Paul Manley Clinic London Massage Research

Nervous System

Diego, M. & Field, T. (2009). Moderate pressure massage elicits a parasympathetic nervous system response. International Journal of Neuroscience, 119, 630-638.

METHODS: Twenty healthy adults were randomly assigned to a moderate pressure or a light pressure massage therapy group, and EKGs were recorded during a 3-min baseline, during the 15-min massage period and during a 3-min postmassage period. EKG data were then used to derive the high frequency (HF), low frequency (LF) components of heart rate variability and the low to high frequency ratio (LF/HF) as noninvasive markers of autonomic nervous system activity.

RESULTS: The participants who received the moderate pressure massage exhibited a parasympathetic nervous system response characterized by an increase in HF, suggesting increased vagal efferent activity and a decrease in the LF/HF ratio, suggesting a shift from sympathetic to parasympathetic activity that peaked during the first half of the massage period. On the other hand, those who received the light pressure massage exhibited a sympathetic nervous system response characterized by decreased HF and increased LF/HF.

Oil usage

Field, T., Schanberg, S., Davalos, M., & Malphurs, J. ( 1996). Massage with oil has more positive effects on normal infants. Pre- and Perinatal Psychology Journal, 11, 75-80.

METHODS: Sixty, one-month-old infants were randomly assigned to a massage group with oil and a massage group without oil. Massage had a soothing/calming influence on the infants, particularly when given with oil.

RESULTS: The infants who received massage with oil were less active, showed fewer stress behaviors and head averting, and their saliva cortisol levels decreased more. In addition, vagal activity increased more following massage with oil versus massage without oil.

Agarwal, K.N., Gupta, A., Pushkarna, R., Bhargava, S.K., Faridi, M.M., & Prabhu, M.K. (2000). Effects of massage & use of oil on growth, blood flow & sleep pattern in infants. Indian Journal of Medical Research, 112, 212-217.

METHODS: The present study investigated massage oils commonly used in the community for massaging infancts. Full term born healthy infants (n = 125), 6 weeks of age, were randomly divided into five groups. Infants received (i) herbal oil, (ii) sesame oil, (iii) mustard oil, or (iv) mineral oil for massage daily for 4 week. The fifth group did not receive massage and served as a control group.

RESULTS: Massage improved the weight, length, and midarm and midleg circumferences as compared to infants without massage. However, the group with sesame oil massage increased in length, midarm and midleg circumferences. The femoral artery blood velocity, diameter and flow improved significantly in the group with sesame oil massage as compared to the control group. Massage also improved the post massage sleep time.


Perlman, A.I., Ali, A., Njike, V.Y., Hom, D., Davidi, A., Gould-Fogerite, S., Milak, C., & Katz, D.L. (2012). Massage Therapy for Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Dose-Finding Trial. PloS One, 7(2), e30248.

METHODS: Participants with OA of the knee was randomized to one of four 8-week regimens of a standardized Swedish massage regimen (30 or 60 min weekly or biweekly).

RESULTS: WOMAC Global scores improved significantly in the 60-minute massage groups. WOMAC subscales of pain and functionality, as well as the visual analog pain scale also demonstrated significant improvements in the 60-minute doses compared to usual care. The 60-minute once weekly dose was determined to be optimal.


Agren, C., Lundeberg, T., Uvnas-Moberg, K., & Sato, A. (1995). The oxytocin antagonist 1-deamino-2-D-Tyr-(Oet)-4-Thr-8-Orn-oxytocin reverses the increase in the withdrawal response latency to thermal, but not mechanical nociceptive stimuli following oxytocin administration or massage-like stroking in rats. Neuroscience Letters, 18, 49-52.

METHODS: In this study the effect of exogenous oxytocin and of massage-like stroking on the withdrawal latency responses to heat and mechanical nociceptive stimulation were investigated in rats. A hot-plate test was used to assess withdrawal responses.

RESULTS: Exogenous oxytocin and stroking (a low frequency mechanical stimulation) significantly increased the withdrawal latencies in response to mechanical and to thermal nociceptive stimuli. The effect of oxytocin and of stroking on the hot-plate test was reversed by an oxytocin antagonist directed against the uterine receptor. In contrast, the antagonist did not affect the prolonged response latency in the mechanical nociceptive stimulation test following either exogenous oxytocin or stroking. These results support the view that (1) oxytocin administration affects directly nociceptive-related behavior in response to heat stimulation, and (2) massage-like stroking may have an anti-nociceptive effect via activation of oxytocinergic mechanisms. Since the response to mechanical stimulation was not blocked by the antagonist, the mechanisms mediating the withdrawal latency to heat and mechanical stimulation could be different.

Kurosawa, M., Lundeberg, T., Agren, G., Lund, I., and Uvnas-Moberg, K. (1995). Massage-like stroking of the abdomen lowers blood pressure in anesthetized rats: influence of oxytocin. Journal of the Autonomic Nervous System, 56, 26-30.

METHODS: The aim of this study was to determine how massage-like stroking of the abdomen in rats influences arterial blood pressure. The participation of oxytocinergic mechanisms in this effect was also investigated. The ventral and/or lateral sides of the abdomen were stroked in anesthetized, artificially ventilated rats. Arterial blood pressure was recorded with a pressure transducer via a catheter in the carotid artery.

RESULTS: Stroking of the ventral, or both ventral and lateral sides of the abdomen for one minute caused a marked decrease in arterial blood pressure. After cessation of the stimulation blood pressure returned to the control level within 1 min. Stroking only the lateral sides of the abdomen elicited a significantly smaller decrease in blood pressure than stroking the ventral side. The decrease in blood pressure caused by stroking was not altered by an oxytocin antagonist. In contrast, the administration of oxytocin diminished the effect, which was antagonized by a simultaneous injection of the oxytocin antagonist. These results indicate that the massage-like stroking of the abdomen decreases blood pressure in anesthetized rats. This effect does not involve intrinsic oxytocinergic transmission. However, since exogenously applied oxytocin was found to diminish the effect of stroking, oxytocin may exert an inhibitory modulatory effect on this reflex arc.

Matthiesen, A.S., Ransjo-Arvidson, A.B., Nissen, E. & Uvnas-Moberg, K. (2001). Postpartum maternal oxytocin release by newborns: effects of infant hand massage and sucking. Birth, 28, 13-19.

METHODS: Hand movements and sucking behavior were studied in healthy term newborns who were placed skin-to-skin on their mothers' chests, as well as maternal oxytocin release. Ten vaginally delivered infants whose mothers had not been exposed to maternal analgesia were video-recorded from birth until the first breastfeeding.

RESULTS: Infants used their hands to explore and stimulate their mother's breast in preparation for the first breastfeeding. When the infants were sucking, the massagelike hand movements stopped and started again when the infants made a sucking pause. Periods of increased massagelike hand movements or sucking of the mother's breast were followed by an increase in maternal oxytocin levels.


Cutshall, S.M., Wentworth, L.J., Engen, D., Sundt, T.M., Kely, R.F., & Bauer, B.A. (2010). Effect of massage therapy on pain, anxiety, and tension in cardiac surgical patients: a pilot study. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 16, 92-95.

METHODS: A randomized controlled trial comparing outcomes before and after intervention in Patients undergoing cardiovascular surgical procedures. Patients in the intervention group received a 20-minute session of massage therapy intervention between postoperative days 2 and 5.

RESULTS: Decreases in pain, anxiety, and tension scores were observed for patients who received a 20-minute massage compared with those who received standard care.

Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., & Fraser, M. (2007). Lower back pain and sleep disturbance are reduced following massage therapy. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapy, 11, 141-145.

METHODS: Thirty adults (mean age of 41 years) with lower back pain with a duration of at least 6 months participate in the study. Massage therapy sessions were 30 min long twice a week for 5 weeks. A relaxation therapy group, which was included to control for potential placebo and increased attention effects, was shown how to use progressive muscle relaxation exercises including tensing and relaxing large muscle groups.

RESULTS: After the first session, the massage participants reported less depressed mood, as they did across the study. After the first and last massage therapy session, they were less anxious. Similarly, pain was lessened after the first and last sessions and over the course of the study for the massage therapy group. These findings concur with other massage studies on depressive pain syndromes including fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome and suggest that massage therapy is more effective than relaxation therapy for reducing pain and anxiety, and for improving mood.

Hasson, D., Arnetz, B., Jelveus, L., & Edelstam, B. (2004). A randomized clinical trial of the treatment effects of massage compared to relaxation tape recordings on diffuse long-term pain. Psychother Psychosom., 73, 17-24.

METHODS: The purpose of this randomized clinical trial was to assess possible effects of massage as compared to listening to relaxation tapes on musculoskeletal pain. 129 patients suffering from long-term musculoskeletal pain were randomized to either a massage or relaxation group, and assessed before, during and after treatment.

RESULTS: During treatment there was a significant improvement in self-rated health, mental energy, and muscle pain only in the massage group as compared to the relaxation group.

Field, T., Figueiredo, B., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Deeds, O. & Ascencio, A. (2008). Massage therapy reduces pain in pregnant women, alleviates prenatal depression in both parents and improves their relationships. Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies, 12, 146-150.

METHODS: Prenatally depressed women (N=47) were randomly assigned to a group that received massage twice weekly from their partners from 20 weeks gestation until the end of pregnancy or a control group.

RESULTS: Self-reported leg pain, back pain, depression, anxiety and anger decreased more for the massaged pregnant women than for the control group women. In addition, the partners who massaged the pregnant women versus the control group partners reported less depressed mood, anxiety and anger across the course of the massage therapy period. Finally, scores on a relationship questionnaire improved more for both the women and the partners in the massage group. These data suggest that not only mood states but also relationships improve mutually when depressed pregnant women are massaged by their partners.

Kubsch, S.M., Neveau, T., & Vandertie, K. (2000). Effect of cutaneous stimulation on pain reduction in emergency department patients. Complementary Therapies in Nursing & Midwifery, 6, 25-32.

METHODS: Tactile stimulation was used with 50 emergency department patients to relieve pain. Another objective was to determine the effect of tactile stimulation on blood pressure and heart rate.

RESULTS: Following stimulation, subjects reported significantly reduced pain, and demonstrated reduced heart rate, and blood pressure readings.

Lemanek, K.L., Ranalli, M., Lukens, C. (2009). A randomized controlled trial of massage therapy in children with sickle cell disease. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 34, 1096-1096.

METHODS: Children and their parents were assigned to a massage therapy or an attention control group. Parents were trained to provide nightly massages.

RESULTS: Children in the massage therapy group showed higher levels of functional status and lower levels of depression, anxiety and pain.

Lundeberg, T. (1984). Long-term results of vibratory stimulation as a pain relieving measure for chronic pain. Pain, 20, 13-23.

METHODS: 267 patients with chronic neurogenic or musculoskeletal pain were given vibratory stimulation for their pain. The patients were observed for 18 months or until they terminated the treatment.

RESULTS: About half of the successfully relieved patients (59% of the total number of patients) reported more than 50% pain relief, as scored on a visual analogue and an adjective scale. Seventy-two percent of these patients reported increased social activity and greater than 50% reported reduced intake of analgesic drugs after 12 months of home treatment.

Lundeberg, T., Abrahamsson, P., Bondesson, L., & Haker. E. (1987). Effect of vibratory stimulation on experimental and clinical pain. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 20, 149-159.

METHODS: The effect of vibratory stimulation on experimental pain of the skin overlying the right and left extensor carpi radialis longus muscle induced by electrical stimulation was studied in 16 healthy subjects and in 18 patients suffering from chronic epicondyalgia of the right elbow.

RESULTS: In the healthy subjects there were no side differences whereas in the patients, the skin pain threshold over the painful right muscle was lower than that of the left unaffected side under resting conditions. After vibratory stimulation, the skin pain threshold increased bilaterally by 1.1-1.6 times the pre-stimulation threshold in the healthy subjects and by 1.2-2.3 times this threshold in the patients. In 8 of the healthy subjects there was an increase in peripheral blood flow during stimulation and in 8 there was a small decrease. In 13 patients the change in pain threshold was seen in phase with the local increase and decrease in peripheral blood flow. In all individuals, the pain thresholds were regained within 45 minutes of cessation of stimulation. This was in contrast to the general subjective pain in the patients; 12 patients reported that the relief of pain lasted for a period of 1-7 hours.

Lundeberg, T., Abrahamsson, P., & Haker, E. (1987). Vibratory stimulation compared to placebo in alleviation of pain. Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 19, 153-158.

METHODS: The placebo effect of vibratory stimulation was studied in 72 patients with chronic pain syndromes in a double-blind crossover trial using a vibrator and a "placebo unit".

RESULTS: Pain alleviation was reported by 48% of the patients during vibratory stimulation compared with 34% for placebo treatment.

Nixon, M., Teschendorff, J., Finney, J., & Karnilowicz, W. (1997). Expanding the nursing repertoire: The effect of massage on post-operative pain. Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 14, 21-26.

METHODS: A treatment group of 19 patients and a control group of 20 patients were compared on the impact of massage therapy on patients’ perceptions of post-operative pain.

RESULTS: Controlling for age, the results indicated that massage produced a significant reduction in patients’ perceptions of pain over a 24 hour period.

Piotrowski, M.M., Paterson, C., Mitchinson, A., Kim, H.M., Kirsh, M., Hinshaw, D.B. (2003). Massage as adjuvant therapy in the management of acute postoperative pain: a preliminary study in men. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 197, 1037-1046.

METHODS: This prospective randomized clinical trial compared pain relief after major operations in 202 patients who received one of three nursing interventions: massage, focused attention, or routine care. Interventions were performed twice daily starting 24 hours after the operation through postoperative day 7. Perceived pain was measured each morning.

RESULTS: The rate of decline in the unpleasantness of postoperative pain was accelerated by massage. Use of opioid analgesics was not altered significantly by the interventions.

Van den Dolder, P.A., & Roberts, D.L. (2003). A trial into the effectiveness of soft tissue massage in the treatment of shoulder pain. The Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 49, 183-188.

METHODS: The purpose of this single blinded randomized controlled trial was to investigate the effects of soft tissue massage on range of motion, reported pain and reported function in patients with shoulder pain. Twenty-nine patients referred to physiotherapy for shoulder pain were randomly assigned to a treatment group that received six treatments of soft tissue massage around the shoulder (n = 15) or to a control group that received no treatment while on the waiting list for two weeks (n = 14). Measurements were taken both before and after the experimental period by a blinded assessor. Active range of motion was measured for flexion, abduction and hand-behind-back movements. Pain was assessed with the Short Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SFMPQ) and functional ability was assessed with the Patient Specific Functional Disability Measure (PSFDM).

RESULTS: The treatment group showed significant improvements in range of motion compared with the control group for abduction, flexion and hand-behind-back. Massage reduced pain as reported on the descriptive section of the SFMPQ by a mean of 5 points and on the visual analogue scale by an average of 27 mm, and it improved reported function on the PSFDM by a mean of 9 points.

Walach, H., Guthlin, C., & Konig, M. (2003). Efficacy of massage therapy in chronic pain: A pragmatic randomized trial. Journal of Alternative and Complement Medicine, 9, 837-846.

METHODS: Classic massage was compared to standard medical care (SMC) in chronic pain conditions of back, neck, shoulders, head and limbs. Pain was rated at pretreatment, post-treatment, and 3 month follow-up, as well as pain adjective list, depression, anxiety, mood, and body concept.

RESULTS: 29 patients were randomized, 19 to receive massage, 10 to SMC. Pain improved significantly in both groups, but only in the massage group was it still significantly improved at follow-up. Depression and anxiety were improved significantly by both treatments, yet only the massage group maintained at follow-up.

Wang, H.L., & Keck, J.F. (2004). Foot and hand massage as an intervention for postoperative pain. Pain Management Nursing, 5, 59-65.

METHODS: The purpose of this pretest-posttest design study was to investigate whether a 20-minute foot and hand massage (5 minutes to each extremity), which was provided 1 to 4 hours after a dose of pain medication, would reduce pain perception and sympathetic responses among postoperative patients.

RESULTS: Participants reported decreases in pain intensity. Decreases in sympathetic responses to pain (i.e., heart rate and respiratory rate) were observed although blood pressure remained unchanged. The patients experienced moderate pain after they received pain medications.


Donoyama, N., & Ohkoshi, N. (2012). Effects of traditional Japanese massage therapy on various symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease: a case-series study. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18, 294-299.
Patient with Parkinson’s received a 30-minute session of traditional Japanese massage. RESULTS: (1) Patients with gait disturbance showed improved gait speed, (2) those with frozen shoulder showed improved range of motion of the shoulder joint, and (3) VAS scores for assessing the severity of other subjective symptoms were improved.

Hernandez-Reif, M., Field, T., Largie, S., Cullen, C., Beutler, J., Sanders, C., Weiner, W., Rodriguez-Bateman, D., Zelaya, L., Schanberg, S. & Kuhn, C. (2002). Parkinson's disease symptoms are reduced by massage therapy and progressive muscle exercises. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 6, 177-182.

METHODS: Sixteen adults diagnosed with idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease, received 30-minute massage therapy or progressive muscle relaxation sessions twice a week for five weeks (10 sessions total).

RESULTS: Physicians rated massage therapy participants as improved in daily living activities by the end of the study. Participants also rated themselves as improved in daily functioning including having more effective and less disturbed sleep.

Perineal Massage

Davidson, K., Jacoby, S., & Brown, M.S. (2000). Prenatal perineal massage: preventing lacerations during delivery. JOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, 29, 474-479.

METHODS: To investigate the associations between perineal lacerations and 13 variables associated with the incidence of perineal lacerations 368 women were assessed.

RESULTS: When parity was controlled, the only factors independently associated with the seriousness of lacerations were parity and prenatal perineal massage.

Labrecque, M., Eason, E., & Marcoux, S. (2001). Women's views on the practice of prenatal perineal massage. British Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, 108, 499-504.

METHODS: 763 women received perineal massage during pregnancy. Based on a factor analysis, 17 of the questions were classified into four categories: acceptability of perineal massage (8 items); preparation for birth (4 items); relationship with the partner (2 items); and effect of massage on delivery (3 items). The last two questions asked whether women would perform the massage in their next pregnancy and whether they would recommend perineal massage to another pregnant woman.

RESULTS: Pain and technical problems reported during the first week or two of massage tended to disappear after a few weeks. Women's assessment of the effect of massage on preparation for birth and on delivery was positive. Women's views about the effect on their relationship with their partner were either positive or negative and were proportional to the partner's participation with the massage. Most women said they would massage again if they were to have another pregnancy and would recommend it to another pregnant woman.

Physicians’ Perspectives

Verhoef, M.J., & Page, S.A. (1998). Physicians' perspectives on massage therapy. Canadian Family Physician, 44, 1018-1040.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to examine the knowledge, opinions, and referral behavior of family physicians with respect to massage therapy and to explore factors associated with referral. Three hundred family physicians were mailed a survey containing questions about sociodemographic and practice characteristics, perceived knowledge of massage therapy, opinions about the usefulness and legislation (government regulations) of massage therapy, and referral behavior.

RESULTS: Fifty-four percent of physicians completed the questionnaire. Sixty-eight percent of respondents indicated they had minimal or no knowledge. Of the remaining, most (83%) believed massage therapy was a useful adjunct to their own practice. Moreover, 71% had referred patients to massage therapists and most (72%) perceived increasing demand from their patients for massage therapy. Approximately half of the physicians surveyed supported government regulation of massage therapy. Thus, the physicians demonstrated a discrepancy between their knowledge of massage therapy and their opinions of, and referrals to, the profession. Physicians who referred patients to massage therapists generally held more positive opinions and had more knowledge of the discipline.


Delaney, J.P., Leong, K.S., Watkins, A., & Brodie, D. (2002). The short-term effects of myofascial trigger point massage therapy on cardiac autonomic tone in healthy subjects. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37, 364-371.

METHODS: The effects of myofascial trigger-point massage therapy to the head, neck and shoulder areas were measured on cardiac autonomic tone on 30 healthy subjects. A 5-minute cardiac interbeat interval recording, systolic and diastolic blood pressure and subjective self-evaluations of muscle tension and emotional state were taken before and after intervention. Autonomic function was measured using time and frequency domain analysis of heart rate variability.

RESULTS: Following myofascial trigger-point massage therapy there was a significant decrease in heart rate, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Analysis of heart rate variability revealed a significant increase in parasympathetic activity following myofascial trigger-point massage therapy. Additionally both muscle tension and emotional state showed significant improvement.

Diego, M.A., Field, T., Sanders, C., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2004). Massage therapy of moderate and light pressure and vibrator effects on EEG and heart rate. International Journal of Neuroscience, 114, 31-44.

METHODS: Three types of commonly used massage therapy techniques were assessed in a sample of 36 healthy adults, randomly assigned to a: (1) moderate massage, (2) light massage, or (3) vibratory stimulation group. Changes in anxiety and stress were assessed, and EEG and EKG were recorded.

RESULTS: Anxiety scores decreased for all groups, but the moderate pressure massage group reported the greatest decrease in stress. The moderate massage group also experienced a decrease in heart rate and EEG changes including an increase in delta and a decrease in alpha and beta activity, suggesting a relaxation response. Finally, this group showed increased positive affect, as indicated by a shift toward left frontal EEG activation. The light massage group showed increased arousal, as indicated by decreased delta and increased beta activity and increased heart rate. The vibratory stimulation group also showed increased arousal, as indicated by increased heart rate and increased theta, alpha, and beta activity.

Post-traumatic Stress

Field, T., Seligman, S., Scafidi, F., & Schanberg, S. (1996). Alleviating posttraumatic stress in children following Hurricane Andrew. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 17, 37-50.

METHODS: Massage therapy was evaluated for the reduction of anxiety and depression levels of children as measured by behavioral observations, their drawings, and their cortisol levels. Sixty 1st-5th graders who showed classroom behavior problems following Hurricane Andrew were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a video attention group.

RESULTS: Scores on the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Index suggest that the subjects were experiencing severe posttraumatic stress. Subjects who received massage reported being happier and less anxious and had lower salivary cortisol levels after the therapy than the video subjects. The massage group showed more sustained changes as manifested by lower scores for anxiety, depression, and self-drawings. The massage therapy subjects were also observed to be more relaxed.


Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Hart, S., Theakston, H., Schanberg, S., Kuhn, C. & Burman, I. (1999). Pregnant women benefit from massage therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 20, 31-38.

METHODS: Twenty-six pregnant women were assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group for 5 weeks. The therapies consisted of 20-min sessions twice a week.

RESULTS: Both groups reported feeling less anxious after the first session and less leg pain after the first and last session. Only the massage therapy group, however, reported reduced anxiety, improved mood, better sleep and less back pain by the last day of the study. In addition, urinary stress hormone levels (norepinephrine) decreased for the massage therapy group, and the women had fewer complications during labor and their infants had fewer postnatal complications (e.g., less prematurity).

Norheim, A.J., Pederson, E.J., Fonnebo, V., & Berge, L. (2001). Acupressure treatment of morning sickness in pregnancy. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care, 19, 43-47.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to find out whether acupressure wristband could alleviate nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Symptoms were recorded according to intensity, duration and nature of complaints in 97 pregnant women of 8-12 weeks gestation.

RESULTS: 71% of women in the intervention group reported both less intensive morning sickness and reduced duration of symptoms.

Werntoft, E., & Dykes, A.K. (2001). Effect of acupressure on nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. A randomized, placebo-controlled, pilot study. The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 46, 835-839.

METHODS: The purpose of this study was to compare the anti-emetic effect of acupressure in a group of healthy women with normal pregnancy and nausea and vomiting during pregnancy with a similar group receiving acupressure at a placebo point and another, similar group not receiving any treatment.

RESULTS: Relief from nausea appeared one day after starting treatment in both the acupressure and placebo groups. The acupressure group experienced significantly less nausea after 14 days as compared to the other two groups.

Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., & Diego, M. (2006). Newborns of depressed mothers who received moderate versus light pressure massage during pregnancy. Infant Behavior and Development, 29, 54-58.

METHODS: Sixty-four neonates (M age=6.8 days) of depressed mothers who received moderate pressure massage versus light pressure massage therapy during pregnancy (month 5 through month 8) were compared on their behaviors during 15-min observations and on their performance on the Brazelton Neonatal Behavior Assessment Scale.

RESULTS: The group of neonates whose mothers received moderate pressure massage spent a greater percent of the observation time smiling and vocalizing, and they received better scores on the orientation, motor, excitability, and depression clusters of the Brazelton scale.

Field, T., Hernandez-Reif, M., Feijo, L., & Freedman, J. (2006). Prenatal, perinatal and neonatal supplemental stimulation: A survey of neonatal nurseries. Infant Behavior and Development, 29, 24-31.

METHODS: A recent survey was conducted on stimulation of mothers and babies during pregnancy and the neonatal period. The survey was responded to by 82 neonatology staff members from Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) at hospitals in the United States.

RESULTS: Some forms of stimulation were extremely common including (1)skin-to-skin following birth in the delivery room (83% of hospitals); (2) containment (swaddling and surrounded by blanket rolls) in the NICU (86%); (3) music in the NICU (72%); (4) rocking in the NICU (85%); (5) kangaroo care (98%); (6) non-nutritive sucking during tubefeedings in the NICU (96%); and (7)breastfeeding in the NICU (100%). Other forms of stimulation occurred less frequently including (1) pregnancy massage (19%); (2) labor massage (30%); (3) the Doula (assistant who comforts during labor and delivery) (30%); (4) waterbeds in the NICU (23%); and (5) preterm infant massage in the NICU (38%).


Field, T. Diego, M., & Hernandez-Reif, M. (2008). Prematurity and Potential Predictors. International Journal of Neuroscience, 118, 277-289.
Prematurity continues to be the leading cause of neonatal death and developmental disability, highlighting the importance of identifying potential predictors of prematurity as well as interventions that can be linked to the predictors. This review covers recent research on potential psychological, physiological, and biochemical predictors. Among the psychological stressors are depression, anxiety, difficult relationships, and lack of social support. Biochemical predictors include corticotropin-releasing hormone, cortisol, and fetal fibronectin. A program of research that links an intervention for prematurity with a predictor for prematurity, that is, massage therapy to reduce cortisol and, in turn, reduce prematurity, is then presented.

Procianoy, R.S., Mendes, E.W. & Silveira, R.C. (2010). Massage therapy improves neurodevelopmental outcome at two years corrected age for very low birth weight infants. Early Human Development, 86, 7-11.

METHODS: Newborns with very low birthweight and gestational age were randomly assigned to massage therapy by mothers plus skin-to-skin care (Intervention Group) or just skin-to-skin care (Control Group) during their hospital stay.

RESULTS: The Intervention Group had borderline higher Psychomotor Development Index and Mental Development Index scores than the Control Group.

Premenstrual Syndrome

Hernandez-Reif, M., Martinez, A., Field, T., Quintero, O., & Hart, S. (2000). Premenstrual syndrome symptoms are relieved by massage therapy. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, 21, 9-15.

METHODS: Twenty-four women with premenstrual syndrome were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a relaxation therapy group.

RESULTS: The massage group showed decreases in anxiety, depressed mood and pain immediately after the massage sessions. In addition, by the last day of the study the massage therapy group reported a reduction in menstrual distress symptoms including pain and water retention. These data suggest that massage therapy is effective for treating premenstrual syndrome.


Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M., Medina, L., Delgado, J., & Hernandez, A.(2012). Yoga and massage therapy reduce prenatal depression and prematurity. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 16, 204-209.
METHODS: Prenatally depressed women were randomly assigned to yoga, massage therapy or standard prenatal care control groups to determine the relative effects of yoga and massage therapy on prenatal depression and neonatal outcomes. RESULTS: Following 12 weeks of twice weekly yoga or massage therapy sessions (20 min each) both therapy groups versus the control group had a greater decrease on depression, anxiety, and back and leg pain scales and a greater increase on a relationship scale. In addition, the yoga and massage therapy groups did not differ on neonatal outcomes including gestational age and birthweight, and those groups, in turn, had greater gestational age and birthweight than the control group.

Pre-school Massage

Field, T., Kilmer, T., Hernandez-Reif, M. & Burman, I. (1996). Preschool children's sleep and wake behavior: Effects of massage therapy. Early Child Development and Care, 120, 39-44.

METHODS: Preschool children received 20-minute massages twice a week for five weeks.

RESULTS: The massaged children as compared to children in the wait-list control group had better behavior ratings on state, vocalization, activity and cooperation after the massage sessions on the first and last days of the study. Their behavior was also rated more optimally by their teachers by the end of the study. Also, at the end of the 5 week period parents of the massaged children rated their children as having less touch aversion and being more extraverted. Finally, the massaged children had a shorter latency to naptime sleep by the end of the study.

Hart, S.; Field, T.; Hernandez-Reif, M.; & Lundy, B. (1998). Preschoolers' cognitive performance improves following massage. Early Child Development and Care, 143, 59-64.

METHODS: This study examined the effects of massage therapy on the cognitive performance of preschool students on the Block Design, Animal Pegs, and Mazes subtests of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI) prior to and following a 15-min massage.

RESULTS: Children’s scores on the Block Design test of abstract reasoning improved following massage. Massage was particularly beneficial to children rated as high-strung and anxious.