Oncology massage and mindfulness meditation both have many benefits, so why not use them together? Why not indeed?
Massage, the direct manipulation of the body’s soft tissues, and mindfulness, a meditative practice that encourages ‘presence in the moment,’ can both improve sleep, reduce fatigue, anxiety, and pain, and generally improve quality of life. Both can also help with even the notoriously difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain. In fact, massage and meditation actually work together to enhance each other’s effects!
Oncology Massage and Mindfulness Meditation Together
… is a marriage made in heaven! No, really.
Massages use stroking, kneading, tapping or pressing on various key parts of the body in order to release tension and improve blood flow. This can relieve pressure on the nerves, relieve pain, and affect how medicines work. And, almost most importantly, massage can be profoundly relaxing – the benefits of relaxing cannot be overstated!
However, massage is only as effective as the mindset of the person being treated – this is where mindfulness steps in. Mindfulness meditation, when done during massage, reduces stress even more and enhances both the relaxation aspect and the pain relief aspect.
This is because oncology massage and mindfulness meditation are doing similar things to the body and mind. They work together to help turn down the thoughts and give the brain a rest. In our distraction-filled, fast-paced, anxiety-rich world, it can be difficult to turn off one’s thoughts and let go – mindfulness can help with this, making the most of the massage experience. For intensive massages, this can help alleviate the pain of the massage and allow patients to tolerate more massage in their problem areas.
Both oncology massage and mindfulness meditation not only improve mood through relaxation, but also make it easier to focus, learn, and retain information. Studies on various groups of people, from students to office workers to people with chronic illnesses report that mindfulness meditation and massage improve energy levels, reduce fatigue, and lead to overall positive moods. Emotions such as depression, anger, and anxiety are less intense and easier to control.
When oncology massage and mindfulness meditation are used together, these mental health benefits only increase. In particular, mindfulness has also been used to help people with ADHD improve their ability to focus, and might also be helpful for getting through “brain fog,” a common side effect of chemotherapy.
But that’s not all! There is evidence that the benefits from massage can last weeks beyond the actual massage itself, and mindfulness makes it last even longer – up to a month or more after the initial session!
The Benefits of Oncology Massage and Mindfulness Meditation During Cancer Treatment
These are great results for two therapies that are very easy to do at the same time. You can even do both while also receiving chemotherapy treatment – if, of course, your hospital allows oncology massages. Massage during treatment eases the stress, pain, and fatigue from the chemo treatment. Mindfulness meditation can be done anywhere that one can get a few minutes to oneself and close one’s eyes.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction is very helpful for improving mental health in cancer patients. Even if mindfulness does not directly affect physical health – which is tricky to measure, it reduces stress and potentially makes it easier to keep up with medication or dietary regimens, which improves physical health.
It’s also much easier to get treatment if the pain is reduced and the treatment is associated with something pleasant like massage. When done properly there are few to no downsides to oncology massage, and none for mindfulness meditation – just be sure to pick a trained and qualified therapist
Rochelle is well trained in handling the unique needs of oncology care and can help you integrate these alternative therapies into your life.
Related articles that you might be interested in: Oncology Massage During Cancer Treatment and The Healing Power of Mindfulness For Cancer Patients.
Oncology Massage and Mindfulness Meditation References
Lopez, G., Eng, C., Overman, M. et al. A randomized pilot study of oncology massage to treat chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy., Sci Rep 12, 19023 (2022)|https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-23372-w Massage and cancer. Massage therapy, Complementary and Alternative Therapies, Cancer Research UK. (2022, September 6). Retrieved December 18, 2022, from https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatme nt/complementary-alternative-therapies/individual-therapies/massage
Weinberg R, et al. The Relationship of Massage and Exercise to Mood Enhancement, Sports Psychologist, Volume 2 Issue 3, pg202-211, doi: https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/tsp/2/3/article-p202.xml Mao J.J., Et al., Integrating Oncology Massage IntoChemoinfusion Suites: A Program Evaluation, Journal of Oncology Practice 13, no. 3 (March 01, 2017) e207-e216. Published online January 03, 2017.DOI: 10.1200/JOP.2016.015081
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