It was 17 years ago that the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) created National Massage Therapy Awareness Week. The AMTA is the largest non-profit, serving massage therapists, massage students, and massage schools with more than 56,000 members. Next to the National Institutes of Health, the AMTA is one of, if not the, best resource about massage therapy for licensed massage therapists and clients alike. They strive promote massage to the public and the health care community.
It is because of this goal that this annual event was born. This year’s National Massage Therapy Awareness Week is October 20-26, 2013. This is an educational event that can happen anywhere to help raise awareness about the medical and emotional benefits on massage therapy.
The Medical Benefits of Massage Therapy
In a 2010 study, scientists investigated the physical effects of massage therapy by measuring before and after massages. They discovered that 29 subjects who received 45 minutes of Swedish massage had an immune boosting response when compared to the 24 participants who received 45 minutes of light touch.
The blood tests showed changes indicating a benefit to the immune system, specifically a decrease in arginine vasopressin, a hormone that contributes to aggressive behavior. Scientists also found a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol and increase in lymphocytes; cells that help the immune system defend the body. The astonishing part about this? These results were discovered after only one session of massage therapy.
The American Hospital Association’s Health Forum also found in a survey that 40% of hospitals indicated they offered one or more alternative therapies. Of the hospitals from the survey, 64% reported using massage therapy as part of outpatient care, and 44% as a part of inpatient care.
In the past 12 months, 75% of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving massage was for medical purposes. A majority of 87% found massage therapy to be beneficial to overall health and wellness. In fact, 61% of respondents said that their physician recommended massage therapy as a complementary treatment.
The Emotional Benefits of Massage Therapy
Sure, massage therapy is good for you, but there’s no need to tell you massage therapy feels good. The deep relaxation that occurs when receiving a massage helps clear your mind. Through that, stress and anxiety decreases, circulation and posture improve, and breathing is regulated. Massage therapy helps reconnect your mind and your body. Too often we find ourselves trapped within our own head. When our mind and our body are reconnected, we are more in tune with the limits of our mind and body.
The medical and emotional benefits of massage therapy are too vast to put into one article. However, the goal was to raise awareness about alternative and complementary treatments, like massage and bodywork. If you have further questions about the benefits of massage therapy that might be related to a specific condition, give me a call!