Massage Therapy by Teresa Durrant, LMT


Profound Effects

Massage triggers specific physiological and chemical changes which cascade throughout the body with profound effects. Research shows that with regular massage arthritic sufferers note fewer aches and less stiffness and pain; asthmatic children show improved pulmonary function and increased peak air flow; high blood pressure patients demonstrate lower diastolic blood pressure, anxiety and stress hormones; PMS sufferers have decreased water retention and cramping; and preterm infants have improved weight gain.  

Research continues to show the enormous benefits of touch--which range from treating chronic diseases, neurological disorders, and injuries, to alleviating the tensions of modern lifestyles.  Consequently, the medical community is actively embracing bodywork, and massage is becoming an integral part of hospice care and neonatal intensive care units.  Many hospitals are also incorporating on-site massage practitioners and even spas to treat post-surgery or pain patients as part of the recovery process.

Research Studies


This study measured vagal activity and gastric motility in 70 medically-stable preterm babies during the first and last days of a five-day massage therapy treatment period to determine if massage therapy leads to consistent increases in vagal activity and gastric motility.  The 70 infants were assigned to either a standard Neonatal Intensive Care Unit control group or a massage therapy group.  Medical history was gathered each day including weight gain and calories consumed.  Each group consumed the same amount of calories each day.  Medical data included ECGs to measure vagal activity and EGGs which measure gastric motility taken on the first and fifth day of the  study. All data was collected at approximately the same time for all infants, which was one hour after feeding.

Infants in the massage therapy group exhibited a 30% greater weight gain than infants in the control group.  In addition, significant increases in vagal activity occurred during the massage therapy treatment, while significant increases in gastric motility occurred in the the post-treatment period of the massage therapy group.  These increases were related to the greater weight gain observed for infants in the massage therapy group.

According to the authors, "...the increase in vagal activity and gastric motility consistently noted during the first and the last assessment days and their relationship to weight gain, suggest that increase vagal activity and gastric motility may underlie the effects of massage therapy on preterm infant weight gain."

Source:  Touch Research Institute, Department of Pediatrics, University of Miami, Florida; Fielding Graduate University, School of Psychology, Santa Barbara, California; and Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Authors:  Miguel A. Diego, Tiffany Field, Maria Hernandez-Reif, Osvelia Deeds, Angela Ascencio and Gisela Begert.  Originally published in ACTA PAEDIATRICA Vol. 96 (11), 1588-1591.


Source:  Center for Practice Management and Outcomes Research, Health Services Research and Development, Department of Anesthesiology and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Sections of Cardiac Surgery and General Surgery, Geriatrics and Palliative Care Program, Departmt of Surgery, Veteran's Affairs aAnn Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Cneter for Staticitcal Cons<span id="_de_spell_word_12" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_14" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_16" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_18" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_20" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_22" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_23" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_25" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_27" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_29" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_31" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_37" style="background-color: yellow;">ul</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span>tation and Research, Department of Anesthesiology and Physical Medicine and Rehabvilitations, and Sections of Cardiac Surgery and Genral Surgery, Department of SUrgery, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Department of Surgery, RIchard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Indiana University, Indianapo<span id="_de_spell_word_33" style="background-color: yellow;"><span id="_de_spell_word_39" style="background-color: yellow;">li</span></span>s, Indiana.

Authors: Allison R. Mitchinson, N.C.T.M.B.; Hyungjin Myra Kim, Sc.D.; Jack M Rosenberg, M.D.; Michael Geisser, Ph.D.; Marvin Kirsh, M.D.; Dolores Cikrit, M.D.; and Daniel B. Hinshaw, M.D. Originally pub<span id="_de_spell_word_36" style="background-color: yellow;">li</span>shed in ARCHIVES OF SURGERY 2007; 142(12):1158-1167.