A study – The Effects of Deep-Tissue Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate – published in The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine (Volume 14, Number 2, 2008, pp 125-128) found that Deep Tissue Massage lowered blood pressure and heart rate.
The study involved 263 volunteers (12% Male and 88% Female) with an average age of 48.5. Massages were between 45 and 60 minutes long and over the course of the study 21 different soothing CD’s played in the background. The deep tissue therapist involved in the study had 22 years experience working with clients.
2 volunteers were not included in the results as they had never received massage before. Although all volunteers had reports significant pain or discomfort prior to the deep tissue massage this was not measure pre and post treatment as it was not part of the study in addition no correlation was done between the CD’s being played and blood pressure drop, however as the CD’s were hardly audible it is unlikely they altered hemodynamics. It is worth noting the experience level of the therapist who had 22 years experience working with clients.
The results of the study demonstrated an average systolic pressure reduction of 10.4 mm Hg (p<0.06), a diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 mm Hg (p<0.04), a mean arterial pressure reduction of 7.0 mm Hg (p<0.47) and an average heart rate reduction of 10.8 beats per minute (p<0.003).
Several studies have been published prior to this that investigated the relationship between massage and blood pressure, the most recent included 150 volunteers receiving varied massage therapies and the findings showed minimal changes to blood pressure. This study builds on those previous studies and is far more focused as it includes a larger sample size and concentrates on one style of massage therapy – Deep Tissue Massage.
So what can we draw from this study and findings – basically there seems to be a correlation between deep tissue massage and a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate and hopefully more studies will be done in the future that replicate these finding and can give more conclusive evidence.