There are more and more doctors recommending it as a legitimate form of therapy and treatment for a number of conditions and disorders. Perhaps most telling of all, some insurance companies even cover the cost of massage as a valid medical treatment.
For example, Health Canal recently reported on the Emory research that is investigating a possible link between massage therapy and a reduction in fatigue in breast cancer patients. Emory researchers already know that massage can stimulate energy. They’re hoping to prove that it can simultaneously reduce fatigue. Fatigue is, after all, one of the more debilitating side effects of dealing with cancer and its treatments. That fatigue, if left untreated, can turn into a variety of other conditions like depression, anxiety, etc.
The Boothbay Register, out of Maine, recently profiled a massage therapist named Patti Corscaden who is now using massage therapy to treat patients who suffer from chronic pain. Corscaden has been a licensed massage therapist for more than two decades and has treated patients who suffer from a variety of conditions. She is confident that, when used in conjunction with other medical treatments, massage therapy can be quite beneficial for chronic pain patients.
And, in Oregon, Dr. Louisa Silva has developed a massage treatment that helps lessen the severity of autism in children. If the children are given the therapy with in the first five months after being diagnosed, the treatment can reduce the effects of the autism by as much as a third. The treatment was developed specifically for very young children. 103 recently diagnosed preschool aged children were given fifteen minute whole body massages every day and the results were impressive. Sensory issues improved by 38%. Sensitivity to touch and textures improved by almost 50%.
It isn’t just severe conditions like cancer, chronic pain and autism that benefit from massage therapy. There are general benefits to the treatment and therapy as well:
Massage therapy has proven incredibly beneficial for people who suffer from mental health issues like depression, anxiety, ADHD and post-traumatic stress. The thought is that, because people with these sorts of mental health issues have dissociative and isolationist behaviors, they tend to not have very much interaction with other humans; especially where the very important and very much needed physical contact is concerned. Science has proven that people need touch to stay healthy and when a person isolates him or herself, she does not get that touch. Massage therapy reintroduces safe touching which stimulates the receptors in the brain that help people feel safe and comforted. These positive feelings help put them in a better mindframe for treating their mental health issues.
Abdominal massage, a light massage that focuses on the abdomen and the feeling out of a patient’s colon and intestines. Gentle massage in these areas has proven to reduce cramping, gas, constipation and bloating. Even non-abdominally focused massage can help with digestive issues. Massage that focuses on the back, shoulders, neck, legs and arms has proven beneficial to patients suffering from IBS and can be particularly helpful during flare ups.
The benefits of massage therapy for sports injuries seems obvious but the therapy itself can be complicated. Massage therapy can help reduce tension at injury sites and promote healing after breaks, tears and pulls. Massage therapy is also beneficial in preventing many of the more common sports injuries.
Finding a Therapist
It’s true that anybody can learn how to give a great massage. This doesn’t mean, however, that the person is qualified to serve as your massage therapist. It is important, especially if you do suffer from extreme conditions that you work with a massage therapist who specializes in these sorts of treatments. It’s also important to make sure that your massage therapist is fully qualified to work with you. For example, according to Soothe Miami, in order to qualify as a massage therapist, a person has to pass a thorough background check performed by a state investigator who then determines if that person can work with the public safely.
In other words, seek out professionals. Don’t just get your friends to rub your back and assume you’ll get the same benefits that you would from a pro.
The science is real: massage isn’t just “alternative” anymore. Tissue and muscle stimulation and therapy has proven beneficial to people’s physical and mental health.