A new study suggests that massage therapy can decrease blood pressure in women with pre-hypertension. The study found that massage therapy significantly reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and the benefits lasted at least three days after one massage session.
Hypertension, commonly referred to as high blood pressure, affects approximately 50 million adults in the US. The term “pre-hypertension” refers to people who have elevated blood pressure levels that haven’t yet reached the high-blood pressure threshold. People with pre-hypertension are 3.5 times more likely to develop myocardial infraction and 1.7 times more likely to have coronary disease.
“[High blood pressure] is like a ticking bomb and should be treated seriously. It is a preventable disease,” wrote Mahshid Givi of the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences who authored the new study.
Earlier studies have suggested that massage affects blood pressure in people who already have hypertension, but Givi was interested in seeing whether massage therapy could act as a preventive measure for people with pre-hypertension.
Givi studied the effects of massage therapy on 50 women with pre-hypertension. Half of the women received Swedish massage for 10-15 minutes three times a week for 10 sessions. The other half was told to relax in the same environment without receiving massage.
Researchers measured blood pressure immediately before and after the treatment, and took additional measurements three days after the massage session to assess the lasting effects. Massage therapy was found to immediately normalize blood pressure, and these reductions persisted at the 72-hour follow-up. Although the underlying mechanisms are still unclear, this study suggests that massage therapy can effectively lower blood pressure in patients with pre-hypertension.
While pre-hypertension can be treated with drugs, most clinicians recommend non-pharmacological options as the first line of treatment. This research suggests that massage therapy could be an effective adjunct for preventing high blood pressure, along with lifestyle changes, nutrition and exercise. Chiropractic spinal adjustments have also been found to significantly reduce blood pressure in earlier studies. Both chiropractic and massage therapy may offer patients an effective natural way to prevent the risks associated with hypertension.
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Givi Mahshid. Durability of effect of massage therapy on pressure. International Journal of Preventive Medicine 2013; 4 (5): 511-516.