Massage Therapy Can Help Reduce Winter Blues

 One in five Americans are impacted by seasonal change. Massage therapy has shown to improve mood and elevate energy levels


People looking to fend off the winter blues may find relief by integrating massage therapy into their health maintenance routine. Shorter days and colder temperatures leave many Americans feeling depressed and lethargic, yet studies show that regular massages improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy.


Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is recognized as a major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns. A less severe form of seasonal mood disorder, known as the winter blues, impacts an even larger portion of the population. Combined, the two disorders affect as many as one in five Americans, and may be aggravated by the change to Daylight Savings Time. Symptoms include reduced energy, difficulty rising in the morning and a tendency to eat more, especially sweets and starches.


“As we approach the colder, darker months, massage therapy may be an effective method of deflecting common seasonal challenges,” said Jeff Smoot, President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). “Massage benefits the way our bodies react to negative influences, whether that’s weather, anxieties or disorders.”



 Massage Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain

Research released in July 2011 expanded on previous studies demonstrating the effectiveness of massage therapy for chronic low back pain. Researchers found that “patients receiving massage were twice as likely as those receiving usual care to report significant improvements in both their pain and function”. The study was conducted over 10 weeks through Group Health Research Institute.


Participants had a 60-minute massage once a week for 10 weeks.Massage patients also said they reduced the amount of over the counter anti-inflammatory medications they took.The study compared both relaxation massage and “structural massage” therapy and found no difference in the results from the type of massage given.



Massage Therapy for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a chronic syndrome characterized by generalized pain, joint rigidity, intense fatigue, sleep alterations, headache, spastic colon, craniomandibular dysfunction, anxiety, and depression. This study demonstrated that massage-myofascial release techniques improved pain and quality of life in patients with fibromyalgia. 


The study found reductions in sensitivity to pain at tender points in patients with fibromyalgia.Patients in the massage group received 90-minute massage for 20 weeks.Immediately after treatment and one month after the massage program, anxiety levels, quality of sleep, pain and quality of life were still improved.