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  • Karen Stoner, LMT

4 Myths about Massage Therapy (Part 2)

4 myths about massage therapy (part 2)

1. Massage therapy always involves deep pressure and is painful

FACT: While deep tissue massage is one type of massage that involves firmer pressure, there are many other modalities that use lighter pressure, such as Swedish massage or craniosacral therapy. Massage therapists can adjust the pressure to the client's preference and comfort level.

More details: Massage should not be "no pain, no gain". Deeper pressure is not always the best way to fix issues or achieve relaxation. Every person's tolerance to pain and pressure is different, and not every muscle group responds well to deep pressure, so therap[ists need to be aware of how their pressure is affecting their clients and how the muscles are reacting, and most importantly, how the client feels. If a client says the pressure is too much, the therapist should ease off or change techniques. Pain is not the point of massage. There are many massage modalities that involve lighter touch including lymphatic drainage, myofascial work, and more that are just as effective, if not more, than deep heavy, painful pressure.

4 myths about massage therapy (part 2)

2. Massage has no scientific medical proof it is effective

FACT: There have been many scientific studies done on the effectiveness and benefits of multiple modalities of massage therapy for many different medical conditions, both physical and mental.

More details: There is a wealth of scientific research supporting the benefits of massage therapy. Here are a few notable studies and references:

  1. Field, T. (2014). Massage therapy research review. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 20(4), 224-229. This comprehensive review by Tiffany Field, a leading expert in touch research, provides an overview of numerous studies highlighting the therapeutic effects of massage therapy, including its impact on pain relief, stress reduction, and improvement in various medical conditions.

  2. Moyer, C. A., Rounds, J., & Hannum, J. W. (2004). A meta-analysis of massage therapy research. Psychological Bulletin, 130(1), 3-18. This meta-analysis examines the efficacy of massage therapy across a range of health conditions, finding significant positive effects on reducing anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, among other outcomes.

  3. Crawford, C., Boyd, C., Paat, C. F., Price, A., Xenakis, L., & Yang, E. (2016). The impact of massage therapy on function in pain populations—A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials: Part I, patients experiencing pain in the general population. Pain Medicine, 17(7), 1353-1375. This systematic review and meta-analysis focus specifically on the effects of massage therapy on pain relief and functional outcomes, consolidating evidence from randomized controlled trials across various pain conditions.

  4. Rapaport, M. H., Schettler, P., & Larson, E. R. (2016). Massage therapy for psychiatric disorders. Focus, 14(3), 282-291. This review explores the potential of massage therapy as an adjunctive treatment for psychiatric disorders, discussing its impact on reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and improving overall well-being.

  5. Hou, W. H., Chiang, P. T., Hsu, T. Y., Chiu, S. Y., & Yen, Y. C. (2010). Treatment effects of massage therapy in depressed people: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71(7), 894-901. This meta-analysis investigates the therapeutic effects of massage therapy specifically in individuals with depression, suggesting significant reductions in depressive symptoms following massage interventions.

These references provide a glimpse into the extensive body of research supporting the diverse benefits of massage therapy for both physical and mental health.

4 myths about massage therapy (part 2)

3. Massage therapy is not effective for chronic pain

FACT: Massage therapy can be an effective complementary treatment for chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and low back pain. It can help reduce pain, improve range of motion, and enhance quality of life for many individuals.

More details: Massage is not a substitute for medical care or medicine if needed, but it can help as an addition to ongoing treatments to help relieve the symptoms of chronic pain, as well as helping reduce or eliminate pain during flare-ups helping the body manage the pain and fell better longer.

4 myths about massage therapy (part 2)

4. Massage Therapy is all a front for sexual services

FACT: Massage therapists are medical professionals, not prostitutes. Licensed therapists spend hundreds of hours training in anatomy, physiology, and more to be tested and regulated by states as health care professionals. Unfortunately society enjoys showcasing massage as purely sexual in nature which degrades the profession and endangers therapists.

More details: Every sitcom I've ever seen has at least one episode with a massage and in nearly every instance, the premise around the massage is something sexual that is then turned into a joke. Additionally, the media glamorizes and gives "hero status" to sports stars and celebrities who are caught soliciting prostitutes who are labeled as "massage therapists". Sadly, this shock value shows little chance of going away, which presents a huge problem for the massage therapy profession. The mainstream media sexualization of massage means that massage therapists are frequently targets of inappropriate requests, and clients who will go as far as verbally or physically attacking therapists if they aren't given "what they want". Professional massage therapists actually have as much training and education as some nurses and doctors, and in many states, massage is regulated through nursing boards. Sadly, until mainstream media changes their tune and stops using a medical institution as a punchline with shock value, massage therapists have to constantly fight to prove their legitimate value.

4 myths about massage therapy (part 2)

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