Article thumbnail

Physiological Adjustments to Stress Measures Following Massage Therapy: A Review of the Literature

By Albert Moraska, Robin A. Pollini, Karen Boulanger, Marissa Z. Brooks and Lesley Teitlebaum

Abstract

Use of massage therapy by the general public has increased substantially in recent years. In light of the popularity of massage therapy for stress reduction, a comprehensive review of the peer-reviewed literature is important to summarize the effectiveness of this modality on stress-reactive physiological measures. On-line databases were searched for articles relevant to both massage therapy and stress. Articles were included in this review if (i) the massage therapy account consisted of manipulation of soft tissues and was conducted by a trained therapist, and (ii) a dependent measure to evaluate physiological stress was reported. Hormonal and physical parameters are reviewed. A total of 25 studies met all inclusion criteria. A majority of studies employed a 20–30 min massage administered twice-weekly over 5 weeks with evaluations conducted pre-post an individual session (single treatment) or following a series of sessions (multiple treatments). Single treatment reductions in salivary cortisol and heart rate were consistently noted. A sustained reduction for these measures was not supported in the literature, although the single-treatment effect was repeatable within a study. To date, the research data is insufficient to make definitive statements regarding the multiple treatment effect of massage therapy on urinary cortisol or catecholamines, but some evidence for a positive effect on diastolic blood pressure has been documented. While significant improvement has been demonstrated following massage therapy, the general research body on this topic lacks the necessary scientific rigor to provide a definitive understanding of the effect massage therapy has on many physiological variables associated with stress

Topics: Reviews
Publisher: Oxford University Press
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:2892349
Provided by: PubMed Central

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. A comparative study of Thai massage and Swedish massage relative to physiological and psychological measures.
  2. A meta-analysis of massage therapy research.
  3. (2006). A randomized, controlled trial of massage therapy as a treatment for migraine. Ann Behav Med
  4. A survey of training and practice patterns of massage therapists in two US states.
  5. (2001). Anorexia nervosa symptoms are reduced by massage therapy. Eating Disord
  6. (1983). Anxiety states: a preliminary report on the value of connective tissue massage.
  7. (1997). Assessing the quality of randomized controlled trials. Current issues and future directions.
  8. (1996). Assessing the quality of reports of randomized clinical trials: is blinding necessary? Control Clin Trials
  9. Breast cancer patients have improved immune and neuroendocrine functions following massage therapy.
  10. (1998). Bulimic adolescents benefit from massage therapy. Adolescence
  11. (1998). Burn injuries benefit from massage therapy.
  12. (2003). Catecholamines and environmental stress.
  13. Characteristics of visits to licensed acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and naturopathic physicians.
  14. (2002). Complementary and alternative medicine use among adults: United States,
  15. (2006). Cortisol responses to psychological stress in adults after prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine. Psychoneuroendocrinology
  16. Effects of adjunctive Swedish massage and vibration therapy on short-term postoperative outcomes: a randomized, controlled trial.
  17. (2005). Effects of Swedish massage on blood pressure. Complement Ther Clin Pract
  18. (2003). Eliminating Stress, Finding Inner Peace.
  19. (2006). Four methods of estimating the minimal important difference score were compared to establish a clinically significant change in Headache Impact Test.
  20. High blood pressure and associated symptoms were reduced by massage therapy.
  21. Identifying meaningful intra-individual change standards for health-related quality of life measures.
  22. Immediate effects of a five-minute foot massage on patients in critical care.
  23. immune reactivity and susceptibility to infectious disease.
  24. Interpersonal problem areas and onset of panic disorder.
  25. Lifetime trauma exposure in veterans with military-related posttraumatic stress disorder: association with current symptomatology.
  26. Lower back pain is reduced and range of motion increased after massage therapy.
  27. (1999). Massage therapy and relaxation effects on university dance students.
  28. (1997). Massage therapy as a workplace intervention for reduction of stress. Percept Mot Skills
  29. (1999). Massage therapy for patients undergoing autologous bone marrow transplantation.
  30. (1996). Massage therapy is associated with enhancement of the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity.
  31. Massage therapy of moderate and light pressure and vibrator effects on EEG and heart rate.
  32. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations.
  33. Parkinson’s disease symptoms are differentially affected by massage therapy vs. progressive muscle relaxation: a pilot study.
  34. Relationship among employment status, stressful life events, and depression in single mothers.
  35. (2005). Salivary cortisol determined by enzyme immunoassay is preferable to serum total cortisol for assessment of dynamic hypothalamic–pituitary– adrenal axis activity. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf)
  36. (1991). Strategies for promoting stress reduction and relaxation.
  37. (2004). Tactile massage improves glycaemic control in women with type 2 diabetes: a pilot study. Pract Diab Int
  38. The effect of therapeutic back massage in hypertensive persons: a preliminary study.
  39. The effectiveness of a 15minute weekly massage in reducing physical and psychological stress in nurses.
  40. The effects of therapeutic back massage on psychophysiologic variables and immune function in spouses of patients with cancer.
  41. (2006). The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: what can it tell us about stressors? CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets
  42. The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects.
  43. Therapies to reduce stress and anxiety.
  44. (2007). Therapist education impacts the massage effect on postrace muscle recovery. Med Sci Sports Exerc
  45. Trends in alternative medicine use in the United States, 1990-1997: results of a follow-up national survey.
  46. (2005). Trends in use of complementary and alternative medicine by US adults: 1997-2002. Altern Ther Health Med
  47. (2001). Which complementary and alternative therapies benefit which conditions? A survey of the opinions of 223 professional organizations. Complement Ther Med
  48. (2004). Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers, 3rd edn.
  49. Work-related stressors, depression and quality of life in Danish managers.