2011 – Client Perceptions of Massage Effects: A MassageNet Study

Posted:Friday, March 31, 2017

Jerrilyn Cambron, LMT, DC, MPH, PhD,
Jennifer Dexheimer, LMT, BS,
Dana Madigan, BS
Nicole Brod, BS
National University of Health Sciences

Introduction: There are still questions regarding who seeks massage, why massage is sought, and what effects are experienced post-massage.

Purpose: The purpose of this IRB-approved study was to describe the treatment characteristics of Illinois massage therapists and their clients’ perceived outcomes of care.

Methods: All Illinois massage therapists enrolled in the MassageNet practice-based research network who previously indicated interest in research participation were approached regarding this study. Each therapist, up to a total of 50, was asked to participate and if interested was asked to approach 20 consecutive clients. Before and after the massage, the clients were asked about their pain and stress levels. Immediately after the massage and 24 hours later the clients were asked to indicate any change in certain physical, mental, or emotional functions. The therapists were also asked to complete questions regarding the type and duration of the massage.

Results: Twenty-eight massage therapists and 379 clients participated. The most common form of massage included in therapy sessions was Swedish. The majority of clients were female with an average age of 53. Immediately after massage, clients reported a downward trend in levels of both pain (3.7 to 1.6 out of 10) and stress (3.5 to 1.5 out of 10). Physical, mental, and emotional improvements were reported immediately after and 24 hours after massage, with the greatest improvements being muscle tension (99%, 89% respectively), relaxation (96%, 81%), and serenity/peace (93%, 81%). Additional non-musculoskeletal improvements included circulation (67%, 48%), ability to breathe (53%, 39%), and digestion (30%, 29%). A minimal number of clients reported aspects that worsened after massage, with the most common being physical in nature.

Conclusion: Clients overwhelmingly reported improvements in their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These improvements were noted immediately after the massage as well as 24 hours later. Few aspects were found to have worsened.