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Massage Therapy—a Valuable Component of a Wellness Program

Wellness includes the elements of enhanced quality of life, and improved physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. A wellness program is a multidisciplinary approach to life. At The Indianapolis Symphony, the Wellness Program has the "Seven Pillars of Wellness" 1) Emotional Wellness 2) Environmental Wellness 3) Intellectual Wellness 4) Occupational Wellness 5) Physical Wellness 6) Social Wellness 7) Spiritual Wellness, encouraging staff and musicians to be mindful of each.

There is much research that validates that massage therapy is an important component of a wellness program:

  • Massage has been shown to increase range of motion and flexibility as well as to improve measures of anxiety, depression, vitality, and perceived stress.

  • It can also increase feelings of wellness, calm, relaxation, and a sense of belonging.

  • In a study of the effect of massage therapy on patients receiving Bone Marrow Transplants (BMT) it was concluded that those who received massage therapy had a better quality of life. These patients rested more easily, had less depression and anxiety and were more able to communicate with loved ones during this crucial treatment.

  • Massage helps overcome the feelings of fatigue.

  • Massage has positive side-effects in addition to those that affect the musculoskeletal system.

  • Massage coupled with aromatherapy and music significantly reduced emergency room nurses’ anxiety levels.

  • Adolescents had an increased sense of well-being after receiving massage.

  • Massage increases a sense of well-being and decreases stress in older adults.

  • Massage reduces nausea in chemotherapy patients.

  • Caregiver[s] reported an improvement in physical and emotional states after chair massage.

  • Massage in combination with mental training (in a stress management program) has a positive effect on women’s health. According to the American Psychological Association:

  • Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.

  • 75 to 90 percent of all physician office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. References

  • Sharpe PA, Williams H., Effects of Massage on Range of Motion and Flexibility among Older Adults. Massage Therapy Journal, 2002, Fall 86-97.

  • Marlaine Smith, R.N., Ph.D.; Francelyn Reeder, R.N., Ph.D.; Linda Daniel, R.N., Ph.D.; Julaluk Baramee, R.N., Ph.D.; and Jan Hagman, R.N. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, January/February 2003, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 40-49.

  • Tim Hideaki Tanaka, Gerry Leisman, Hidetoshi Mori and Kazushi Nishijo. Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2002, Vol. 2, No. 9.

  • Cambron JA, Dexheimer J, Coe P, Swenson R. Side-effects of massage therapy: a cross-sectional study of 100 clients. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Oct; 13(8):793-6 .

  • Cooke M, Holzhauser K, Jones M, Davis C, Finucane J. The effect of aromatherapy massage with music on the stress and anxiety levels of emergency nurses: comparison between summer and winter. J Clin Nurs. 2007 Sep;16(9):1695-703.

  • Haraldsson KS, Lindgren EC, Fridlund BG, Baigi AM, Lydell MC, Marklund BR. Evaluation of a school-based health promotion programme for adolescents aged 12-15 years with focus on well-being related to stress. Public Health. 2008 Jan; 122(1):25-33. Epub 2007 Aug 24.

  • Sharpe PA, Williams HG, Granner ML, Hussey JR. A randomized study of the effects of massage therapy compared to guided relaxation on well-being and stress perception among older adults. Complement Ther Med. 2007 Sep; 15(3):157-63. Epub 2007 Feb 20.

  • Billhult A, Bergbom I, Stener-Victorin E. Massage relieves nausea in women with breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. J Altern Complement Med. 2007 Jan-Feb; 13(1):53-7.

  • Mackereth P, Sylt P, Weinberg A, Campbell G. Chair massage for careers in an acute cancer hospital, Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2005 Jun;9 (2 ):167-79 .

  • Haraldsson K, Fridlund B, Baigi A, Marklund B. The self-reported health condition of women after their participation in a stress management programme: a pilot study. Health Soc Care Community. 2005 May; 13(3):224-30.

  • American Psychological Association. “How does stress affect us?” 2006. APA web site,

  • AMTA Position Statement Adopted 2006. “ It is the position of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) that Massage Therapy can be effective for stress relief.”

  • Seniors in Touch at Weaver's Tale Retreat Center: A Two-Year AMTA Foundation-Funded Project presented at the 2002 AMTA National Convention.

  • Stress is linked to the six leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide.

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has declared stress a hazard of the workplace.

  • It is logical that if stress is decreased, then wellness will increase. Massage has been shown to decrease stress; therefore massage will increase wellness and should be included in everyone’s health management plan. Originally proposed by Retta Flagg & Ann Blair Kennedy

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