Research, Energy Medicine, Reduce Stress

Research, Energy Medicine, Reduce Stress

Massage is Healing

What Research Says About the Bodywork You Receive

By Cindy Williams, LMT

For thousands of years, touch has been used as a therapeutic tool in communities around the globe. Why, then, do we need to conduct research to demonstrate that it works?

A primary reason for massage and bodywork research is to continue to scientifically verify all the good things therapists see happening anecdotally with their clients every day. With scientific validation comes greater acceptance by the medical community and a better understanding of the cost-effectiveness of this preventive care tool. Ultimately, massage research helps practitioners better serve their clients. And when it comes to pain, massage research continues to show us healthy alternatives for pain management.


Did you know that “chronic pain affects about 100 million adults in the United States, with an estimated annual cost of $635 billion,” which includes both direct medical expenditures and loss of work productivity.?1 With that many people in pain, massage and bodywork must come to the forefront.

The reduction or relief of pain is one of the many bene ts of massage. Add the effects hands-on therapies have on the immune system (your body’s defense, which can be weakened by pain) and the nervous system (which regulates digestion, sleep, and general outlook on life, and is also challenged when in pain), and massage is a clear recipe for a respite.

Documented research has been conducted on the eficacy of massage and bodywork for an array of pain conditions, including migraines, sports injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, post-surgical scars, and burn injuries. Let’s take a look at a few relevant findings for common pain challenges.


A study at the Flagstaff Medical Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, looked at 65 in-patients who chose to participate in a pain-management study that included documenting pain levels from medical, surgical, and obstetric units before and after treatments using a 0–10 analog pain scale. Patients received a varying number of massage sessions depending on the condition being addressed, with each session averaging 30 minutes in length. Swedish massage, acupressure, craniosacral therapy, cross-fiber myotherapy, and pressure points were the techniques applied. Pain levels were reduced from approximately a 5 on the pain scale to approximately a 2. As a result, researchers concluded that the “integration of massage therapy into the acute care setting creates overall positive results in the patient’s ability to deal with the challenging physical and psychological aspects of their health condition. The study demonstrated not only a significant reduction in pain levels, but also the interrelatedness of pain, relaxation, sleep, emotions, recovery, and finally, the healing process.”2


In 2015, a study was conducted on 38 women with chronic neck pain to assess whether integrative muscle movement technique (IMMT) is an effective treatment option for improving cervical range of motion and associated pain. This study specifically…(to read “the rest of the story”, please click here) BSSummer-2016