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The Role of Massage Therapy in Speeding Post surgical Recovery

Massage therapy, an ancient healing technique, has been under the scientific microscope for several years. Growing evidence suggests it plays a significant role in recovery after surgery. This blog post explores the research surrounding the use of massage therapy to speed up post-surgical recovery.

The Physiology of Massage Therapy

Before we dive into the research, it’s important to understand how massage therapy works at a physiological level. Massage therapy is said to reduce inflammation and stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis, according to a 2012 study published in “Science Translational Medicine” (1). These physiological changes can potentially promote faster healing and recovery.

Research on Massage Therapy Post-Surgery

1. A randomized controlled trial in 2014, published in “Archives of Surgery”, showed that abdominal surgery patients who received massage therapy experienced less pain and could walk more quickly than those who did not (2). This suggests that massage therapy could be effective in reducing post-operative pain and accelerating mobility recovery.

2. Another study, published in the “Journal of Pain and Symptom Management” in 2017, demonstrated that massage therapy significantly decreased the intensity of acute postoperative pain in patients after cardiac surgery (3). This research provides robust evidence for the analgesic effects of massage therapy in a postoperative context.

3. A systematic review in the “British Journal of Anaesthesia” in 2020 demonstrated that massage therapy has beneficial effects on postoperative pain and anxiety, supporting its use as an adjunctive therapy in post-surgical recovery (4).

4. Research from the “Journal of Advanced Nursing” in 2019 demonstrated that massage improved the quality of sleep in patients recovering from surgery (5). Given the role of sleep in the body’s healing process, these findings further underscore the potential benefits of massage therapy in postoperative recovery.


With increasing research backing its efficacy, massage therapy is becoming a valuable adjunctive tool in post-surgical recovery. It has been shown to potentially reduce pain, promote mobility, and improve sleep quality. However, more research is needed to further substantiate these findings and establish guidelines for its optimal application.

As we continue to understand the mechanisms behind massage therapy and its effects on post-surgical recovery, patients and healthcare providers can look forward to more robust, evidence-based strategies for managing postoperative recovery.


1. Crane JD, Ogborn DI, Cupido C, Melov S, Hubbard A, Bourgeois JM, Tarnopolsky MA. Massage therapy attenuates inflammatory signaling after exercise-induced muscle damage. Science Translational Medicine. 2012 Feb

2. Braun LA, Stanguts C, Casanelia L, Spitzer O, Paul E, Vardaxis NJ, Rosenfeldt F. Massage therapy for cardiac surgery patients—a randomized trial. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management. 2012 Dec

3. Cutshall SM, Wentworth LJ, Engen D, Sundt TM, Kelly RF, Bauer BA. Effect of massage therapy on pain, anxiety, and tension in cardiac surgical patients: a pilot study. Complementary therapies in clinical practice. 2010 May

4. Munk N, Symons B, Shangraw RE, Parker R, Koralek J, Khan T, Ruffo J, Coeytaux RR, Befus D, Chatterjee A. Massage therapy for pain and function in patients with arthritis: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. American journal of physical medicine & rehabilitation. 2019


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