Massage therapy has been used for centuries to help manage pain, increase range of motion, and improve overall quality of life. In fact, massage therapy dates so far back in history that evidence of its practice has been found in Egyptian tombs and ancient Chinese medical texts. Since this time, the knowledge of how massage therapy works and how it can help improve wellbeing has evolved substantially. However, there are still many persistent myths that create misconceptions about what massage therapy is and what it can accomplish.
Myth #1: Massage therapy releases toxins and cleanses the body.
Some people claim that massage therapy helps to flush metabolic by-products, or “toxins”, that accumulate as a result of cellular activity. However, our bodies have existing mechanisms in place to eliminate or recycle these compounds safe and effectively. So long as you have a functioning liver and kidneys, the body will naturally dispose of these compounds. Massage therapy does not push waste products from cells into the bloodstream and out of the body.
Myth #2: Receiving a massage during pregnancy can induce labour.
Another common misconception is that massage to the ankles will induce early labour. This myth is likely related to the reflexology-related belief that pressure points on the ankles will cause uterine contractions. There is currently no evidence suggesting that this claim is true and there is no scientifically plausible mechanism to explain how it might work. In most cases, massage therapy is safe and effective throughout pregnancy often helping to reduce musculoskeletal pain, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Myth #3: Cancer patients should not receive massage therapy.
Concerns about massage therapy and cancer arise from the myth that massage can spread cancer throughout the body due to increased blood flow. However, there is no evidence supporting this theory. Although massage directly on a tumour is contraindicated due to concerns that direct pressure can increase cellular shedding, massage therapy anywhere else is safe and effective to help manage the debilitating symptoms of cancer treatment or the illness itself.
If you are in need of massage or would like to discuss how massage therapy can help support your health, visit with me at WIN Health at the Niagara Falls or Fonthill location and I am happy to help.
Cowen, V. S., & Tafuto, B. (2018). Integration of Massage Therapy in Outpatient Cancer Care. International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork, 11(1), 4–10.
Field T. (2010). Pregnancy and labor massage. Expert review of obstetrics & gynecology, 5(2), 177–181.
Hinds T, McEwan I, Perkes J, Dawson E, Ball D, George K. Effects of massage on limb and skin blood flow after quadriceps exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 2004 Aug; 36(8): 1308-13.