By Gabe Sanders Ph.D., NSCA-CSCS
I think it is safe to say almost everyone loves a good massage. Massage therapy can relax people, help them feel calm and perhaps help with muscle soreness and reduce muscular tension. In general, massage therapy is a form of stress relief.
Furthermore, recent research suggests that massage therapy can even battle fatigue. While getting a relaxing massage may not directly provide you with energy in the same way caffeine might boost your energy, it appears to combat fatigue, especially for those with cancer.
Massage therapy can reduce cancer-related fatigue
A series of different studies published from 2018-2020 has found that massage therapy can reduce cancer-related fatigue in adults and even children suffering from cancer. Cancer can produce significant pain and fatigue due to treatments and the disease itself is taxing on every system in the body.
It is unknown if massage therapy helps those body systems under attack or if the therapy provides temporary mental relief, which may in turn, improve physical symptoms as well. However, one concept is well understood by all parties and that is if it helps, even a little, the treatment or therapy is better, especially for those in palliative care.
Manual massages provide relief for cancer patients
There are various types of massage treatments that may help alleviate the severe fatigue associated with cancer and traditional cancer treatments. Manual massages are therapies accomplished by hand by squeezing and forcefully pushing the muscles to release tension. Other modalities, such as Theraguns or vibration massagers may be easy for caretakers to provide for patients or loved ones. While massage therapies may be able to provide some type of relief and fatigue exacerbation, it is not designed to replace traditional treatments that may help save a person’s life.
**Consult with a physician and/or medical healthcare provider before starting any type of healthcare therapy
Kinkead, Becky, et al. “Massage therapy decreases cancer‐related fatigue: Results from a randomized early phase trial.” Cancer 124.3 (2018): 546-554.
Wang, Kang, et al. “Clinical massage therapy for patients with cancer-related fatigue protocol of a systematic review.” Medicine 97.49 (2018).
Genik, Lara M., et al. “Massage therapy for symptom reduction and improved quality of life in children with cancer in palliative care: A pilot study.” Complementary therapies in medicine 48 (2020): 102263.
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