Massage Therapy in the Workplace

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According to Statistics Canada, more than 1 in 4 Canadians report experiencing high to severe levels of stress daily. Because we all know how uncomfortable it is to live in a stressful state, reducing stress is a natural priority. The Institute for Stress and Wellbeing Research at Ryerson University in Toronto says stress is linked to almost all physical and psychological disease known to humankind including hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, and is also linked to increases in smoking, sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety. Whether caused on the job or not all of this stress comes at a great cost for employers through decreased productivity, absenteeism, accidents, employee turnover, and illness. While the Canadian Government spends $12 billion per year on workplace stress related costs, industries are losing 10% of their annual profit to employee stress.  The costs are rising: between 1995 and 2004 stress-related absences increased by 316%.

So it seems it’s in everyone’s best interest to focus on decreasing the stress in their lives. Several studies over the years have pointed to massage therapy’s ability to reduce stress and promote positive health and wellbeing. A study published in the journal Autonomic Neuroscience: Basic and Clinical done at Umea University in Sweden was able to uncover massage therapy’s stress reducing abilities as well as discover the neurological mechanism of relaxation experienced due to massage. They discovered that a reduced heart rate is a major factor in the resulting relaxation and that the changes lasted long after the treatment ended.

Many workplaces have already discovered the benefits of offering massage therapy at the office. An article in the Financial Times from 1992 claimed a company in Ontario saw a 25% decrease in work-related injuries and a $200,000 annual decrease in compensation claims after offering a massage therapy program at work. Research from The International Journal of Neuroscience published in 1996 found chair massage was able to increase alertness and decrease anxiety levels, depression, and job stress. Employers providing on-site massage have noted their employees see the service as a bonus and feel more appreciated at work. The research and experience is clear: massage therapy in the workplace is a benefit to both employee and employer.

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