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Massage Benefits Reach Beyond Relaxation

Did you know regular therapeutic massages can do more than relieve stress? There have been numerous studies that show the positive effects of massage and the value of making them part of your wellness routine.

In fact, both The New York Times and Oprah.com recently wrote articles about a study done by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles that identified significant physical benefits from massage. Mark Rapaport, M.D., chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the center, conducted the study because he used to wonder why his wife treated herself to so many massages. He told Oprah.com, “She’d get tons of them, whereas I’d had maybe 10 in my entire life. But massage is a billion-dollar industry in the United States, which got me curious: Is there something to this beyond the fact that it feels good?”

The study, published last fall, looked at 53 healthy adults who received one of two touch treatments. Blood tests revealed that those who had a Swedish massage with moderate pressure experienced decreases in stress hormones and increases in white blood cells, indicating a boost in the immune system. Meanwhile, volunteers who had a “light touch” treatment showed higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding. Based on the findings, Rapaport believes that massage might be effective in treating inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

According to Oprah.com, Rapaport has gained such an appreciation for the power of touch that he’s starting a new trial to investigate the effects of massage on anxiety and has made the topic a personal research focus. “We’re finding biological changes associated with a single massage session,” he said. “That’s saying something.”
Here’s some additional research that indicates further massage benefits:

– A study conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine showed that ongoing massage could lower anxiety, reduce pain and improve grip strength for those that suffer from arthritis.

– Touch, which stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers, can reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.

– A recent study cited by the American Massage Therapy Association showed that in adults with migraine headaches, massage therapy decreased the occurrence of headaches, sleep disturbances and distress symptoms. It also increased serotonin levels, believed to play an important role in the regulation of mood, sleep and appetite.

– The National Center for Health Statistics found adults age 45-64 years were the most likely to report pain lasting more than 24 hours. Research indicates that massage therapy can reduce chronic pain and stress in people with lower back and neck problems with stiff joints. FBN

Mark Love is co-owner of Massage Envy Spa in Flagstaff. Massage Envy centers provide carefully customized massage treatments that best fit the needs of each individual, plus is affordable and convenient (open late, seven days a week). Massage Envy has 30 locations throughout Arizona. The Massage Envy Spa Flagstaff location is at 1235 South Plaza Way in the University Plaza Shopping Center off Milton next to Ross and Safeway. To schedule an appointment, call 928-526-ENVY (3689). For additional locations and information, visit MassageEnvy.com or Facebook.com/MEFlag.


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