Massage and other touch therapies are known to relieve back pain, stress and tightness. In a new study, researchers have found that traditional Thai massage benefits back-pain patients in a variety of ways.

Researchers from the Division of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences, Khon Kaen University, Thailand, set out to determine “the immediate effects of traditional Thai massage on stress-related parameters including heart rate variability, anxiety, muscle tension, pain intensity, pressure pain threshold and body flexibility in patients with back pain associated with myofascial trigger points,” according to a report published on www.pubmed.gov.

Thirty-six patients were randomly allocated to receive a 30-minute session of either traditional Thai massage or control (rest on bed) for one session.

Results indicated that traditional Thai massage was associated with lower pain intensity, anxiety and muscle tension, as well as “significant increases in heart rate variability (increased total power frequency and high frequency), pressure pain threshold and body flexibility, “and significant decreases in self-reported pain intensity, anxiety and muscle tension,” the abstract noted. “For all outcomes, similar changes were not observed in the control group.”

According to the researchers, We conclude that [traditional Thai massage] can increase HRV and improve stress-related parameters in this patient population.

“The immediate effects of traditional Thai massage on heart rate variability and stress-related parameters in patients with back pain associated with myofascial trigger points” is running in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, published by Elsevier. (2011 Jan;15(1):15-23. Epub 2009 Jul 22.)

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