There was a study done and released earlier this year about massage and inflammation. They hypothesis was that a body massage would reduce inflammation and the study claimed that Yes, indeed, massage reduces inflammation. Great for massage therapy, right? Not so fast.
Inflammation is our body saying “uhho, you’ve injured yourself and you best sit down and rest.” It’s a complex biological reaction which happens when our bodies naturally ability to work at an optimum level is interrupted by chronic or acute pain, illness or injury. While the pain, illness or injury may be limiting, it is indeed the inflammation that is good as it is a good communicator to you that it’s as said above is time for rest.” Enter massage therapy.
Many people think of getting a massage to relieve the pain of an injury and have symptoms of inflammation. So, a study that proves that inflammation is helped by massage would be wonderful. The problem is that the study was poorly designed. The first, and in my humble opinion, the biggest problem is that the sample was too small. You can read the abstract here if you want the scientific low down on the study. Your therapist needs to be in the know when it comes to studies like this and be educated enough to understand the limitations of this study.
Now, I’m not saying that massage therapy for inflammation is not without merit. There are several things it will help with. The least, ok, the most, of which is providing a natural relaxation response within the body. Thus, the pain will be decreased which may have led to the inflammation.
Too, aromatherapy massage using essential oils that have anti-inflammatory qualities in them WILL reduce the inflammation. Is this because of the massage? No. It’s because of the essential oils. Only trained therapists in the properties and applications or essential oils will know which oils to use within a massage.
Yes, massage may help inflammation. An improved study needs to be performed to evaluate this. Of course, massage WILL help with pain reduction and increased relaxation and that may have a secondary effect on decreasing inflammation. Essential oils used within a massage WILL help decrease essential oils.
Your trained and educated therapist who keeps up with current studies and has continuing education credits in the use of essential oils can be your guide when it comes to pain management and inflammation. Have you ever received a massage with an injury that has inflammation? How did you feel afterward?