In his article, Does Massage Therapy Work? A review of the science of massage therapy: the author Paul Ingraham (previously a Massage professional) shares findings from Massage researcher and psychologist Dr. Christophe that:
“The most evidence-based benefit of massage is: reducing depression and anxiety, as the “only confirmed benefits of massage, being its effects on mood (“affect”), specifically:
1. massage reduces depression; and 2. massage reduces anxiety”
While many benefits of massage are still inconclusive, the article notes “There is an undeniable psychological power of touch.”
Physiological (neurological) effects of massage / touch results from the Skin being so rich in nerve endings. The article suggests that the sensory experience of massage is the major mechanism for pain relief and other therapeutic benefits.
This is something we often talk about in the “birth” world and the experience of “pain” relief… with touch and connection, stimulating the release of oxytocin and endorphin hormones, which are our natural pain relievers.
The relaxation component of massage is: further supported by evidence that massage therapy may reduce blood pressure and helps people to sleep, even when they are under unusual stresses.
We love that this is given some recognition, though look forward to further research in this area, as well as Myotherapy and other evidence based manual therapies, with research still in their infancy.
We have abundant anecdotal evidence to suffice that, shortened (overused) or weakened muscles lead to joint stiffness, decreased range of motion, poor circulation and pain.
Quite simply, there is no mystery that with a trained professional, treatment for such conditions, leads to better muscle function and less pain.