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Research indicates massage therapy reduces high blood pressure and stress levels, while it boosts mood, immune function and relaxation. May is High Blood Pressure Education Month—and massage therapists can use this nationally designated month to inform clients and the public about the benefits of massage to lower blood pressure.
The month is sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the CDC's website (www.cdc.gov), about 68 million Americans have high blood pressure, or hypertension. Stroke and heart disease are both exacerbated by high blood pressure.
In the study "The Effect of Deep-Tissue Massage Therapy on Blood Pressure and Heart Rate," 263 participants volunteered to receive deep-tissue massage to examine its effect on diastolic, systolic and mean arterial blood
Data collected from the completion of the study showed an average systolic pressure reduction of 10.4 millimeters of mercury, a diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 millimeters of mercury and a mean arterial pressure reduction of 7 millimeters of mercury. Results of the heart-rate data showed an average heart-rate reduction of 10.8 beats per minute.
"[This] study demonstrates a high correlation between deep-tissue massage and reduction in blood pressure and heart rate," the study's authors said. "These data are encouraging and positive, representing optimism and a hopeful outlook for future research in this area."