Approximately 30,000 children and adults in the United States have cystic fibrosis, a debilitating condition that affects breathing. According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, cystic fibrosis (CF) is caused by a defective gene which causes the body to produce abnormally thick mucus which  builds up in the breathing passages of the lungs and in the pancreas. This collection of sticky mucus results in lung infections and serious digestion problems.

Losing the capacity to breathe normally is both life-threatening as well as mental strain on someone’s quality of life. Administering additional oxygen is a standard treatment for people with chronic lung diseases. Massage directly affects respiration, so there is reason to believe that massage therapy could help CF sufferers.

Massage therapist Peter Iocovello of Broxville Wellness Sanctuary in Bronxville, NY speaks of his experience helping a patient with CF.

“I was able to help her dramatically improve her ability to breathe by massaging the muscles of the respiratory system. By focusing on specific muscles, I decreased the amount of scar tissue which had developed from several surgeries. Within just a few months, my client was able to realize her dream of running 5 miles without gasping for air. It was truly remarkable and humbling.”

Massage helps to reduce anxiety levels, positively affect mood, and in turn may enable proper breathing. Even if breathing is affected, dealing with a physically exhausting disease warrants the need for relaxation to increase feelings of comfort and well-being. There is no cure for CF and massage does not replace medical treatment, but with a doctor’s supervision it may complement the life of a CF sufferer.