Fitness trainers, massage professionals and many doctors tout the benefits of massage therapy on a young, physically active body. Numerous studies have been conducted to show its overall benefits, painting a pretty clear picture of how it can be used as an effective treatment.
For seniors looking to live an active, healthy lifestyle free of physiological problems, could massage therapy be a solution?
The effects of massage therapy on elderly people
Thankfully, numerous studies have also been conducted for groups of people over 60 years old, hoping to shed light on the question: Could massage therapy help ageing bodies?
According to a study published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, it could potentially benefit those who suffer high blood pressure problems.
The study found that there was a trend in decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the two types of numbers in a blood pressure check) immediately after therapy, and up to 60 minutes after that.
Researchers publishing their work in the US National Library of Medicine concluded a very similar result:
"Results suggest six weeks of [therapeutic massage] resulted in immediate and long-term improvements in postural stability and blood pressure, compared to a controlled condition."
Could massage therapy also help with arthritis?
Those suffering from arthritic symptoms could also benefit from a regular massage.
Rather than the rough pressure that may accompany a young person's massage, elderly therapy involves much lighter touching and pressing, with kneading applied to very specific points on the body. Initial studies show that this may very well help lubricate the joints, helping to relieve pressure and pain that rheumatoid arthritis can cause.
"Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes joints to become swollen, tender and stiff," said C.J. Funk, vice president of industry relations and product development for Massage Envy (a company that performed a study in conjunction with Touch Research Institute). "While there is no cure to date, we do know now that moderate pressure massage therapy can help relieve pain and improve the quality of life for patients."
Arthritis Today interviewed a massage patient also suffering arthritis. She claimed that it has a "calming effect on the tension and stress" caused by her condition. This relief, in her words, is "rewarding".
So if you're suffering blood pressure, stability or arthritic problems, consult your doctor to see if they would recommend a therapeutic massage treatment program.