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Monday, June 28, 2010

Deep breathing 'cuts stress as much as massage'

Source: BBC News - Deep breathing 'cuts stress as much as massage'
Massage is no more effective at cutting anxiety than deep breathing
and soothing music, say US researchers.The study of 68 people,
reported in Depression and Anxiety, showed anxiety symptoms were
halved for those given 10 massage sessions over three months. But
those given relaxation therapy, which is much cheaper, improved by the
same amount. Massage experts say the primary aim of massage is to
treat damage to soft tissue rather than relaxation. The study looked
at people with generalised anxiety disorder, a condition involving
excessive worry that makes normal life difficult. The patients were
given one of three treatments. One group had massage. The other two
groups had relaxation therapy (breathing deeply while lying down) or
thermotherapy (having their arms and legs wrapped up intermittently
with heating pads and warm towels).
We were surprised to find that the benefits of massage were no greater
than those of the same number of sessions of 'thermotherapy' or
listening to relaxing music Karen Sherman, lead researcher All
three therapies were given in a relaxing environment with soft
lighting and quiet music. At the end of the treatments, all three
groups reported their anxiety had decreased by about 40% - and about
50% three months later. Lead researcher, Dr Karen Sherman from the
Seattle based Group Health Centre for Health Studies said they were
surprised to find that the benefits of massage were no greater than
those of the same number of sessions of 'thermotherapy' or listening
to relaxing music. "This suggests that the benefits of massage may be
due to a generalised relaxation response," she said. "Treatment in a
relaxing room is much less expensive than the other treatments
(massage or thermotherapy), so it might be the most cost-effective
option for people with generalised anxiety disorder who want to try a
relaxation-oriented complementary medicine therapy." TensionBut
massage organisations pointed out that massage aims to do more than
relax people. Susan Findlay, spokesman for the General Council for
Massage Therapies, said massage was not just about dealing with
emotional issues and relaxation. "Massage therapists do corrective
work with soft tissue such as muscles and tendons. They try to make
these tissues work as well as possible," she said. "However, by
releasing tension in a shoulder for example, massage may also reduce
pain and so make the person feel more relaxed. "This can give the
person being treated a powerful psychological boost."

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