Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
No matter which side of the debate you stand, one cannot refute the fact that foot massage carries with it some benefits. These benefits may be as simple and small as general relaxation, but they are benefits all the same. Some even believe that foot massage, when administered by someone with the proper training, can even relieve other ailments, such as poor circulation and fatigue as well as lend a certain sensual benefit to the recipient.
Now, one Michigan State University researcher suggests that foot massage is so powerful, it may even be able to ease the symptoms of breast cancer in women. This MSU study was the first large-scale and random study of reflexology as a compliment to standard cancer treatments and was published in the latest issue of Oncology Nursing Forum.
“It´s always been assumed that it´s a nice comfort measure, but to this point we really have not, in a rigorous way, documented the benefits,” Gwen Wyatt, the lead author in the research, said in a statement. “This is the first step toward moving a complementary therapy from fringe care to mainstream care.”
All puns aside, Reflexology is based on the idea that different points in our feet can trigger different responses in the rest of our body and even improve the functions of some parts of the body.
To conduct this study, Wyatt and team found 385 women with advanced-stage breast cancer who were currently undergoing chemotherapy or hormonal therapy. These women were then split into 3 different groups. The first group of women received a specialized foot massage from a certified reflexologist. The second group of women received a basic foot rub which was meant to act as a sort of placebo, while the third group of women received no sort of foot love and were placed only in the care of standard medical treatment.
Wyatt and team asked these groups of women about their symptoms when they received the massages, then again at 5 and 11 weeks after foot treatment.
The group of women who received the specialized massage reported “significantly less” shortness of breath, a symptom which Wyatt says is common among breast cancer patients. Wyatt also suspects that because these women could breathe more easily, they were also able to perform daily tasks without losing their breath.
Wyatt expressed her surprise that the benefits from this specialized foot massage showed themselves more in the physical sense than the psychological sense.
“We didn´t get the change we might have expected with the emotional symptoms like anxiety and depression,” Wyatt said. “The most significant changes were documented with the physical symptoms.”
Another surprise from the results: Those women who received only placebo foot massages claimed to experience significantly less fatigue after receiving the rub down. The women who received the specialized massage didn´t experience the same results. Based on these results, Wyatt suggests that anyone can rub down a cancer patient as an effective and inexpensive form of therapy to lessen fatigue.
Wyatt also mentions that the reflexology technique didn´t reduce pain or nausea, though the women who received this treatment were already taking medication for these symptoms. Therefore, this part of the study was essentially rendered moot.