Massage is an ancient technique that involves manual manipulation of muscles and soft tissues of the body. It increases circulation and promotes relaxation. In addition, it has important emotional and psychological benefits. The various forms of massage that are commonly practiced are Swedish massage, Shiatsu, Reflexology, and Tuina. Swedish massage is the most common and consists of five basic strokes and their variations. Reflexology involves massaging reflex points on the hands or feet that are believed to correspond to particular regions in the body. Shiatsu and Tuina are techniques that originated in Japan and China, and involve stimulation of acupuncture points and meridians to ensure proper flow of energy and blood to facilitate healing.
Clinical studies show that massage can alleviate symptoms such as stress/anxiety, nausea, insomnia, pain, fatigue, and depression in cancer patients (1) (3) (7) (8) (9) (12), and reduce psychological and neurological complications associated with bone marrow transplantation (2). Reflexology was found to alleviate pain and nausea (4) and to reduce anxiety in cancer patients (14) (15) (16). It also reduced symptoms of dyspnea and fatigue in advanced-stage breast cancer patients (13). Preliminary data indicate that postoperative arm massage can decrease pain and discomfort after lymph node dissection (5). Manual lymphatic drainage or MLD, which involves specialized light rhythmic massage, reduced lymphedema (6) and prevented secondary lymphedema (10) in breast cancer patients. Massage therapy is effective in treating chronic back pain (11), osteoarthritis of the knee (17), neck pain (18), and to reduce blood pressure (19). It may also help to relieve pain, anxiety, and muscular tension after cardiac surgery (20).
Massage is generally safe and being increasingly used as a complementary therapy to provide relief from certain symptoms of cancer and other illnesses. However, patients suffering from cancer, heart disease, or arthritis should consult a qualified massage therapist for treatment.
This study was conducted with a crossover design in which the same 24 healthy female students were included in the intervention group (head treatment) and the control group (bed rest alone). With intervals of at least 1 week between each treatment, the physical and psychological effects of a head treatment were examined, and the investigation revealed the following.
First, the results suggested that when a head treatment was performed, parasympathetic nerve activity increased immediately after the intervention and gradually decreased thereafter. The results demonstrated that a head treatment is a massage technique that can be safely performed without greatly affecting hemodynamics. Second, the results suggested that performing a head treatment not only decreased depression, boredom, and anxiety but also markedly increased liveliness. These findings demonstrated that a head treatment is a massage technique that offers relaxing and refreshing effects. Thus, on the basis of these results, it is suggested that head treatment has relaxing and refreshing effects and can be used as a technique to provide comfort.