Job Performance and Massage

Coffee breaks and lunch hours are traditional parts of a work day. In recent years so are fruit days, in house catering services and in some cases, in house exercise rooms – wouldn’t it be nice if massage sessions were too? Perhaps they should be and there is enough research to support it.


  • This research evaluated the efficacy of employer-funded on-site massage therapy on job satisfaction, workplace stress, pain, and discomfort. Twenty-minute massage therapy sessions were provided. Evaluation demonstrated improvements in job satisfaction, with initial benefits in pain severity.
    (Back, C., Tam, H., Lee, E. Haraldsson, B. The Effects of Employer-Provided Massage Therapy on Job Satisfaction, Workplace Stress, and Pain and Discomfort.Holistic Nursing Practice, January/February 2009 – Volume 23 – Issue 1 – p 19-31.) Abstract
  • At the University of Miami’s Touch Research Institute, studies suggest that massage therapy reduces job stress. The purpose of the Job Stress study was to determine whether massage might improve job performance. Twice a week, 26 adults were given 15 minute chair massages in their office, over a period of five weeks.
  • Immediately after the massage sessions, the subjects experienced:

    • A change in brain waves in the direction of heightened alertness
    • Better performance on math problems (completed in less time with fewer errors)
  • At the end of the five week period, subjects reported:

    • Reduced job stress
    • Less depressed mood state
  • In a study on 52 adults, the massage group showed increased relaxation, decreased frontal alpha and beta power (suggesting enhanced alertness),increased speed and accuracy on math computations, decreased anxiety,and, at the end of the 5 week period, depression and job stress scores were lower only for the massage group versus the control group.
    (Cady, S. H., & Jones, G. E. (1997). Massage Therapy as a Workplace Intervention for Reduction of Stress. Perceptual & Motor Skills, 84, 157-158.) Abstract
  • The immediate effects of brief massage therapy, music relaxation with visual imagery, muscle relaxation, and social support group sessions were assessed in 100 hospital employees at a major public hospital. The effects of the therapies were assessed using a within-subjects pre-post test design and by comparisons across groups. The massage groups reported decreased anxiety, depression, fatigue, and confusion, as well as increased vigor following the session.
    (Field, T., Quintino, O., Henteleff, T., Wells-Keife, L. & Delvecchio-Feinberg, G. (1997). Job stress reduction therapies. Alternative Therapies, 3, 54-56.) Abstract
  • Adults were given a chair massage, and control group adults were asked to relax in a chair for 15 minutes, two times a week for five weeks. Frontal delta power increased for both groups, suggesting increased relaxation. The massage group showed decreased alpha and beta power, and increased speed and accuracy on math computations. At the end of the five-week period depression scores were lower for both groups but job stress decreased only for the massage group.
    (Field, T., Ironson, G., Scafidi, F., Nawrocki, T.,Goncalves, A., Burman, I. , Pickens, J., Fox, N., Schanberg, S., & Kuhn, C. (1996). Massage therapy reduces anxiety and enhances EEG pattern of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience, 86, 197-205.) Abstract