetes is a progressive condition, it will get worse over time, although with good control, the progression can be delayed. Of course, management of the disease is vital, too. Measures such as blood glucose levels, Hb1Ac levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels are important indicators of how quickly the disease is progressing, as well as the general state of health of the client. Medications are still vital treatment options, especially with managing glucose control. Unfortunately, these medications can have potentially serious side effects, some of which can counteract each other; therefore these side effects need to be taken into careful consideration with any treatment protocol. Circulation is vital to preventing some of the more serious damage and conditions caused by TTDM. Massage therapy is uniquely beneficial in this regard, with many techniques specifically designed to improve circulation including lymphatic circulation and drainage. This can potentially prevent or slow down the progression of neuropathy, retinopathy, and kidney disease. Improved circulation can help reduce systemic edema, which reduces the strain on the heart and can improve the risk of CVD. Increased nutrients to the tissues of the body, as well as increased access to the body’s immune system can assist in fighting contagion, thus decreasing the risk of life‐threatening infections requiring amputation. Massage can also help manage client‐centered symptoms. Pain and altered sensation from neuropathy can be relieved, adhesions can be broken down, range of motion can be improved, and depression can be alleviated. There is also some suggestion that massage itself may help to lower blood glucose levels. While there have not been any clinically significant studies on this effect, there is experiential and anecdotal evidence that suggests a connection. This would be an excellent subject for further study, in my opinion. Massage also has few side effects, and the risks and contra‐indications for those suffering from the more serious aspects of TTDM, such as neuropathy and heart disease, can be managed in most cases with various accommodations. These accommodations can include changes of depth of pressure; using slow, soothing techniques instead of stimulating techniques; avoiding long strokes over large areas of the body; and altering the position the client is in during massage to perhaps side‐lying or semi‐sitting. When taking all of these factors into account, the evidence is mounting toward the use of massage therapy as an effective method of managing not only diabetes itself, but improving the quality of life of those living with this disease. The challenge now is to put together a clinically significant study on the specific effects that massage therapy has on treating and managing Type II Diabetes Mellitus so that we can then compare them against the specific effects of using medication therapies and lifestyle therapies, as well as to ensure that there are no hidden complications that we are not yet aware of through anecdotal evidence.


    1. Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA), “Type 2 diabetes: The basics”, accessed February 15, 2009 just‐diagnosed/type2/>
    2. ‐‐‐, “Diabetes and Depression”, accessed March 2, 2009 about‐diabetes/living/complications/depression/>
    3. ‐‐‐, “Diabetes and Kidney Disease”, accessed March 2, 2009 living/complications/kidney/>
    4. Canadian Mental Health Association, “Stress”, accessed March 2, 2009
    5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “National Diabetes Fact Sheet: General Information And National Estimates On Diabetes In The Unites States” (2007), accessed February 15, 2009
    6. . Ezzo, J., Donner, T., Cox, M. “Is Massage Useful in the Management of Diabetes? A Systematic Review” Diabetes Spectrum 2001 v14, n4 218‐24
    7. Field, T., Hernandez‐Reif, M., LaGreca, A., Shaw, K., Schanberg, S., and Kuhn, C. (1997). Massage Therapy Lowers Blood Glucose Levels In Children With Diabetes Mellitus. Diabetes Spectrum v.10, p.237‐239
    8. O’Connell, B. “Complementary and Integrative Medicine: Emerging Therapies for Diabetes, Part I” Diabetes Spectrum (2001) v14, n4 196‐197
    9. Payne, C. “Complementary and Integrative Medicine: Emerging Therapies for Diabetes, Part I” Diabetes Spectrum (2001) v14, n3 129‐60
    10. Prediabetes Consensus Statement, Endocr Pract. (2008);14 (No. 7)
    11. Rattray, Ludwig, Clinical Massage Therapy (2005)
    12. Rose, M. “Therapeutic Massage – Complementary Health Care for Diabetes” Diabetes Self‐Management (October 04, 2007), accessed March 2, 2009 Alternative_Medicine_Complementary_Therapies/Therapeutic_Massage/1>
    13. Rose, M. “Therapeutic Massage and Diabetes ‐ Hypoglycemia: What Massage Therapists and Diabetics Need to Know” (2005)
    14. Surwit, R., Schneider, M. “Role of Stress in the Etiology and Treatment of Diabetes Mellitus.” Psychosomatic Medicine (1993) 55:380 – 93

    Effects of Massage on Fibromyalgia

    Are the aches and pains of fibromyalgia getting you down? If so, then massage therapy might be just what you need to help put some spring back into your step. Recently, massage therapy has become extremely popular among fibromyalgia patients. It works to reduce pain, eliminate stiffness, and helps you to relax and take some time out for yourself. If you are interested in massage, this article will outline the treatment’s basic principles and how it can benefit your fibromyalgia symptoms. Massage therapy is a hands‐on treatment that is becoming more and more popular, both with fibromyalgia patients and other pain sufferers. In massage therapy, your muscles and soft tissues are manipulated in order to relieve stress, reduce pain, and increase flexibility. Usually done with the hands, there are a variety of different techniques used to give a massage. Common techniques involve stroking, kneading, and palpating the muscles. Sometimes, a special instrument or device is used to help relieve tension in tight muscles. Hot and cold therapies are also used during massages in order to increase blood flow and relax muscles.

    How Does Massage Therapy Work?

    Massage therapy can really reduce the pain, stiffness, and tender points caused by fibromyalgia syndrome. But how does it manage to do this? Well, no one is 100% sure on how massage actually reduces pain, but it may have something to do with the central nervous system. It is theorized that massage therapy actually enhances the production of certain pain blockers, including endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These hormones work to counteract pain signals conducted by the brain, and this would explain why massage offers such dramatic pain relief.

    Benefits of Massage Therapy For Fibromyalgia Sufferers

    Massage therapy is actually one of the most beneficial treatments for fibromyalgia pain and fatigue. In fact, in a survey completed by fibromyalgia sufferers, massage therapy was rated the best fibromyalgia treatment option by an overwhelming margin. Massage therapy benefits include:

    • increased blood circulation to the muscles, allowing for faster muscle repair
    • increased flexibility
    • increased range of motion
    • decreased stress and depression
    • reduced pain
    • reduced stiffness
    • improved sleep patterns

    In a 1996 study, fibromyalgia sufferers reported a 38% decrease in pain symptoms after receiving just ten, 30 minute massage sessions. They also reported a significant decrease in their sleep difficulties: they began sleeping for longer periods at a time and were disturbed less by sleep disorders. www.fibromyalgia‐symptoms.org/fibromyalgia_massage.html

    Fibromyalgia Pain and Substance P Decrease and Sleep Improves After Massage Therapy.

    Field T, Diego M, Cullen C, Hernandez‐Reif M, Sunshine W, Douglas S.


    Touch Research Institutes, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida

    33101, USA. tfield@med.miami.edu


    Massage therapy has been observed to be helpful in some patients with fibromyalgia. This study was designed to examine the effects of massage therapy versus relaxation therapy on sleep, substance P, and pain in fibromyalgia patients. Twenty‐four adult fibromyalgia patients were assigned randomly to a massage therapy or relaxation therapy group. They received 30‐minute treatments twice weekly for 5 weeks. Both groups showed a decrease in anxiety and depressed mood immediately after the first and last therapy sessions. However, across the course of the study, only the massage therapy group reported an increase in the number of sleep hours and a decrease in their sleep movements. In addition, substance P levels decreased, and the patientsʹ physicians assigned lower disease and pain ratings and rated fewer tender points in the massage therapy group.



    Hernandez‐Reif, M., Dieter J., Field, T., Swerdlow, B., & Diego, M. (1998). Migraine headaches are reduced by massage therapy. International Journal of Neuroscience, 96, 1‐11.

    Twenty‐six adults with migraine headaches were randomly assigned to a wait‐list control group or to a massage therapy group, who received two 30‐minute massages per week for five consecutive weeks. The massage therapy subjects reported fewer distress symptoms, less pain, more headache free days, fewer sleep disturbances, and they showed an increase in serotonin levels.


    A Randomized, Controlled Trial Of Massage Therapy As A Treatment For Migraine. Lawler SP, Cameron LD.Source, Department of Psychology, The University of Auckland. s.lawler@uq.edu.au


    BACKGROUND: Migraine is a distressing disorder that is often triggered by stress and poor sleep. Only one randomized controlled trial (RCT) has assessed the effects of massage therapy on migraine experiences, which yielded some promising findings.

    PURPOSE: An RCT was designed to replicate and extend the earlier findings using a larger sample, additional stress‐related indicators, and assessments past the final session to identify longerterm effects of massage therapy on stress and migraine experiences.

    METHODS: Migraine sufferers (N = 47) who were randomly assigned to massage or control conditions completed daily assessments of migraine experiences and sleep patterns for 13 weeks. Massage participants attended weekly massage sessions during Weeks 5 to 10. State anxiety, heart rates, and salivary cortisol were assessed before and after the sessions. Perceived stress and coping efficacy were assessed at Weeks 4, 10, and 13.

    RESULTS: Compared to control participants, massage participants exhibited greater improvements in migraine frequency and sleep quality during the intervention weeks and the 3 follow‐up weeks. Trends for beneficial effects of massage therapy on perceived stress and coping efficacy were observed. During sessions, massage induced decreases in state anxiety, heart rate, and cortisol.

    CONCLUSIONS: The findings provide preliminary support for the utility of massage therapy as a nonpharmacologic treatment for individuals suffering from migraines.


    Hernandez‐Reif, M., Field, T., Field, T., & Theakston, H. (1998). Multiple sclerosis patients benefit from massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 2, 168‐174.

    Twenty‐four adults with multiple sclerosis were randomly assigned to a standard medical treatment control group or a massage therapy group that received 45‐minute massages twice a week for 5 weeks. The massage group had lower anxiety and less depressed mood immediately following the massage sessions and, by the end of the study, they had improved self‐esteem, better body image and image of disease progression and enhanced social functional status


    Massage as Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

    A report of a small pilot study has indicated that massage therapy offers appreciable benefits for MS patients. Twelve patients (8 female and 4 male) all with diagnosed MS participated in the study in which participants were given a 25 minute back and leg oil massage given by qualified massage therapists. Each treatment began with effleurage (rhythmic stroking) which was followed by petrissage (kneading) and then ended with light effleurage. Mood states including tension, depression, anger, fatigue and vigor were recorded pre‐ andpost treatment using a modified Profile of Mood States (POMS) questionnaire. The participants were also asked to summarize their own subjective perception of the benefits of the massage treatment in a one‐word answer. Immunological effects were monitored by taking a saliva sample pre‐ and post treatment which was immediately frozen to eliminate any reaction of the protein and later analyzed.

    The results showed that significant beneficial changes occurred in the patients’ mood states after massage therapy, and more interestingly, patients with negative mood states prior to treatment showed noticeable improvements in their immune functioning after the massage treatment. The researchers noted that their results support their hypothesis that massage ʺwould produce a more positive mood state with MS sufferersʺ and that it ʺwould promote positive immune modulation in those clientsʺ.

    Although a very small scale study which had no control group (indicating that any conclusions should be drawn with great caution), this piece of research does support earlier research findings that massage appears to offer psychological benefits by reducing the negative mood states of tension and fatigue, whilst maintaining a high level of vigor and a positive mood state. Further research will no doubt be forthcoming, but in the meantime, massage therapy may be considered a useful complementary therapy for MS patients.

    Graydon J, McKee N. Massage as therapy in multiple sclerosis. JACM July 1997 27‐28.


    The Benefits of Massage Therapy on Parkinsonʹs Disease by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.

    Parkinsonʹs disease, also called Parkinsonism, is a fairly common progressive degenerative central nervous system (CNS) disorder. Affecting about one in 1,000 people in the U.S., Parkinsonʹs disease is a dysfunction in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain that controls voluntary movement. Characteristic symptoms of this chronic, progressive neurodegenerative movement disorder include tremors, rigidity, slow movement (bradykinesia), poor balance and difficulty walking (called parkinsonian gait).

    Parkinsonism results from the degeneration of dopamine‐producing nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that stimulates motor neurons, the nerve cells that control muscles. When dopamine production is depleted, the motor system nerves are unable to control movement and coordination. People with Parkinsonʹs disease have lost 80% or more of their dopamineproducing cells by the time symptoms appear. While symptoms may appear at any age, the average age of onset is 60 years old.

    Massage Therapy

    The benefits of massage therapy have long been recognized by people with Parkinsonʹs disease. Because Parkinsonʹs disease typically causes muscle stiffness and rigidity, bodyworkʹs ability to alleviate joint and muscle stiffness makes it a logical choice.


    According to a 2002 study conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami, along with staff from the universityʹs neurology department and Duke Universityʹs pharmacology department, Parkinsonʹs disease symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. In this study, the group of adults with Parkinsonʹs disease who received two massages a week for five weeks experienced improved daily functioning, increased quality of sleep and decreased stress‐hormone levels. The massage consisted of 15 minutes in the prone position, focusing on the back, buttocks, ribs, thighs, calves and feet; and 15 minutes in the supine position, focusing on the thighs, lower legs, feet, hands, forearms, upper arms, neck, face and head. The studyʹs authors reported, ʺThese findings suggest that massage therapy enhances functioning in progressive or degenerative central nervous system disorders or conditions.ʺ

    While several different massage modalities have been quantifiably researched in the context of Parkinsonism, including Trager, Alexander Technique and Swedish massage, all modalities report improvement in function, from the reduction of rigidity and improvement of sleep, to the reduction of tremor and increase of daily activity stamina.


    The Effect of Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure of Women with Pre‐Hypertension. Moeini M, Givi M, Ghasempour Z, Sadeghi M.

    Department of Internal Surgery, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran.


    BACKGROUND: Pre‐hypertension is considered as a cardiovascular disease predicator. Management of prehypertension is an appropriate objective for clinicians in a wide range of medical centers. Treatment of pre‐hypertension is primarily non‐pharmacological, one of which is massage therapy that is used to control the blood pressure. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of Swedish massage (face, neck, shoulders and chest) on blood pressure (BP) of the women with pre‐hypertension.

    METHODS:This was a single‐blind clinical trial study. Fifty pre‐hypertensive women selected by simple random sampling which divided into control and test groups. The test group (25 patients) received Swedish massage 10‐15 min, three times a week for 10 sessions and the control groups (25 patients) also were relaxed at the same environment with receiving no massage. Their BP was measured before and after each session. Analyzing the data was done using descriptive and inferential statistical methods (chi square, Mann‐Whitney, paired t‐test and student t‐test) through SPSS software.

    RESULTS: The results indicated that mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the massage group was significantly lower in comparison with the control group (p < 0.001).

    CONCLUSIONS:Findings of the study indicated that massage therapy was a safe, effective, applicable and cost‐effective intervention in controlling BP of the prehypertension women and it can be used in the health care centers and even at home.


    Hernandez‐Reif, M, Martinez , A., Field, T., Quintino, O., Hart, S., & Burman, I. (2000). Premenstrual syndrome symptoms are relieved by massage therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 21, 9‐15.

    Twenty‐four women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group. The massage group showed decreased anxiety, depressed mood and pain immediately after the first and last massage sessions. The longer term effects of massage therapy included a reduction in pain and water retention and overall menstrual distress.


    Benefits of Massage for Stroke Victims

    Recent scientific studies have shown that when massaged, stroke patients experienced increased mobility, decreased pain, decreased depression and as a result used less medication. Please read on for more ways in which massage can help patients manage the long term side effects of a stroke.

    Massage Improves Mobility in a Stroke Victim

    Stroke victims with mobility issues may benefit greatly from massage. Using various techniques, massage of the muscles can stimulate blood flow and consequently improved overall mobility. Specific nerve centres may be stimulated using acupressure in massage, or mobility may be increased using the long, heavy strokes of Swedish massage instead.

    Massage Relieves Fatigue in a Stroke Victim

    Fatigue is a common, long‐term side effect of stroke. Symptoms associated with the fatigue include never feeling rested, excessive sleep, slower speech and movement, shortness of breath, lack of care and interest, a strong desire to be alone. Massage can increase the levels of energy and assist the stroke victim in conserving it. It does so by releasing muscle tension and toxins in the muscles and reducing the stress hormone called cortisol.

    Massage Helps Insomnia in a Stroke Victim

    Stroke victims may experience insomnia as it can be difficult to sleep with a dry mouth, shortness of breath, muscle discomfort, and muscle stiffness. Massage can help improve Insomnia experienced in creating a more relaxed state for the person both physically and mentally. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for allowing your body to relax. It is common for a person to even fall asleep in a massage!

    Massage Improves Circulation in a Stroke Victim

    Poor circulation is a common cause of stroke. It is important for stroke victims to address the issue in order to prevent another stroke from occurring. Gentle massage can stimulate circulation and internal organs and create warmth. Extremities such as hands and feet may be swollen, achy or cold due to an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles caused by decreased mobility in someone who has had a stroke. The good circulation stimulated by massage delivers oxygen‐rich blood to these damaged, tense muscles, which is exactly what they need to heal.

    Massage Decreases Pain and Banishes Cramps in a Stroke Victim

    Pain may be experienced by stroke victims. This is generally a result of stiff joints, muscle tension and cramps. Sore, stiff joints may be alleviated by gentle massage as muscles surrounding the soft tissues surrounding the joint receive better blood supply from an increase in blood circulation. Increased circulation from massage therapy can also help to alleviate cramps, as they are usually the result of the muscle not receiving adequate blood flow.