Regular massage therapy treatments can help with relaxation, muscle tension and chronic pain.

Used alone or in conjunction with other medical, pharmaceutical or physical modalities, massage therapy can be effective in the treatment of many different conditions: soft tissue injuries and dysfunctions, chronic painful conditions, and many different stressful illnesses. Massage therapy can help to improve relaxation and reduce stress. Infants, seniors, sports enthusiasts, office workers, people of all ages and walks of life can benefit from the healing touch of massage therapy.

Massage therapy encompasses a wide range of different techniques which can affect the circulatory, musculoskeletal, nervous, and respiratory systems, and which form the basis of massage therapy treatment. Hydrotherapy, stretching and strengthening exercises, instruction in proper breathing, and assessment and correction of posture are also tools that massage therapists regularly employ in their treatment protocols.

Areas of treatment

Lower Back Pain

A study by Canadian Michelle Preyde examined 98 adults with sub-acute low back pain. They were divided into four groups. One group received comprehensive massage therapy; one group received soft tissue manipulation only; one group had postural education and remedial exercise only; and one group received a sham treatment. All received 6 half-hour treatments. After treatment the massage therapy group had better function, and less pain than the other groups. A month following treatment 63% of the massage therapy group still reported no pain compared with 27% in the soft tissue manipulation group, 14% in the remedial exercise group and 0% in the sham laser therapy group.

Drs. Cherkin and Eisenberg in the United States published a randomized trial comparing traditional Chinese medical acupuncture, therapeutic massage and self-care education for chronic low back pain. Two hundred and sixty-two patients with persistent back pain were divided into the three groups. The two treatment groups received up to 10 treatments over 10 weeks and at the end of treatment, the massage group had fewer symptoms than the self care group and had better scores on the Roland Disability scale than both the other groups. At the end of a year the massage group still had fewer symptoms than the acupuncture group and the massage group used the least medications and had the lowest costs of health care of the three groups.

Preyde, Michelle. "Effectiveness of massage therapy for subacute low-back pain: a randomized controlled trial", Canadian Medical Association Journal, June 27, 2000; 162 (13), pp.1815-20Cherkin, D.C., Eisenberg, D., Randomized trial comparing traditional Chinese medical acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and self-care education for chronic low back pain., Archives of Internal Medicine (2001) April, 161 (8), pp. 1081-8.

Chronic Pain

When muscles stay tightened over time, the body may develop compensatory, restricted patterns of movement. Fatigue, frustration, lack of energy, mental, and emotional stress may develop from post-traumatic chronic pain and physical restriction.

According to Levoska S., MD [Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Vol. 74, April 1993)]: Deep heat and massage can improve blood circulation and metabolism and thus reduce pain, which can limit maximum isometric force. According to Hagberg, poor blood circulation in a muscle decreases pH and muscle contraction, and reduces muscle strength.

When massage therapists release contracted muscles and reduce pain, they help restore capacity for normal movement. Anxiety and stress lessen as clients increase their level of activity and achieve more control in their daily functioning.

Many people also sleep well after massage; this aids physical and emotional health and helps restore mental equilibrium. As clients begin to feel better with massage, they often discover renewed energy and motivation for physical activity.

General Injuries

Neck pain and headache are the two most common symptoms after injury. Low back pain is a third. Frequently, all result from myofascial damage. Studies by Radanov and colleagues [Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 1993; 37: 1-10 and BMJ, 1993; 307: 652-655] show that post-traumatic headaches left untreated are unlikely to go away on their own. Massage therapy reduces inflammation, increases local circulation, and promotes proper alignment of muscle fibers as they heal. This direct approach can be very successful at relieving headache, neck and low back pain. Early mobilization of the neck has been shown by Mealy [BMJ, 1986; 292: 656-657] to be more effective than rest or a cervical collar in treating whiplash pain. Massage therapy stretches muscle and connective tissue fibers, minimizing scar tissue formation and facilitating pain-free movement.


Massage therapy plays an important role in the rehabilitative process. When fibrous connective tissue is laid down as part of the repair process, contracted muscles receive less oxygen and nutrients, and waste products build up. Abnormal tension in the tissues can increase neurological stimulation leading to a vicious cycle of more tension and pain.

Massage therapists are skilled in techniques that reduce muscle spasm, soften connective tissue and improve circulation. Nerve fibers which were compressed return to normal, and irritable trigger points are de-activated. When muscles and connective tissue are sufficiently softened, massage therapists will incorporate a stretching program for their clients. Strengthening and endurance programs may also be needed to attain full function. Massage therapists refer to a diverse group of health care professionals, and fitness and rehabilitation programs.


Ground-breaking research in 1986 by Tiffancy Field, PhD, showed that premature babies who received massage therapy gained 47% more weight and went home six days earlier than those who did not received massage. The early return home saved the hospital an average of $3000 (US) per infant.

Massage Therapy can:

Soft tissue injury and dysfunction

  • Whiplash
  • sprains and strains
  • sciatica
  • tendinitis
  • muscle spasm
  • torticollis
  • temporomandibular joint disorder
  • thoracic outlet syndrome
  • plantar fasciitis
  • degenerative disc disease
  • Dupuytren's contracture
  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • tension headache

Treat diseases and disorders

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • gout
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Raynaud's disease
  • bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • Parkinson's disease
  • asthma

Relieve pain

  • Low back pain
  • neck pain post-surgical pain
  • cancer
  • fibromyalgia
  • chronic fatigue
  • pregnancy and childbirth
  • bursitis
  • migraines

Improve mental health

  • Stress
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • Hypertension
  • PTSD