As an evidence based practice, we pride ourselves on delivering upon what is scientifically known to be the most effective use of massage therapy. Nothing more and nothing less. We know for instance, from a collaborative meta-analysis of research on massage therapy for pain conducted by the Samueli Institute that was recently published as a three-part series in the Journal of Pain Science, that massage therapy can provide significant improvement for pain, anxiety and health-related quality of life for those looking to manage their pain. Massage can also have MANY other healthy benefits.
If you are going to get a massage because you read or heard that it will help remove toxins from your body and reduce cellulite, I can assure you that not only are you misinformed, but your therapist who agrees to provide such a mystical outcome is woefully misinformed and selling you snake oil.
The fact of the matter is that massage is not the only profession that either has to overcome myths about what it can effectively do, or has professionals who make false claims or continue to rely on outdated research that feed into the lies.
Let’s take something as prevalent as Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, this is a wide spread disease in our society and for so many, it can make day to day lifestyle choices frightening. Conventional treatment of this disease is medication to control your blood glucose levels. Over 90% of doctors with patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes immediately prescribe this as a primary form of treatment. It makes sense, right? You want to keep your blood sugar in an optimal range, this pill will help do that. Simple. Well in a recent study, Dr. Victor Montori, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn asked “Does controlling your sugars reduce the risk of complications?” and the answer was that most of the evidence points to “NO!”
“Over 90 per cent of experts were saying that controlling blood sugars tightly was associated with a reduction in your risk of going blind or of needing dialysis or having to undergo an amputation,” Montori said. “But when we looked at the evidence for that, we could not see any signal that would suggest that is true despite the question being asked at least since the 1970s.”- Dr. Victor Montori
My point here is not to stir controversy over the treatment of Type 2 diabetes, but rather to make the point that whether it’s something as simple as a goal for your massage visit or something more pressing to our personal health like diabetes, we should all know what to expect as a realistic outcome for the treatment being delivered. Now I’m certain that a quick search of PubMed will yield plenty of studies showing the effectiveness of medications for reducing blood sugars, but how many of them will go on to claim that by reducing your blood sugars you are ALSO effectively reducing all the risks associated with Diabetes that you are supposed to be taking these pills for? The same should be said for something as simple as your massage program. If you desired goal is to reduce pain and reduce stress and lower your blood pressure, then GREAT! Come on in and speak with your therapist and we can provide that! However, if you’re looking for a massage that will remove toxins from your body or will even reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, then I say buyer beware. And if you have a fear of getting a massage because you have cancer and massage will spread the cancer cells or perhaps you are pregnant and don’t want to risk your therapist inducing early labor, then you are missing out on a wonderful treatment that science has proven to help ease the pain associated with cancer treatments as well as the relief so many women feel from getting regular massages throughout their pregnancies.