Effects of Massage
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- Massage is known to increase the circulation of blood and lymph flow. The direct mechanical effect of rhythmically applied manual pressure and movement used in massage can dramatically increase the rate of blood flow.
- Massage causes stimulation of nerve receptors which causes the blood vessels (by reflex action) to dilate, which also facilitates blood flow.
- Massage causes changes in the blood. The oxygen capacity of the blood can increase 10–15% after massage.
- Massage can help loosen contracted, shortened muscles and can stimulate weak, flaccid muscles. This muscle “Balancing” can help posture and promote more efficient movement.
- Massage does not directly increase muscle strength, but it can speed recovery from the fatigue that occurs after exercise. In this way, it can be possible to do more exercise and training, which in the long run strengthens muscles and improves conditioning.
- Massage also provides a gentle stretching action to both the muscles and connective tissues that surround and support the muscles and many other parts of the body, which helps keep these tissues elastic.
- Massage increases the body’s secretions and excretions. There is increase in the production of gastric juices, saliva, and urine. There is also increased excretion of nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus, and sodium chloride (salt). This suggests that the metabolic rate (the utilization of absorbed material by the body’s cells) increases.
- Massage balances the nervous system by soothing or stimulating it, depending on which effect is needed by the individual at the time of the massage.
- Massage enhances skin condition. Massage directly improves the function of the sebaceous (oil) and sweat glands which keep the skin lubricated, clean, cooled, tough, inflexible skin can become softer and more supple.
- Massage affects internal organs by directly or indirectly stimulating nerves that supply internal organs, blood vessels of these organs dilate and allow greater blood supply to them.
- Massage acts to disperse the accumulated by products of muscle action that irritate muscles and nerve endings. Lactic and carbonic acids build up in muscle tissue shortly after exercise begins. These acids are waste products that contribute to causation of the pain and occasional cramping that exercisers, athletes, dancers, etc. suffer during and/or after workouts or performing. These acids are formed when the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles is burned to produce the energy expended during exercise. The acids must eventually be reconverted to glycogen and stored again, or drained out via the lymph and circulatory systems. Massage can help eliminate the irritation caused by these wastes, thus increasing muscle recovery rates.
- Joints are critical to exercise because joints are moved by the muscles to produce movement. All joints are complicated, and their parts have a way of settling and stiffening when not used. A numb feeling in the joints discourages exercise. A massage therapist counteracts this by using massage strokes and passive movement to release the muscle tension and free the connective tissue found around the joints that can bind the joints.
- Massage also aids recovery from soft tissue injuries such as sprains and strains. This is possible because the growth and repair of tissue are accelerated by efficient circulation in the injured areas and appropriate stimulation of the healing tissues. Many soft tissue injuries are not serious enough to cause one to visit a doctor or hospital for treatment, or are only treated with some first–aid, but still cause some discomfort and disability. Massage therapy can often help speed and improve recovery and reduce discomfort from such mishaps. In this way, massage helps bridge the gap between common neglect of injury and major medical intervention.
- Massage has a definite psychological effect by loosening of ‘Muscle tension’ the physical counterpart to how we defend and protect ourselves from psychological pain can lead to freeing of repressed emotions.
- Users of massage therapy as a healing tool quickly realize that they have found a form of drugless therapy. Headaches, insomnia, digestive disorders including constipation, arthritis, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, sinusitis, and minor aches and pains are some of the problems that can respond to massage therapy.
To enjoy the benefits of massage which have been discussed, it is best to receive a therapeutic massage from a practitioner who has blended a thorough knowledge of anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and massage technique with a sensitive, powerful touch and the healing sense.
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