Many massage therapists in the U.S. have volunteered as members of disaster-relief teams. A new report shows that massage therapists in Japan are called into service after emergencies as well.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami inflicted immense damage over a wide area of eastern Japan in March 2011. Shortly following the events, the Department of Traditional Asian Medicine of Tohoku University began providing traditional Asian therapies to people in the disaster-stricken regions, according to an abstract on

“We visited seven evacuation centers in Miyagi and Fukushima Prefecture and provided acupuncture and massage therapy,” the authors noted. “While massage therapy was performed manually, filiform needles and press tack needles were used to administer acupuncture.

In total, 553 people were treated. Assessment by interview showed that the most common complaint was shoulder-and-back stiffness.

“The rate of therapy satisfaction was 92.3 percent,” the abstract noted. “Many people answered that they experienced not only physical but also psychological relief.

“At the time of the disaster, acupuncture and massage therapy, which has both mental and physical soothing effects, may be a therapeutic approach that can be effectively used in combination with Western medical practices,” the authors noted.

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