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Benefits & Effects of Massage

!n 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 responses as a result of pressure and movement as the soft tissues are manipulated
  • reflex responses in which the nerves respond to stimulation.

The Physiological Effects of Massage

Effects on the Skeletal System

  • Massage can help increase joint mobility by reducing any thickening of the connective tissue and helping to release restrictions in the facia.
  • 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.

Effects on the Muscular System

  • Massage relieves muscular tightness, stiffness, spasms and restrictions in the muscle tissue.
  • It increases flexibility in the muscles 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 muscle.

Effects on the Cardiovascular System

Massage can:

  • improve circulation by mechanically assisting the venous flow of blood back to the heart
  • dilate blood vessels helping them to work more efficiently
  • produce an enhanced blood flow; delivery of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the tissues is improved and the removal of waste products, toxins and carbon dioxide is hastened via the venous system
  • help temporarily to decrease blood pressure, due to dilation of capillaries
  • decrease the heart rate due to relaxation
  • reduce ischaemia (ischaemia is a reduction in the flow of blood to body parts, often marked by pain and tissue dysfunction).

Effects on the Lymphatic System

Massage helps to:

  • reduce oedema (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 increase in white blood cells.

Effects on the Nervous System

  • Massage stimulates sensory receptors: this can either stimulate or soothe nerves depending on the techniques used.
  • It also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping promote relaxation and the reduction of stress.
  • Massage helps to reduce pain by the release of endorphins (endorphins are also known to elevate the mood).

Effects on the Skin

Massage can bring about:

  • improved circulation to the skin, increased 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 the skin’s colour
  • improved elasticity of the skin
  • increased sebum production, helping to improve the skin’s suppleness and resistance to infection.

Effects on the Respiratory System

  • 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

Effects on the Digestive System

Massage can:

  • increase peristalsis in the large intestine, helping to relieve constipation, colic and gas
  • promote the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates digestion.

Effects on the Urinary System

  • Massage increases urinary output due to the increased circulation and lymph drainage from the tissues.

The Physiological Effects of Massage

Massage can help to:

  • reduce stress and anxiety by relaxing both mind and body
  • create a feeling of well-being and enhanced self-esteem
  • promote positive body awareness and an improved body image through relaxation
  • ease emotional trauma through relaxation

 

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