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Massage therapy: occasionally slightly helpful

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

When I was a massage therapist — soooo long ago now — I often saw seemingly impressive clinical results.

As I studied the science of massage other hands-on therapies, I eventually realized that I couldn’t take much credit for those results. After subtracting all the confounding factors, delusions and illusions, plus all the genuine perks of a strong “therapeutic alliance,” what was left? What genuine treatment effects, unique to massage?

Those fell well short of “miraculous” and were probably more like, um, “occasionally slightly helpful.” 😕

But that’s not nothing! It really isn’t. And neither are the non-specific effects of any kind of compassionate healthcare.

Massage therapists are often discouraged by my writing, which was never what I wanted, and that is why I now have a short article devoted to reassuring them. *Massage is still a good thing, I pinkie swear.

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