Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy Training Meets Mental Health: What the Latest Research Tells Us

August 03, 2018

person getting a back massage

Massage therapy has long been a recognized recourse for pain relief and rehabilitation, relieving muscular tension and enhancing relaxation. Beyond these physical benefits, professional massages are increasingly viewed in a mental health context. A possible supplement for medical and psychological treatments, massage therapy may help with everything from reducing stress hormones to enhancing sleep quality.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association, 88 per cent of people perceive a mental health benefit to massage therapy. New research is bearing out this perception, and detailing how professional massage training might have a positive impact on client mental health.

Are you curious to know how massage therapy training may yield mental health benefits? Keep reading to find out more.

Massage Therapy Helps with Anxiety and Depression

In 2013, 11.6 per cent of Canadians over the age of 18 reported having a mood or anxiety disorder. Among those, 93 per cent reported taking prescription medications and 20 per cent said they received counselling services. Complementing these forms of treatment, massage therapy has been shown to stimulate the production of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins—the neurotransmitters behind feelings of happiness.

Research by the University of Miami School of Medicine has found that massages increase serotonin and dopamine levels by up to 30 per cent. This same research also proves that massages help reduce cortisol, the hormone associated with stress. For students in massage therapy training, these findings point to an emerging focus on the biochemical properties of massages—especially as they complement established treatments for anxiety and depression.

Massage Therapy Training Can Improve Overall Wellness

Massages may also benefit the overall mental health of clients with no defined conditions like anxiety and depression. For many clients, massage therapy produces feelings of pain relief and relaxation, alleviating the mental strain that often accompanies physical ailments. Massage therapists can thus help clients achieve a state of wellness and relaxation—and remove physical barriers to quality rest or sleep, an important component for sound mental health.

Massage therapists can also help lower the toll that stress takes on the body, especially with high levels of blood pressure. According to research by the University of South Florida, back massages help decrease levels of hypertension for up to two days after treatment. While massage therapies cannot replace traditional treatment in this area, they may play a critical role in helping clients achieve overall wellness in body and mind.

Massages May Benefit Mental Health Alongside Chronic Illness After massage therapy school, graduates may also provide relief to clients in long-term care. Massage therapy has been shown to help with the mental repercussions of chronic illness and their treatments. According to research by the University of Miami, massages helped decrease levels of stress, anger, and other mood factors in clients with AIDS. Massaged clients also exhibited lower levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter associated with depression.

Massage has also proven helpful for children with cancer. According to research by the Columbia University Medical Center, massage therapy can help mitigate the side effects of cancer treatment – from anxiety and depression to reduced immune function and high blood pressure. For this reason, doctors and physicians sometimes prescribe massage therapy alongside medical treatments, helping clients feel the utmost possible wellness and relaxation.

Are you hoping for a rewarding career helping clients achieve wellness?

Contact Medix College to know more about our massage therapy courses.

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