Benefit and Effects of Massage
In order to understand the benefits and effects of massage, it is important to consider how the body responds physiologically.
Massage involves two types of responses: mechanical response as a result of pressure and movement as the soft tissues are manipulated and reflex response in which the nerves respond to stimulation.
Massage can: help increase joint mobility by reducing any thickening of the connective tissue and helping to release restrictions in the fascia. It helps to free adhesions, break down scar tissue and decrease inflammation. As a result it can help to restore range of motion to stiff joints. Massage improves muscle tone and balance, reducing the physical stress placed on bones and joints. Massage relieves muscular tightness, stiffness, spasms and restriction in the muscle tissue. It increases flexibility in the muscle due to muscular relaxation. It increases blood circulation bringing more oxygen and nutrients into the muscle. This reduces muscle fatigue and soreness. It promotes rapid removal of toxins and waste products from the muscles.
Massage can: Improve circulation be mechanically assisting the venous flow of blood back to the heart, dilate blood vessels helping them to work more efficiently to produce an enhanced blood flow; delivery of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissue is improved and the removal of waste products, toxins and carbon dioxide is hastened via the venous system. Helps temporarily to decrease blood pressure, due to dilation of capillaries decrease the heart rate due to relaxation, and reduce ischemia (ischemia is a reduction in the flow of blood to body parts, often marked by pain and tissue dysfunction).
Massage helps to: reduce edema (excess fluid in the tissue) by increasing lymphatic drainage and the removal of waste from the system. Regular massage may help to strengthen the immune system, due to the increase in white blood cells.
Massage stimulates sensory receptors: this can either stimulate or sooth nerves depending on the techniques used. It also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to promote relaxation and the reduction of stress. Massage helps reduce pain by the release of endorphins (endorphins are also known to elevate the mood).
Massage can bring about: improved circulation to the skin, increase nutrition to the cells and encouraging cell regeneration, increased production of sweat from the sweat glands, helping to excrete urea and waste products through the skin, vaso-dilation of the surface capillaries helping to improve skin’s color, improved elasticity of the skin, increased sebum production, helping to improve the skin’s suppleness and resistance to infection. Massage deepens respiration and improves lung capacity by relaxing any tightness in the respiratory muscles. It also slows down the rate of respiration due to the reduced stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Massage can: increase peristalsis in the large intestines, helping to relieve constipation, colic and gas, promotes the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates digestion. Massage increases urinary output due to the increased circulation and lymph drainage from the tissues.
Massage can help to: reduce stress and anxiety by relaxing both mind and body, creating a feeling of well being and enhanced self-esteem, promotes positive body awareness and an improved body image through relaxation, ease emotional trauma through relaxation.