This article is from the Alternative Medicine Therapies guide.
Massage is believed to positively affect everything from circulation to the body's metabolism. Swedish massage in particular has been shown to relieve muscle pain, reduce stress, and improve immune function. It can also enhance respiratory function, reduce edema (swelling) due to blocked lymphatic vessels, and aid in the healing of soft-tissue injuries.
Many of the stress-related benefits of massage have never been documented by scientific studies, but during the past 20 years an impressive body of research--mainly on Swedish massage--has nevertheless accumulated. Much of this work was conducted at the University of Miami School of Medicine's Touch Research Institute, and several studies have been funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
controlled trials are needed, the findings have included the following:
Massage has also been shown to have a profound effect on children as well as adults. Premature infants who were massaged, for example, gained weight and were released from the hospital sooner than those who were not massaged. Autistic children showed less erratic behavior after massage.
Other ailments that have responded to massage include chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine, and sciatica.