The massage therapy business model is a humongous success. Wherever you live in the United States, you can’t take a drive without seeing a massage center somewhere along the way.
Many people lay face down on massage tables in hopes that the skillful hands of a licensed therapist would rub all of the stress away.
However, it sometimes doesn’t work out the way we want it. I remember my many attempts to find a good massage therapist.
Related: Is Avoiding Stress Good For You?
There are the ones who seem to never know their own strengths almost literally separating your muscles fiber to fiber with their sharp elbows.
There are some therapists who treat their massage sessions like gossip time. Its not that I don’t like small talk, but it can be quite difficult to talk with your face smushed into a massage table. And somewhere along the conversation, you often end up saying something you feel is awkward that obliterates any of the relaxation benefits of the massage therapy.
Massage Therapy is Expensive
Truly it should take some trial and error, but by the time you have found your masseuse of choice, you might have also found your wallet noticeably lighter. Because for me and many people, the main disadvantage of message therapy is its cost. An hour of massage therapy would run around 60 to a hundred dollars.
Cheaper massage centers often have a steep decline in service so finding a quality massage therapist or a clean bed for that matter, would be quite a challenge.
Massage Therapy is Just as Effective as Heat Therapy or Listening to Music
According to a study by Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies massage therapy eases relaxation, but no better than simple relaxation does.
The researchers assigned 68 Group Health patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder to 10 one-hour sessions among three groups – massage therapy, thermotherapy, or relaxation therapy. All three treatments were done with the participants lying down in a pleasant environment with relaxing music playing in the background. After 3 months, the study found all three of the treatments decreased anxiety by 40 percent and to 50 percent after another 3 months.
Bang for the Buck
With its high costs, one would expect massage therapy to have a more effective relaxation response, but the data says otherwise. Other than anxiety reduction, the patients also reported reduced symptoms of depression, worry and disability. The researchers were not able to detect any difference among all three treatment groups.
Save Money if You Can
I am not here to completely sabotage the viability of massage therapy. Truly there are conditions which cannot be fixed by relaxation therapy alone, including muscle-tension induced stress and other kinds of conditions. If that is the case or if you simply like visiting the massage center, or if money is not a factor then more power to you.
However, if you are using massage therapy to ease your anxiety and stress, you are not getting the most out of your money. You are better off spending your money redecorating your room to make it more pleasant and relaxing, and buy yourself a relaxing music CD and perhaps some relaxation literature to guide you (just google it).
1. Group Health Cooperative Center for Health Studies. (2010, March 11). Massage eases anxiety, but no better than simple relaxation does. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 4, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100309102521.htm
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