Is there any evidence or information about the benefits of massage for people with Parkinsons?
What a large question which consumes one tiny sentence! I talk with people with Parkinsons who get massages regularly to help them release stress. To the extent that any therapy helps you release trauma and stress, you can rest assured your symptoms will become less bothersome.
Keep in mind that massage is a general term for many different therapies. People have told me that deep tissue massage is not helpful. The reason? I suspect that it is much too invasive. The body clamps down muscles in response to the intrusion.
If massage is coupled with energy healing (reiki, healing touch, energy healing), the therapist is much more likely to be gentle with the body’s response to the treatment as they invite the trauma and stress to be released. In my own experience. everything depends on the therapist.
I would say this very simply: There is a massage therapist out there in the universe who can be of benefit to you. Your job is to find them. You will know them when you get a first treatment.
So, even if you experiment with a massage and feel it did not help, stay on the lookout for someone else to get a treatment from. You will recognize the right person for you when you see them.
The bottom line is this: If the massage is intended to relax you – it will have benefits. If the massage is intended to release stress and trauma – it too will have benefits.
There is another benefit as well. Asking someone to help you is very therapeutic. I believe we can’t heal ourselves from the traumas of life. We have to ask for help from others. Besides, it is a great gift to give yourself.
What follows is a brief summary of some of the research and current thoughts about massage:
A study on massage:
Parkinson’s disease symptoms are differentially affected by massage therapy vs. progressive muscle relaxation: a pilot study
Maria Hernandez-Reifa, Tiffany Fielda, Shay Largiea, Christy Cullena, Julia Beutlera, Chris Sandersa, William Weinerb, Dinorah Rodriguez-Batemanb, Lisette Zelayab, Saul Schanberc, Cynthia Kuhnc
“Sixteen adults diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (M age=58) received 30-min massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation exercise sessions twice a week for 5 weeks (10 sessions total). Physicians rated participants in the massage therapy group as improved in daily living activities by the end of the study. The massaged group also rated themselves as improved in daily functioning, and having more effective and less disturbed sleep. Urine samples revealed that at the end of the 10 sessions, the massage therapy group had lower norepinephrine and epinephrine (stress hormone) levels, suggesting they were less stressed. The progressive muscle relaxation group had higher dopamine levels, which is interesting in that Parkinson’s is associated with a decrease in dopamine. The relaxation group also showed higher epinephrine levels, suggesting that although the relaxation exercises might have been beneficial, some Parkinson’s participants might have found the relaxation technique stressful.”
A research article on massage:
This study reports that spa therapy involving massage is beneficial for people with the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Website on massage:
This website specifically addresses the benefits of massage for people with the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Robert Rodgers, Ph.D.