This is a tricky question with no straightforward answer. No, massage cannot
replace pills or surgery that provide an “instant fix”. Massage cannot guard against the
effect of substance abuse (smoking/drinking/etc), lack of exercise and poor nutrition.
These daily habits have a large impact on mental and physical health that will eventually
lead to major health issues and complications if not properly maintained. However, over
time massage can help to reduce the impact of unhealthy habits, repetitive motion on the
physical body and help to reduce daily stress on the mental and emotional body. In this
sense massage is a long-term healthcare investment and may help to lower healthcare
costs in the long run by decreasing the need for surgery and/or medication.
In this fashion massage is a preventative health care measure as it helps to
increase mind-body awareness and keep the effects of mental and physical stress at bay.
Regular massage is effective in preventing injury, and providing physical maintenance to
fascial, muscle and connective tissues patterns (Moyer, Rounds, & Hannum, 2004). This
may help decrease soreness in muscles, increase range of motion in joints and promotes
healing after injury or surgery. Nerve compression may be alleviated and relieving acute
or chronic pain, decreasing the need for painful injections, painkillers and future
surgeries. As muscles become suppler over time there circulation may increase, lowering
blood pressure and increasing in the production of endorphins, such as dopamine and
serotonin that are responsible for mood elevation. If the client were to follow a regular
massage therapy treatment plan, or incorporate it into their wellness plan, they could
possibly see a reduction in the cost of talk therapy or money spent on medication.
As we become more aware of our bodies and how we use them we may be able to
indentify problems and address the underlying issues before they become full blown
injuries. The same can be said for an individual’s mental state; if we continue to live
within a reoccurring stress cycle eventually we reach a breaking point. Massage has been
shown to decrease pain cycles, depression, anxiety and improved sleep patterns (Moyer,
Rounds, & Hannum, 2004). As conditions such as these improve the individual may have
time and space for insight regarding destructive or negative habits. In this way massage
may save time and money when utilized as a maintenance tool decreasing the likelihood
of mental or physical problems from occurring and promoting over all good health.
Moyer, C. A., Rounds, J., & Hannum, J. W. (2004). A Meta-Analysis of Massage
Therapy Research. Psychological Bulletin, 130(1), 3-18.