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Massage and Health: Medical Literature Abounds

Massage in the Medical Research Literature - a Long History
Massage is relaxing, but even more important, it is a therapy. In fact, medical research describes the therapeutic effect massage has on the muscles or ‘soft tissue’ of the body. Medline, the database managed by the National Library of Medicine for health practitioners worldwide, currently lists 9,315 articles (in professional journals) addressing massage therapy! At PubMedCentral, you can get free copies of 380 of these.

A factoid or two: of the 380 free artlcles, the earliest was published in 1919, illustrating the fact that research about massage therapy’s usefulness is long lived! This article was actually a review of a book for physicians on manual therapies. In 1994, the British Journal of Sports Medicine published “
Massage--the scientific basis of an ancient art” as a two part article, while the Archives of Disease in Childhood - Fetal Neonatal Edition published an article called “Massage in pre-term infants”. This is the first incidence of multiple articles with massage in the title being published in a single year (based on evaluation of this collection medical literature). And now to the present: in 2009 and year to date in 2010, 75 articles pertain to massage therapy.

One last factoid: 269 of these articles use the word ‘massage’ in the title. Here are typical examples:
  • Effectiveness of focused structural massage and relaxation massage for chronic low back pain: protocol for a randomized controlled trial

  • Changes in Psychological Parameters in Patients with Tension-type Headache Following Massage Therapy: A Pilot Study

  • Randomized Trial of Therapeutic Massage for Chronic Neck Pain

  • Massage Therapy vs. Simple Touch to Improve Pain and Mood in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Trial