Body Sense

Winter 2011

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Finding the Middle Ground Moderate pressure during massage offers a powerhouse of health benefits By Rachel Walker With benefits ranging from reduced stress and blood pressure to improvements in well-being and quality of life for oncology patients, there's no denying the healing benefits of a massage—especially when the pressure's right. In 2010, a study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience said moderate pressure is essential to achieving the touted physical and physiological benefits of a massage. Even more surprising? According to Tiffany Field, PhD, the study's author and director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami Medical School, moderate pressure massage enhances immune function. "Moderate pressure massage leads to [an] increased natural killer (NK) cell number and NK cell activity," she says. "NK cells ward off bacterial, viral, and cancer cells." These groundbreaking results were reiterated by a recent study from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, where researchers compared a single session of moderate-pressure Swedish massage to a light-touch massage. Researchers from both studies discovered the level of applied pressure in just one session can mean the difference between an enjoyable experience and one that significantly

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