Student Work: Research on "Massage Increases Circulation" by Ashton Bryant

Michelle Burns
October 19, 2015

During the course of attending massage school at A New Beginning School of Massage, students are given a number of assignments that requiring research and writing. Some of these assignments result in very insightful and  well thought out information and  decision-making outcomes. I am happy to share some of their assignments for you to enjoy.

There are several types of research to use when dealing with the profession of massage. these types include a case study, a case series involving one or more cases, cohort studies where the same procedure is applied to a number of people and the result is analyzed, randomized control study involving a control group, and meta-analysis which looks at all studies of one procedure or topic and involves a wide range of persons that have been studied.

In my opinion, all of these are valid research options, however, meta-analysis seems to be too general for me to align with. I believe massage to be a creative endeavor. Each session of various massage is built to suit a wide array of unique bodies and their specific conditions in a physical, emotion, psychological and biological way.

Research regarding massage is important, especially as a learning mechanism and tool that we can use to further evolve our practices and our understanding of the human body and its conditions. research can reveal methods and procedures that work on a scientific level and those that are comforting and simply feel good to a person. Using this information, we can hone and refine our mechanics and techniques for optimal effects of healing and to improve quality of life of our clients. When deciding whether or not a piece of research is valid, it is helpful to see where it has been published (i.e. in a recognized medical, collegiate, or scientific database, who it was published or conducted by, if it involves a study, and the level of scholar the author(s) hold. Also, one can determine whether or not the information has been peer reviewed.

drawing of heartI would like to discuss some findings on the research regarding the effects that massage has on the general circulation of the body. In an article titled "The Scientific Basis of an Ancient Art: Part 2," studies have shown that gentle massage increases the rate of blood flow by dilating superficial blood vessels, and, in the case of deeper work, even the cardiac stroke volume shows to increase reflecting in an improvement in venous return. the author states that "when massage is applied to one limb, blood flow increases in the other" which can allow for indirect massage of sensitive and injured tissue. This increase in blood flow (after deep work) can last approximately one hour following the session and promotes healing in muscles and tissue.

In other studies, such as the preliminary studies of Swedish massage on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal   paths and immune function in normal individuals, data has led to the conclusion that a single massage session can increase the amount of NK (Natural Killer) cells and lymphocytes circulating in the body. Data findings of this study, if replicated, might bring about more knowledge on managing inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

These research findings support the discussion topic in that the studies did report slight changes in the circulation of the bodies studied.

I take this research and place it in a positive light, seeing as I am aiming to aid in the healing and well-being of my clients. I am encouraged by these kinds of things, knowing that what I am doing actually and really does make a difference.


Geoffry C. Goats. "Massage--the Scientific Basis of an Ancient Art: Part 2, Physiological and Therapeutic Effects," British Journal of Sports Medicine, 1994; 28:p153-156 doi:10.1136/bjsm.28.3153

Mark Hyman Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, Catherine Brebee. "A Preliminary Study of the Effects of a Single Session of Swedish Massage on Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal and Immune Function in Normal Individuals," Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2010 Oct; 16 (10);1079-1088.

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