Research into massage therapy and complementary techniques is helping the massage profession make strides into the medical environment. Research indicates that massage helps address specific complaints, conditions and clientele; and as research unfolds, massage will continue to be accepted and utilized as a valuable form of health care.
Massage Therapy Foundation
The Massage Therapy Foundation was formed in 1990 by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). Its mission is to advance the knowledge and practice of massage therapy through grants for scientific research, community outreach and education, available to AMTA members and nonmembers alike. The foundation 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. The foundation awards research grants once a year to investigators conducting studies on massage therapy and its applications, including research on massage as a health care treatment, mental-health treatment and prevention modality. Contact the foundation for applications and deadline information.
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. The NCCIH’s mission, according to its website, is to “define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and alternative medicine interventions and their roles in improving health and health care.” The center awards grants throughout the world to support CAM research and to provide training and career-development opportunities for predoctoral, postdoctoral and career researchers. Each year, NCCIH sets research priorities in specific areas of health, such as the impact of CAM modalities in relieving chronic pain syndromes and inflammatory processes, in order to fill gaps in existing research. For a list of current research priorities, application and deadline information, contact the Division of Extramural Research at NCCIH.
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 has conducted more than 100 studies on the positive effects of massage therapy. Significant findings include enhanced growth, decreased pain, decreased autoimmune problems and enhanced immune function. According to TRI’s website, its 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 (except August and December) in Miami, Florida. The workshops focus on research methods, and attendees receive 12 continuing education units. 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 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. They are committed to understanding the effectiveness of client care, as well as the health care process that occurs within individual practices.
Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation
The Ida P. Rolf Research Foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 2007. It was created with support from the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration. According to its website, the foundation was established to “encourage and support evidence-based studies of Structural Integration’s effects and its implications for conventional and complementary health care.” In 2008, the foundation took over management of the International Fascia Research Congress, which is held every three years.
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.
SpaEvidence.com is marketed as the “world’s first portal to the medical evidence for spa and wellness therapies.” It offers medical, wellness and spa professionals the ability to sift through thousands of clinical studies for free and determine what works, what does not and what conditions could be benefited by spa and massage therapies. The portal provides direct access to four respected, evidence-based medicine databases: Natural Standard, The Cochrane Library, PubMed and TRIP. SpaEvidence.com is an initiative of the Global Spa & Wellness Summit and was unveiled at the 2011 Global Spa Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Its mission is to “empower people to investigate the ‘hard science’ behind 21 approaches: from acupuncture to massage to yoga.”
Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary & Alternative Medicine Research
The Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary & Alternative Medicine Research (IN-CAM Research Network) launched in 2004 to promote CAM research in Canada. The network aims to create, support and facilitate high-quality research in the following research areas: the effectiveness and safety of CAM modalities and products; and CAM health care delivery and policy. According to the website, its mission is to “foster a sustainable, well-connected, highly trained Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) research community in Canada that is internationally recognized and known for both its excellence in research and its contributions to understanding CAM and its use.” It hosts the biannual IN-CAM Research Symposium.