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April 6, 2010

Does Massage Help Anxiety?

Massage for anxiety reduction has been put to the test in a clinical trial. According to an article in the Chicago tribune, massage therapy has been a popular means for helping people relax, but this is the first time that it has been examined in people with a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

The randomized trial split 68 anxiety-ridden patients into groups where they underwent 10 hour-long treatments of one of three therapies: massage, deep breathing while lying down or thermotherapy, which involves intermittently wrapping the arms and legs in warm towels.

Massage therapy, according to the study, was beneficial but found to be no more effective than the other treatments, likely due to the generalized relaxation response. Study developers expected massage therapy to be effective because it relieves muscle tension.

The take-home message: we can teach ourselves how to relax. However, many of us have forgotten how. Like anything therapeutic, practice is key to success. But relaxation is only part of the equation. Massage therapy provides benefits beyond relaxation that cannot be replaced by lying in a darkened room for an hour with soft music. Skin is the largest human organ and is related, embryonically, to the central nervous system. From personal experience, I know that massage makes me smarter I am able to focus and therefore more efficient and productive. I can shift gears from one task to another without getting flustered by interruptions, making me less stressed. I am more in touch with my true feelings and authentic self rather than worrying about what other people think. Living up to the expectations of others is a recipe for anxiety -- in this way, massage therapy has helped me a happier person.

Posted by linda at April 6, 2010 6:08 PM

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