Evidence Based Massage – “Really”

Evidence based massage – is this how you practice?

Evidence Based Massage

In recent years in the field of massage therapy there is push for scientific evidence to prove the effectiveness of massage from physiological perspective. Massage therapy as you are taught in school is supposed to increase circulation. Does it? Are their studies to back it up? If massage therapy does increase circulation globally then your heart rate would increase and that would be counterproductive to the goal of relaxation.

Ever notice how relaxed most people are after a massage. They even want to go to sleep.
So if there is a lack of evidence to support the benefits of massage scientifically, why do so many people swear by it?

Is it because it is the one place where they can go, turn off their day and enjoy receiving something instead of giving and thinking what has to happen next?


There have been some studies recently that have given hope to the scientific benefits of massage. Take for example the study done at McMaster University in 2012.  “While resting, a massage therapist lightly applied massage oil to both legs, and then performed massage for 10 minutes on one leg using a variety of techniques commonly used in rehabilitation. Muscle biopsies were done on both legs (quadriceps) and repeated 2.5 hours later. Researchers found reduced inflammation in the massaged leg.”

The only thing to keep in mind for this study is that there were only 11 participants in this study. That being said it is a start and great info for those who practice Sport Massage

I think the biggest thing that is taken for granted is the person performing the massage. You can have one person see two different therapists and get two totally different results. No different than having two different clients with the same complaints and you do the same treatment for both and one gets better and the other doesn’t. How does that work?

Evidence Based Massage vs Experience

For many massage therapists who have been practicing for many years, experience plays a part in treatment that is given. It is a shame though that there are people out there discount experience and want the scientific proof of the technique and its effectiveness.

Perhaps we have yet to create the study that proves the validity of that technique or that way of treating. I think we need to keep an open mind to what else is out there and continue to educate ourselves and practice in the trenches.

The way I look at it each day you are in your own “lab”. While research done in a university setting is great, how real world is it?

It is good to be skeptical. It is good to challenge ourselves on the effectiveness of the work we do.

Other studies on evidence based massage.


So do you practice evidence based massage?