For the past 20 years, there have been studies linking massage to improved brainpower and productivity. That may explain why roughly 11% companies offered workplace massages to employees in 2015 and 3% of companies planned to add corporate massage in the next 12 months, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management.
Lower back pain is one of the most frequent causes of absenteeism and workers' compensation claims. Massage therapy appears to provide pain relief. In one study, 24 adults with chronic lower back pain were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a progressive muscle relaxation group (Hernandez-Reif, Field, Krasnegor, et al. 1998). Sessions were 30 minutes long and were conducted twice a week for five weeks. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group showed significant improvement in range-of-motion tests, and they reported less pain and anxiety and improved mood.
Fifteen-minute massages significantly lowered blood pressure in 52 participants monitored before and after the massage sessions at work (Cady & Jones, 1997). Both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were decreased. In a group of chronically high blood pressure participants, massage therapy reduced only diastolic blood pressure (Hernandez-Reif et al., 1998). The mechanism for these decreases is not known and highlights the need for further study.
Massage therapy versus relaxation therapy with chronic low back pain patients was evaluated for reducing pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances, for improving trunk range of motion (ROM) and for reducing job absenteeism and increasing job productivity. Thirty adults with low back pain with a duration of at least 6 months pain participated in the study. On the first and last day of the 5-week study participants completed questionnaires and were assessed for ROM. By the end of the study, the massage therapy group, as compared to the relaxation group, reported less pain, depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance. They also showed improved trunk and pain flexion performance.