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Recent Findings from AMTA

A growing body of evidence shows that massage therapy can be effective for a variety of health conditions. Massage is rapidly becoming recognized as an important part of health and wellness, and research is indicating some of what takes place in the body during massage therapy.

Here are some recent findings on the benefits of massage therapy compiled by the American Massage Therapy Association.

Massage Therapy for the Pain of Osteoarthritis of the Knee

Massage Therapy for Knee PainResearch supported by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) showed that sixty minute sessions of Swedish massage once a week for those with osteoarthritis of the knee significantly reduced their pain. Each massage therapy session followed a specific protocol, including the nature of massage strokes. This is the latest published research study indicating the benefits of massage therapy for those with osteoarthritis of the knee.

•    The study involved a total group of 125 subjects, with 25 receiving the 60-minute massage over 8 weeks, while others received less massage or usual care without massage.
•    Previous studies on massage for the pain of osteoarthritis of the knee showed similar results, but were on a more limited number of subjects.

Perlman A, Ali A, Njike VY, et al. Massage therapy for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized dose-finding trial. PLoS One. 2012; 7(2):e30248.

Massage Therapy for Inflammation After Exercise

Massage Therapy for Inflammation After ExerciseResearch through the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario indicates that massage therapy reduces inflammation of skeletal muscle acutely damaged through exercise. The study provides evidence for the benefits of massage therapy for those with musculoskeletal injuries and potentially for those with inflammatory disease, according to the lead author of the research.

•    The study found evidence at the cellular level that massage therapy may affect inflammation in a way similar to anti-inflammatory medications.
•    The researchers “found that massage activated the mechanotransduction signaling pathways focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and extracellular signal–regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), potentiated mitochondrial biogenesis signaling [nuclear peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α)], and mitigated the rise in nuclear factor κB (NFκB) (p65) nuclear accumulation caused by exercise-induced muscle trauma.”

J. D. Crane, D. I. Ogborn, C. Cupido, S. Melov, A. Hubbard, J. M. Bourgeois, M. A. Tarnopolsky, Massage Therapy Attenuates Inflammatory Signaling After Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Sci. Transl. Med. 4, 119ra13 (2012).

Massage Therapy for Chronic Low-Back Pain

Massage Therapy for Chronic Low-Back PainResearch released in July 2011 expanded on previous studies demonstrating the effectiveness of massage therapy for chronic low back pain. Researchers found that “patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvements in both their pain and function”. The study was conducted over 10 weeks through Group Health Research Institute.

•    Participants had a 60-minute massage once a week for 10 weeks.
•    Massage patients also said they reduced the amount of over the counter anti-inflammatory medications they took.
•    The study compared both relaxation massage and “structural massage” therapy and found no difference in the results from the type of massage given.

Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, Erro J, Delaney K, Deyo RA. A comparison of the effects of 2 types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial.
Ann Intern Med. 2011 Jul 5;155(1):1-9.

Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Massage Therapy for FibromyalgiaFibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome characterized by generalized pain, joint rigidity, intense fatigue, sleep alterations, headache, spastic colon, craniomandibular dysfunction, anxiety, and depression. This study demonstrated that massage-myofascial release techniques improved pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia.

•    The study found reductions in sensitivity to pain at tender points in patients with fibromyalgia.
•    Patients in the massage group received 90-minute massage for 20 weeks.
•    Immediately after treatment and one month after the massage program, anxiety levels, quality of sleep, pain and quality of life were still improved.

Castro-Sánchez, A.M., Matarán-Peñarrocha, G.A., Granero-Molina, J., Aguilera-Manrique, G., Quesada-Rubio, J.M., Moreno-Lorenzo, C. (2011). Benefits of massage-myofascial release therapy on pain, anxiety, quality of sleep, depression, and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011:561753.


January 2012 Message


Massage Therapy Wellness StrategyWe will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them
ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day.
~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Happy New Year everyone. I would like the first entry in my book of opportunity to
include a chapter on gratitude. I have taken a recent inventory of all that I consider
important: family/friends, health/fitness, and business, and I am happy to report that all
are thriving. The latter has been greatly influenced by my association with Pete and
Jeanne Snell, the owners of Fleet Feet SportsTucson. I want to thank all of my clients
for their continued support and referrals. A word-of-mouth acknowledgement is a great

In the list of popular New Year's resolutions, getting fit is close to the top. There are
hundreds of articles touting the benefits, both mental and physical, of adopting a fitness
program. Whether you are a walker, training for an Ironman, or anywhere in between,
your body and mind can benefit from massage.

As it is the beginning of a new year, I invite you to read the following article on how
massage can enhance your wellness and fitness goals.

Be happy,


Massage Therapy ~ Your Wellness Strategy

By Nora Brunner

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Autumn/Winter 2010. Copyright 2010.
Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.

Advertisers and investment professionals are telling me the secret to improving my life  is to give up my gourmet coffee. One pitch says if I sacrifice a daily $2.50 latte, I will have a king's ransom in a year's time. With so many people suggesting this approach for reallocating dollars, I'm starting to feel a little sorry for the coffee people. Still, the budget gurus have a point: We sometimes fritter away time and money because we aren't making conscious choices. Here are examples of how some people have made massage a conscious choice in their lives, forsaking the latte, if necessary.

For some people, massage and bodywork are a critical part of their health and wellness strategy--an idea medical professionals are increasingly embracing. In a recent online  survey, massage devotees talked about their commitment to regular massage therapy. These folks find a way to afford it, regardless of other demands on their resources.

Best Life

"Getting massage has been part of my life since I was in my 20s--I'm now in my 50s," says Los Angeles chef Gisele Perez. Once a modern dancer and now proprietor of a boutique catering company, she considers massage necessary to the career she loves. She finds massage helps resolve problems she's grappling with and that solutions arise spontaneously in her thoughts while she's on the table. "I think it maintains my emotional balance," she says. Many massage clients report cathartic experiences when they finally allow themselves to fully relax. With so much of our lives devoted to what one spiritual guru calls "efforting," it's nice to know that letting go of it all can be just as productive, perhaps even more so.

Author Tricia Greaves of Los Angeles set a goal to have weekly massage and has followed through with it for four years. "I don't spend a lot of money on myself in general, but massage is vital to my emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being," she says. "When I'm through with a massage, I feel like everything is fine, everything will work out, and the spinning world does not rest on my shoulders."

Some have come to massage because of injuries and found unexpected blessings in their situations. While many first-time massage clients have become acquainted with massage because of referrals from health professionals, there's no need to wait for an injury to prompt you into forming the massage habit.

"I consider professional massage therapy an essential part of my best-life design," says author and psychologist Mollie Marti, who suffered a whiplash injury several years ago in a car accident. "It's been worth every penny," she says of the work that has improved her range of motion and relieved muscle soreness, as well as offered deep relaxation, greater alertness and clarity, and a heightened sense of well-being. "I feel better and am happier and more at peace."

Professional athletes also use massage strategically before events to help them achieve their best. Research also shows muscles recover more quickly after a workout. For weekend warriors, a massage can help recovery, or also serve as a reward for sticking with an exercise program. That's doubling the return on your investment.

Research shows the cost of a massage has remained fairly steady in recent years, even as other popular pastimes have become more expensive. "Affording it" is a matter of priorities, or at least that's the way 22-year-old Elizabeth Sosa Bailey sees it. She calls her modest Houston public radio station salary "practically a sneeze," yet she manages to get a monthly massage. "My first massage was only 30 minutes, but I fell in love," she says. "It's worth it because it makes me happy."

Being happy is only part of it, since studies show an ever-increasing number of health benefits massage affords. This is an instance where the pillars of intelligently managing your health--prevention and early intervention--come into focus.

Medical Odyssey

If only math instructor Michelle Wehrwein of Frisco, Texas, had done things in reverse order. She reports that a pain in the upper part of her left buttock became so unmanageable she could not sleep or work. After an odyssey through 10 doctors, acupuncture, MRIs, pain pills, physical therapy, and surgery, a friend suggested she try massage. "It was honestly an act of God," she says. "When I left the session, I had no pain at all." Her massage therapist and new doctor finally concluded she had fibers under the skin's surface that were tightening around a muscle, restricting her blood flow. Massage eased the condition. Despite the impact of her medical treatments on her finances, she is committed to the pain relief afforded by massage.

Attorney J. Kim Wright of Taos, New Mexico, stressed out over the constant demands on her time after founding a law practice 15 years ago. Those pressures, combined with having a large family at home, soon led to margaritas at a local watering hole with her staff every Friday after work. When coworkers started discussing an additional drinking night on Wednesdays, she got worried about the path she was on. A colleague recommended massage. She scheduled weekly massage appointments, a resource that also helped her cope with a divorce when her life changed direction. The sessions stretched her budget, but became her lifeline, she reports, adding that she often broke into tears the minute she walked through the door for her massage session. "It was the outlet I needed," Wright says.

And whose careers and lives aren't stressful these days? Even when we are doing jobs we love, there's a stress factor in being challenged. It's positive stress, but it sets off the chemicals in our bodies that help us function at our best. If we're not happy in our work, it's so much the worse on our health and well-being. Christine Stump used to work as a full-time paramedic and continues in a part-time capacity after adding yoga teacher to her career. Massage is how she maintains her emotional balance and avoids injuries that have disabled her coworkers in the "adrenaline-soaked world of emergency services," she says. "I process my experiences with greater ease," Stump says. "My monthly massage is a tremendous reset button."

A Self-Care Experience

Author and teacher Charlie Adler of Washington, D.C., has been getting regular massage for 10 years, admitting that perhaps he enjoys his job a little too much. Adler is a full-time instructor in wine and cooking and can't help but enjoy the fruits of his--and his students'--labor. Committed to holistic medicine, he says: "Massage is disease prevention for me. It seems wrong to me to wait until you get sick to go to a doctor." The 47-year-old reports he often falls asleep in the middle of his session.

"As a ranked expenditure, massage is up very high," he says. "It has a higher importance than going out to eat and cable TV I rank massage equivalent with faith or religion, or maybe as one component of my belief system. I have missed massage for as long as three weeks just once in 10 years," he says.

Former ballet dancer Luis Perez of Miami, Florida, has been getting massage twice that long. With 20 years of twice-weekly massage, he works in health and fitness, putting his money where his mouth is. "I have given myself permission to make myself a priority," Perez says. "Sometimes I use the time to think and reflect and other times I simply 'check out' and allow my battery to recharge. I believe strongly that massage is an integral part of who I am and where I am today."

Frankie Picasso first found massage after a motorcycle accident, spending five and a half months in the hospital because of broken bones. Now a writer toiling away at a keyboard, as well as working as a pain coach, she was also in the middle of a divorce and other life issues when the accident happened. A nurse ordered thrice-weekly massage and it reduced her need for prescription drugs by half. "I think everyone can benefit from massage," she says.

Many people make massage a priority, and you may well be one of them. Know that you have chosen something with real value that benefits your health--both in body and mind.


New Massage StudioNew Studio - Note from Melissa

It is hard to believe it has been nearly three months since I first opened my massage studio.  The learning curve as a new business owner is very large and I appreciate any and all feedback from my clients.  I strive to make your experience at Balanced Bodies an enjoyable, therapeutic experience.

I wish to thank my clients for their continued support and patronage.  I love what I do, and I hope that comes through in every session, with every person I see.  Word of mouth is the best way for me to grow my business, and I truly appreciate all the referrals.

Phrase of the month:  Motion is Lotion.  Get up and move!

Be kind to yourself,



Your Body's Biggest Enemy

The dangers of living a sedentary life: Learn how to ward off the nasty effects of a new epidemic called Sitting Disease

The article by Selene Yeager can be found in Womenʼs Health Magazine on line at

You might not want to take the following stat sitting down: According to a poll of nearly 6,300 people by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health, it's likely that you spend a stunning 56 hours a week planted like a geranium—staring at your computer screen, working the steering wheel, or collapsed in a heap in front of your high-def TV. And it turns out women may be more sedentary than men, since they tend to play fewer sports and hold less active jobs.

Even if you think you are energetic, sitting all day at work is common for most of us. And it's killing us—literally—by way of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. All this downtime is so unhealthy that it's given birth to a new area of medical study called inactivity physiology, which explores the effects of our increasingly butt-bound, tech-driven lives, as well as a deadly new epidemic researchers have dubbed "sitting disease."

The Modern-Day Desk Sentence
"Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to do one thing: move," says James Levine,M.D., Ph.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and author of Move a Little, Lose a Lot. "As human beings, we evolved to stand upright. For thousands of generations, our environment demanded nearly constant physical activity."

Sedentary Dangers 1But thanks to technological advances, the Internet, and an increasingly longer work week, that environment has disappeared. "Electronic living has all but sapped every flicker of activity from our daily lives," Levine says. You can shop, pay bills, make a living, and with Twitter and Facebook, even catch up with friends without so much as standing up. And the consequences of all that easy living are profound.

When you sit for an extended period of time, your body starts to shut down at the metabolic level, says Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., associate professor of biomedical sciences at the University of Missouri. When muscles—especially the big ones meant for movement, like those in your legs—are immobile, your circulation slows and you burn fewer calories. Key flab-burning enzymes responsible for breaking down triglycerides (a type of fat) simply start switching off. Sit for a full day and those fat burners plummet by 50 percent, Levine says.

That's not all. The less you move, the less blood sugar your body uses; research shows that for every two hours spent on your backside per day, your chance of contracting diabetes goes up by 7 percent. Your risk for heart disease goes up, too, because enzymes that keep blood fats in check are inactive. You're also more prone to depression: With less blood flow, fewer feel-good hormones are circulating to your brain.

Sitting too much is also hell on your posture and spine health, says Douglas Lentz, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and the director of fitness and wellness for Summit Health in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. "When you sit all day, your hip flexors and hamstrings shorten and tighten, while the muscles that support your spine become weak and stiff," he says. It's no wonder that the incidence of chronic lower-back pain among women has increased threefold since the early 1990s.

And even if you exercise, you're not immune. Consider this: We've become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not do enough to counteract the detrimental effects of eight, nine, or 10 hours of sitting, says Genevieve Healy, Ph.D., a research fellow at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre of the University of Queensland in Australia. That's one big reason so many women still struggle with weight, blood sugar, and cholesterol woes despite keeping consistent workout routines.

In a recent study, Healy and her colleagues found that regardless of how much moderate to vigorous exercise participants did, those who took more breaks from sitting throughout the day had slimmer waists, lower BMIs (body mass indexes), and healthier blood fat and blood sugar levels than those who sat the most. In an extensive study of 17,000 people, Canadian researchers drew an even more succinct conclusion: The longer you spend sitting each day, the more likely you are to die an early death—no matter how fit you are.

The Non-Exercise Answer
So if exercise alone isn't the solution, what is? Fortunately, it's easier than you think to ward off the perils of prolonged parking. Just ramp up your daily non-exercise activity thermogenesis—or NEAT. That's the energy (i.e., calories) you burn doing everything but exercise. It's having sex, folding laundry, tapping your toes, and simply standing up. And it can be the difference between wearing a sarong or flaunting your bikini on your next beach vacation.

Sedentary Dangers 2In his groundbreaking study on NEAT, the Mayo Clinic's Levine used motion-sensing underwear (hot, huh?) to track every single step and fidget of 20 people who weren't regular exercisers (half of them were obese; half were not). After 10 days, he found that the lean participants moved an average of 150 minutes more per day than the overweight people did—enough to burn 350 calories, or about one cheeseburger.

Fidgeting, standing, and puttering may even keep you off medications and out of the doctor's office. Think of your body as a computer: As long as you're moving the mouse and tapping the keys, all systems are go. But let it idle for a few minutes, and the machine goes into power-conservation mode. Your body is meant to be active, so when you sit and do nothing for too long, it shuts down and burns less energy. Getting consistent activity throughout the day keeps your metabolism humming along in high gear.

When you get out of your chair and start moving around, you turn on fat burners. Simply standing up fries three times as many calories as sitting on your butt, according to Levine. And, he adds, "NEAT activity can improve blood flow and increase the amount of serotonin available to the brain, so that your thinking becomes sharper and you'll be less likely to feel depressed."

Get Your Move On
Shake things up throughout the day by interrupting your sedentary stints as often as possible. "Stand up every half hour," says Neville Owen, Ph.D., of the University of Queensland. "If you have to sit for longer than that, take more extended and active breaks and move around for a few minutes before sitting back down."

When you're reading e-mail and taking phone calls, do it standing. Walk with colleagues to brainstorm ideas. And consider trading your chair for a large stability ball. "It forces you to engage your muscles, and you're likely to stand up more because you're not melting into a chair," Lentz says.

At home, it's simple: Limit TV time to two hours a day or less. Better yet, watch it from a treadmill or exercise bike. Among women, the risk for metabolic syndrome—a constellation of health woes including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar—shoots up 26 percent for every hour per day they spend watching the tube.

Not sure how much of a difference these mini moves will make? Check out the chart below. Swapping a more active approach for just a few of your daily activities can help stave off the one-to two-pound weight gain most women accumulate every year—and it can keep your metabolism buzzing the way nature intended it to.


Massage Therapy 101

This article contains excerpts from a very useful resource,

Massage treatments aim to:


Develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function - Massage therapy has become a staple of many professional athletes' training regimens. But not just athletes. Lifestyle factors, such as long work hours or physically taxing tasks, lead many members of the workforce to seek the assistance of a massage therapist. A seemingly minor injury can have a profound impact on a person's ability to stay physically active, participate fully in life, or even make a living if it becomes chronic. Massage therapy can be one of the ways of preventing that kind of outcome.

Relieve or prevent physical dysfunction and pain - Some massage therapy techniques are specifically recommended for sore muscle tissues. An overly sore muscle cannot function properly. By alleviating or preventing pain, dysfunction can be combated.

Relax tight and tense muscles - Many people don't realize how much a tight muscle impacts on vital things such as posture. A tense muscle can throw off your body's balance. Before long, muscles that were not initially tight begin to tense as they compensate for other parts of the body. It becomes a chain reaction that can spread far from the initial problem spot. A talented massage therapist can identify the source of the problem and start working to alleviate the problem where it started.

Improve circulation, recovery time and immune system function - The movements of massage cause blood to flush in and out of muscles and joints. This flushing process - enhancing circulation in the affected areas - can, in some cases, aid recovery time from injuries.

Reduce overall stress - We're all becoming more aware of the role stress plays in health. People who are stressed, all other things being equal, are less healthy than people who are relaxed. Stress, for example, increases the risk of heart disease. Massage therapy is an effective and enjoyable way to reduce stress.


Massage therapy is also effective in the control of pain, chronic or acute, in stress reduction, and in creating a sense of relaxation and well-being. A licensed, skilled practitioner can become an important and integral part of your health care team.