Would you like to improve circulation? Maybe you are interested in stimulating your lymph system to increase your body’s ability to fight toxic invaders? Perhaps you want to increase the number of endorphins released? These are common claims made by massage therapists, but are they true? Is there any science-based evidence supporting these supposed benefits? The answer is simple, most massage modalities have no proven benefit.
Life is already challenging, lets avoid increasing that difficulty. We achieve this by advocating for ourselves, one great way to start is by being critical about the advice we are given. We should be exceptionally critical of any treatment option we use, especially when it comes to our health. In this article we are specifically discussing the benefits of massage. In my research I have discovered two proven benefits:
- It can down regulate the sympathetic nervous system.
- It feels great.
I believe it is natural to search for the truth, and I believe we should always reach for the stars. The best way to understand our world and the stars beyond is with the scientific method. This process has paved the way for society to engineer lifesaving technologies that have saved countless lives. It is healthy to desire knowledge and to ask why. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to ask why or what science is. Many massage therapists have never been taught how to research or critically think, this paves the way for pseudo-medicine to continually nest within the massage industry. By and large massage therapists are undereducated, and they tend to cling to pre-science modalities or unproven ideas. This causes massage therapists to perpetuate myths and falsehoods. I want to help you protect yourself from this inaccurate information. The best way I know how is by showing you how to become your own advocate.
So how do I protect myself from low quality massage therapists? Finding the right massage therapist is like finding the right doctor. Now, by no means am I saying a massage therapist is equal to a doctor in education or scope of practice, but the way we approach our health should be universal.
Before using any massage therapist, we should review their website, or the company’s website they are employed by. This is done to see what modalities they use, and to determine if they provide evidence supporting the efficacy of these modalities. Contact the massage therapist and discuss their theory of massage, do their ideas match yours? If they don’t understand your needs, your needs will not be met. Not all massage therapists research and write articles, but if they do, this is a great way to see what their approach to massage is. If you can access a few, take some time to read them to determine if they are worth your hard-earned money.
Massage therapy makes all sorts of claims, here are some of the most common:
- Increased circulation.
- Increases stimulation of the lymph system to increase the body’s ability to fight toxic invaders.
- Releases endorphins.
- Improved range of motion.
- Relaxation of injured muscles.
- Increased recovery time after exercise.
- Increased joint flexibility.
- Treats migraines.
- Reduces post-operative adhesions.
- Reduces edema.
- Reduces scar tissue.
- Helps eliminate lactic acid from muscles.
- Removes toxins from the body.
It is easy to claim massage has a benefit, it is much more difficult to provide science-based evidence it plays a significant role in treating a disease or condition. Some of the claims above might be possible, but others are simply ludicrous.
Here are some more claims, take a look and ask yourself if you believe massage therapy could be an effective treatment option for the following conditions:
- Chronic pain.
- Disc problems.
- Pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Neurological dysfunction.
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
- Painful scars.
- Interstitial Cystitis.
- Mastectomy Pain.
- Menstrual Problems.
- Painful Intercourse.
- Urinary Frequency.
- Problematic Breast Implant.
- Infertility Problems.
- Urinary Incontinence.
- Urinary Urgency.
- Episiotomy Scars.
- Pelvic Floor Pain.
- Pudendal Nerve Entrapment.
Massage therapy is great, it feels good and as a result it relaxes us. In a world of hardship, challenge and infinite obstacles, massage has a great slice of the wellness pie. We provide a healthy, ethical and effective form of instant gratification. A client doesn’t have to worry about adverse effects or addiction when receiving one. When we have such a wonderful niche, why are we so concerned with the release of toxins, improvement of circulation and the numerous other unproven claims? Embrace massage for what it is, an experience that feels amazing!