How Massage Can Help Our Military Service Members

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Serenity Massage is proud to now offer 10% off all licensed therapist services for active duty military members and veterans with a valid U.S. military ID. Call (281) 358-0401 to schedule your appointment today. 

Massage therapy has been shown to have great benefits for active service members and veterans in improving their physical, mental, and emotional health. This therapy can also be helpful for active military members who are preparing for deployment or assignment since massage can help prepare muscles for an increase in use and stress in addition to creating more mental calmness and clarity.  Similar to how athletes use bodywork before and after sporting events, military service members can greatly benefit from frequent massage therapy. Massage can increase flexibility, relieve sore muscles, improve posture and alignment, reduce scar tissue and the breaking down of adhesions caused by wounds and injuries. Toxin removal can also help to be maximized with massage therapy. During deployment a member of the military may be exposed to various toxins and medications. Massage therapy can aid in the elimination of these toxins.

Massage therapy can also help reduce stress by normalizing hormone production. Often, the stresses of war and then transitioning to a civilian life without the support of a close knit community can lead to a chronic release of the hormone cortisol which, in the long term, can create multiple health problems. Massage has been shown to reduce cortisol levels and increase levels of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. In addition, insomnia can also be reduced with regular massage therapy sessions as massage helps to restore healthy sleep patterns and reduce overall stress, allowing for a more restful and deeper sleep.

Research shows that massage therapy may even prove beneficial to military members who seek relief from mental health problems. According to a 2014 study published in  JAMA Psychiatry, 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are three main concerns involving mental health that may be encountered by those who have served in the military.

·         Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Traumatic events, such as military combat, violent situations, disasters, or sexual violence can have long-lasting negative effects including insomnia, anger, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, increased violence, substance abuse, and suicide. A 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher than civilians.

·         Depression. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of depression to be five times higher than civilians.

·         Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).  According to the Warrior Angels Foundation, “A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is typically the result of a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. It can also be caused by a penetrating head injury. Essentially, any external force that causes the brain to move within the head can disrupt normal brain function, leading to loss of consciousness, or being dazed and confused. Among those who serve in the military, explosive blasts are the primary cause for TBIs.”

Massage therapy has been found to provide enormous relief for distressing physical and psychological symptoms largely attributed to the exposure to trauma. University of Washington research professor and massage therapist Cynthia Price believes that recent research findings “suggest that dissociation reduction, i.e., a more coherent sense of self, may play an important role in positive massage therapy effects.” A study conducted in 2012 focusing on how integrative therapies can help promote reintegration among veterans concluded that participants who received massage therapy reported significant reductions in physical pain, tension, irritability, anxiety/worry and depression.  

In addition to the numerous benefits a military service member can receive from massage therapy, a trusted massage therapist can also provide a clients with effective self-care strategies to help prolong the positive benefits achieved by showing methods of self-relaxation and stress management.

 

 

If you are having thoughts of suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.

 

Data Sources: 

 

Warrior Angels Foundation. http://waftbi.org/

"Traumatic Brain Injury." Cohen Veterans Bioscience. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page. 

“Veterans and Active Duty.” National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page. 

“In Safe Hands: Massage PTSD.” AMTA Massage. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page. 

Price CJ, Abdullahi, A Community Massage Program for Somali Women Immigrants. In: International Massage Therapy Research Conference; Boston, MA USA; 2013. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page.

Price CJ, Donovan D, Wells E, Rue T. Mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy as an adjunct to women’s substance use disorder treatment: A pilot feasibility study. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2012; 94–107. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page.

Price CJ. Dissociation reduction in body therapy during sexual abuse recovery. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2007;13(2): 116–28. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page.

Price, C. (2012). Massage for adults with a history of sexual trauma. Chapter In: Dryden, D. & Moyer, C. (Eds.) Massage Therapy: Integrating Research and Practice. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL., pp. 165-170. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page.

Price, C. (2004). Characteristics of women seeking bodywork as an adjunct to psychotherapy during recovery from childhood sexual abuse. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 8(1): 35-42. Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page.

Beyond PTSD – Helping to Heal the Trauma of Combat Through Massage Therapy.” Retrieved March 7, 2018 from this page.