My current goal is to promote the value of massage therapy by synthesizing and simplifying noteworthy finds and best available supporting evidence applicable to massage therapy.
Here I have put together a post defining massage therapy as well as an overview outlining potential responses to massage therapy
The Canadian Massage Therapy Alliance defines Massage Therapy as:
"The practice of massage therapy is the assessment of the Musculoskeletal system of the body and the treatment and prevention of physical dysfunction, injury and pain by manipulation, mobilization and other manual methods to develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function, relieve pain or promote health. Massage therapy is a clinically-oriented healthcare option that helps alleviate the Musculoskeletal disorders associated with everyday stress, physical manifestation of mental distress, muscular overuse and many persistent pain syndromes."
Massage Therapy: A Biopsychosocial Framework
A biopsychosocial framework helps put into context the interconnected and multidirectional interaction between: physiology, thoughts, emotions, behaviors, culture, and beliefs. In terms of clinical responses to massage therapy there are a couple of proposed mechanisms of action, including but not limited to:
• Neurodynamics - “A clinical concept that uses movement (1) to assess increased mechanosensitivity of the nervous system; and (2) to restore the altered homeostasis in and around the nervous system.” (Grieve's Modern Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy).
• Neuroplasticity - Touch can help sharpen the image of the self in our body maps.
• Contextually Aided Responses- The way we present ourselves and present our techniques is tied to clinical outcomes, the magnitude of a response may be influenced by mood, expectation, and conditioning.
• Neuromodulation - Massage has an affect on peripheral and central processes - input from large sensory neurons may prevent the spinal cord from amplifying nociceptive signaling.
• Social Touch - Nervous system regulated by touch helps modulate the activity of neural circuits important for maintaining resting state. This reduced physiological and behavioural reactivity to stressors results in improved mood/affect.
• Mechanotherapy - "Any intervention that introduces mechanical forces with the goal of altering molecular pathways and inducing a cellular response that enhances tissue growth, modeling, remodeling, or repair.” (Thompson et al. 2016).
More to Explore
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Bishop, M. D., Torres-Cueco, R., Gay, C. ... Bialosky, J. E. (2015). What effect can manual therapy have on a patient's pain experience? Pain Management. (OPEN ACCESS)
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Boudier-Revéret, M., Gilbert, K.K., Sobczak, S. (2017). Effect of neurodynamic mobilization on fluid dispersion in median nerve at the level of the carpal tunnel: A cadaveric study. Musculoskelet Sci Pract.
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Chen, L., Michalsen, A. (2017). Management of chronic pain using complementary and integrative medicine. BMJ.
Crane, J., Ogborn, D., Cupido, C., Melov, S., Hubbard, A., Bourgeois, J., & Tarnopolsky, M. (2012). Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Science Translational Medicine.
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Fryer, G. (2017). Integrating osteopathic approaches based on biopsychosocial therapeutic mechanisms. Part 1: The mechanisms. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine.
Fryer, G. (2017). Integrating osteopathic approaches based on biopsychosocial therapeutic mechanisms. Part 2: Clinical approach. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine.
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Miller, B.F., Hamilton, K.L., ... Butterfield, T.A., Dupont-Versteegden, E.E. (2018). Enhanced skeletal muscle regrowth and remodelling in massaged and contralateral non-massaged hind limb. J Physiol.
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