Objectives: The objective of this study was to determine the change in blood pressure (BP) in normotensive and prehypertensive adults resulting from a therapeutic massage, and the factors associated with such changes, including demographic and massage characteristics.
Settings/location: National University of Health Sciences Massage Therapy Clinic, Lombard, IL.
Subjects: The subjects were 150 current adult massage therapy clients with BP lower than 150/95.
Interventions: BP was measured before and after a therapeutic massage.
Outcome measures: Change in BP and potential associated factors such as type of massage, duration of massage, specific body area massaged, amount of massage pressure, and demographic characteristics were studied.
Results: Overall, systolic BP decreased by 1.8 mm Hg and diastolic BP increased by 0.1 mm Hg. Demographic factors associated with BP decrease included younger age (p = 0.01) and taller stature (p = 0.09). Type of massage was associated with change in BP: Swedish massage had the greatest effect at BP reduction. Trigger point therapy and sports massage both increased the systolic BP, and if both forms of massage were included in a session, both the systolic and diastolic BP readings significantly increased. No other massage factors were associated with a significant change in BP.
Conclusions: Type of massage was the main factor affecting change in BP. Increases in BP were noted for potentially painful massage techniques, including trigger point therapy.