The somewhat uncharted territory of massage research is vast and exciting. I attended a research conference early this year in which ground breaking and important research were presented. Among this was a study led by Dr. Mark Rapaport out of Emory University.
The study uncovers an important piece of information regarding the frequency that massage should be received. Not only do we need to explore the specific effects of specific massage techniques, but we also need to explore the effects of different “doses” of massage. This topic has been gaining interest and last year, the difference between receiving a massage once a week versus twice a week was documented.
The study found that receiving massage long term once a week has additive benefits on boosting immune function. Interestingly, they documented that when you receive massage twice a week the benefits on immune function decrease somewhat, but you gain an even greater effect on increasing Oxytocin (our “feel good” hormone), decreasing Cortisol (our “stress” hormone) and thereby lowering stress and anxiety levels.
As is the case in much of the massage research that has been done, further insight into these topics is necessary before definite conclusions can be drawn. Nevertheless, Dr. Rapaport has demonstrated that there is still so much to know and discover within our field. The future of the profession as a health care modality looks promising, but let us not forget our roots in holistic and alternative practices as we move forward.