During my massage training, and over the years that I have practiced massage, I have heard many times through classes and articles that there are many health benefits and specific effects of massage therapy. In a valuable new e-book by oncology massage expert Tracy Walton, we can discover which of these claims is backed up by a solid collection of studies, and which are vague and unsubstantiated.
Among those claims that should be dropped are many that have been repeated so often that we all assume that they are true. But we certainly know the danger in accepting statements without checking the references.
If you would like to read the whole book, it is laid out in a easy to read e-book with many pictures and diagrams at the Massage Therapy Foundation Website: Five Myths and Truths about Massage Therapy
In the book Walton carefully distinguishes between clinical outcomes and mechanistic outcomes. We have tended to makes mechanistic claims such as that massage elevates endorphins, lowers cortisol, increases circulation, or “detoxifies”. Mostly these are not supported by research. The good news is that important clinical outcomes ARE supported, such as lowering pain and reducing anxiety.