Massage research helps grow massage therapy's acceptance by the public and by medical professionals. Without research, medical massage might not exist.

When a massage therapist gathers, reads and most importantly understands research, they can use that information to guide communication with clients and sessions.

Massage research helps grow massage therapy’s acceptance by the public and by medical professionals. Without research, medical massage might not exist, nor opportunities for massage therapists to work in hospitals or with professional athletic teams.

Take the time to learn about the organizations that support research into massage therapy; the resources they provide to massage therapists; and the opportunities for you to become a better massage therapist by utilizing the many research studies already conducted on massage and other bodywork specialties.

Touch Research Institute

The Touch Research Institute (TRI) was formed in 1992 by Director Tiffany Field, Ph.D., with a startup grant from Johnson & Johnson. Since then, TRI in Miami and its affiliates in the Philippines and France have conducted more than 100 studies on the effects of massage therapy.

Significant findings include enhanced growth, decreased pain, decreased autoimmune problems and enhanced immune function. According to TRI’s website, the institute’s mission is to “better define touch as it promotes health and contributes to the treatment of disease.”

The organization offers two-day, $500 workshops once a month in Miami. The workshops focus on research methods, and no prior experience is required. Massage therapists in the Miami area may contact TRI to participate in ongoing studies.

MassageNet Research Network

This practice-based research network uses data gathered from therapists and clients, in real-world settings, to answer important research questions. The network was established in 2009 with funding assistance from the Massage Therapy Foundation.

Its mission is to “develop and maintain communication between professional massage therapists, students, educators and researchers,” according to its website. The network’s founders intend to conduct high-quality research and then share those findings with others to expand the body of knowledge available in the field of massage therapy.

MassageNet is committed to understanding the effectiveness of client care, as well as the health care process that occurs within individual practices.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is one of 27 institutes and centers within the National Institutes of Health. NCCIH’s mission, according to its website, is to “define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.

NCCIH awards grants throughout the world to support CAM research and to provide training and career-development opportunities for pre-doctoral, postdoctoral and career researchers. Each year, NCCIH sets research priorities in specific areas of health, such as allergies or chronic pain syndromes, in order to fill gaps in existing research.

For a list of current research priorities, applications and deadline information, contact the Division of Extramural Research at NCCIH.

Massage Therapy Foundation

The Massage Therapy Foundation (MTF) was formed in 1990. Its mission is to advance the practice and use of massage therapy through grants for scientific research, community outreach and educational scholarships, available to all massage therapists.

MTF aims to bring “the benefits of massage therapy to the broadest spectrum of society through the generation, dissemination and application of knowledge in this field,” according to its website.

MTF awards research grants once a year to individuals or teams conducting studies on the efficacy of massage for specific conditions and the role of massage therapy in health care. Contact the foundation for applications and deadline information.

Canadian Touch Research Center

The Canadian Touch Research Center conducts, supports and collaborates on research aimed at pain relief, pain prevention and improved quality of life. The center’s website states it is “the first in the country exclusively devoted to the knowledge advancement of massotherapy and technical touch therapies.”

The center works toward this goal by implementing research that evaluates the application of touch therapies for specific conditions and publishing the results of such research.

The center emphasizes research pertaining to physical and physiological conditions, such as fibromyalgia, muscular performance and chronic muscular pain; psychological issues, such as bodily perception, behavior problems and stress; and human relations, such as massage in palliative care and for premature babies.

Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation

The Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation was founded in fall 2007. According to its website, it “encourages and supports interdisciplinary, scientifically sound research focusing on the therapeutic mechanisms, clinical effects, longer-term health effects and utilization of Structural Integration, a therapeutic method designed to evoke whole-body improvement of function and well-being.”

Current research related to fascia that is being conducted via support by the foundation includes “Mechanographic and histological examination of active fascial contractility” and “Function of the human lumbar fascia in walking,” among many others.

MASSAGE Magazine

MASSAGE Magazine publishes two Research Reports in each print issue, and one Research Report online, monthly.

A Research Report synthesizes a current research study into terminology understandable to non-researchers, and highlights current research into various massage and bodywork modalities.