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Would returning soldiers be less likely to suffer post traumatic stress disorder if they got regular massage on return or even in the field?  Before they had a chance for the brain  to LTP (long term potetiate) the memories/atrocities of war leading to mental illness. 

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I would certainly think it would help!  I know that some folks in the Myofascial Release community here in the States are working with returning soldiers to help with PTSD.  And the Upledger CST therapists are doing some small studies.  One of my friends who is an MT is doing Float CST sessions with vets in the water off the coast of Florida!  I know this is not a scientific answer but I wanted to share my thoughts.

I don't think we can even try to understand what mental stress these soldier have been under. When that's said so every masseur who master the process to loosen and control the process of feeling related muscle tensions can do a lot to help. But you must take into consideration that in a PST you also have changed hormone levels in the body and then what can massage do there??!! We need further studies before we can say more as I see it!

martin, denmark (home page in Danish!!!)

I guess I had mainly thought of PTSD in terms given above, but its happening here too.                  Ive learned Associative Awareness Technique that  deals with Post traumatic stress disorder...But have only used it on a few clients...Never on an veteran  though....I personally don't think it or massage would help in the field though.  


There's some evidence about massage and PTSD and other similar conditions, though it's not directly related to soldiers:

When immediate danger of the field is passed, massage/cst/bodywork may be indicated to soothe and heal. I have come to believe that bodywork is essential to healing and restoring the healthy responsiveness of the autonomic nervous system. I keep in mind that the vets who fair worse from the traumas of war are frequently those with a history of unaddressed, unhealed trauma. While I have worked with many traumatized clients, not necessarily vets, I have only one case to reference when I say that it took long-term cognitive therapy and patient,sensitive bodywork therapy to go from clinical PTSD to healthy thriving. In my experience and study, it seems that few clients/patients will commit resources or trust to the long-haul of the process. Dual diagnosis is frequently involved as traumatized people, understandably, tend to self-medicate in order to cope. Anti-psychotic prescription drugs are controversial, proving to be unpredictable and in some cases counter-productive and dangerous. I understand Active Addiction to contra-indicate bodywork. I prefer working with those who are actively engaged in a process of cognitive therapy, AA, NA etc. Blessings to all the Healing Warriors out there who take on the acute and tougher cases.

British Nurses during WWII were required to go thru 75 hours of massage therapy training. It was shown at that time to reduce "Battlefield Fatigue" known as PTSD today, so that soldiers could return to combat faster. The Romans practiced massage therapy on their gladiators and soldiers on a regular basis according to research I have done on the issue! I performed massage on soldiers as well as civilians from Aug 2005-Sept2006 while serving in Iraq. There were some amazing results, short term. However I don't think that it completely heals the trauma experienced in war! Just speaking for myself! The body and mind during this year or two or three due to multiple deployments is in a constant state of fight/flight response, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for an entire year or longer. You may want to also take caution! Example: veteran falls asleep during the massage, you are massaging the neck or arm, they wake up thinking they are back in a combat zone! It can be an ugly experience if you aren't prepared for it. Unfortunately I have known a few therapists that have attempted to work with veterans that weren't prepared for the intensity of the emotions that were brought to the surface and gave up. I think they would have loved the work if they had prepared a little more.

I do commend anyone that tries to help the veterans! I can assure you and anyone else that it is needed! Sometimes, just knowing that someone cares enough about their well being can have as good of an impact as the massage itself.

We just published an article on PTSD and bodywork in the most recent issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine:

"PTSD is Not Just Everyday Stress"

I have several veteran clients (2 with diagnosed PTSD) and my husband (also a veteran with PTSD), who have reported to me that massage has been extremely helpful in their healing process. Some of the benefits they have reported to me are that massage helps them sleep better, decreases anxiety, pain, muscle tension, and headaches. PTSD sufferers are often in a constant state of arousal and massage seems to allow them to relax and give their body and mind a break. I would love to see more studies done on the effectiveness of massage on veterans with PTSD and their treatment, and on veterans in the field for possible PTSD prevention. 

I volunteer with an organization called Cause and work with wounded warriors with PSTD and TBIs at Ft Belvoir.  They have links to some articles about massage, reiki and reflexology on their site ( They also list the locations where they have the clinics so if you're near one of the sites, look into volunteering!

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