Massage & Bodywork

JULY | AUGUST 2019

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Ta k e 5 a n d t r y t h e A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 69 A comparison of traditional Swedish massage and Thai massage found that Swedish massage produced stronger relaxation responses and improved sleep, while Thai massage led to a sense of energy and revitalization. 2 Improvements in immune system function, along with reductions in stress-related hormones, have been found as well. 3 More specific effects of massage for stress are covered in the context of some of the conditions listed below. Massage Benefits for Athletes Improved Strength, Speedy Recovery—Maybe The research about massage for athletes is not always consistent; it seems to depend a lot on the sport in question and the type of athlete being studied. In general, massage appears to be a better choice after an event than before it. 4 One study found that massage may improve strength in muscles damaged by overuse; 5 another suggests that people who receive massage feel they recover from overexertion more quickly, so they can return to training sooner. 6 A systematic review of several studies found that immune system recovery is supported by postexercise massage. 7 All this said, it is important to point out that some studies have not found that massage therapy is effective in aiding athletic performance or speeding healing after exertion, so there is more to be discovered about this question. A s interest in this low-risk and highly popular intervention began to climb, the practice of massage got more attention from the research field. As a result, we discovered that some of the assumptions we made about our work were not accurate. This doesn't mean massage isn't effective, but now we can gather reliable information about how and for whom massage can be most helpful. Research has allowed practitioners to target their skills. And because we can now test some of the traditional "common wisdom" about massage, we can abandon some of the myths we used to believe—and that still show up in some places that have not updated their information. For instance, research does not support the idea that massage "flushes toxins." It is a fine idea, but not crucial, to drink water after your session. And we used to think that massage was dangerous for cancer patients, but research shows that skilled massage offers many benefits for this population. These and many more discoveries have changed the way we think about and use massage therapy. Massage Benefits for Healthy People Wellness, Relaxation, Revitalization, Improved Immune System Function While most research is conducted in the context of illnesses or conditions, some studies have looked at bodywork for healthy people and concluded that massage therapy for wellness or for stress relief is consistently effective in a variety of ways. Even a simple hand massage appears to move healthy people into a relaxed state. 1

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