Massage has a huge number of benefits for the different systems within the body.
Relaxing the muscles through therapeutic massage can serve to bring the body into homoeostasis, a place of balance where it can repair and renew.
The Benefits of Massage
Massage offers increased flexibility by stretching, relaxing and encouraging the muscle to return to its’ normal relaxed length.
The Muscular System
The muscles are the primary component within the body to immediately benefit from massage.
Overuse and stress can cause the muscles to stay in a contracted state, causing imbalance in the body. Tight muscles can also pull posture out of alignment and constrict blood flow.
When muscles work, they burn oxygen and glucose and produce lactic acid, which can build up in the muscles and exacerbate pain. Massage therapy plays a key role in burning off waste products like lactic acid from the muscles and reducing pain.
Wear & Tear
Through overuse and wear and tear, microscopic tears occur in the muscle fibres. If left untreated, this will be replaced by inelastic, scar tissue which is very inflexible. Massage has been proven to reduce the formation of adhesions.
Healthy muscles are in a constant state of contraction and relaxation and so with massage we can improve the tone of the inactive or overused muscles.
Increased flexibility, better muscle tone and less waste products serves to reduce the likelihood of muscle cramps.
The Skeletal System
Poor posture will impact on the other systems of the body. For example, rounded shoulders and tight pectorals and a slumped posture will prevent the lungs from expanding fully.
Once the muscles are relaxed and lengthened through effective massage techniques, overall posture will improve.
Massage warms up and releases synovial fluid within the joint making it less viscous and more flexible.
If you experience a poor range of movement within the joints, massage and passive movements can be very effective, creating the conditions for increased mobility going forward.
The Cardio-vascular System
Red Blood Cells
Massage indirectly causes a release of red blood cells from the bone marrow, carrying oxygen around the body and boosting overall health and energy levels.
Massage encourages blood flow to the extremities, organs and superficial blood vessels. Blood must work against gravity to return from the extremities back to the heart. Whenever possible, we massage towards the heart to assist the return of blood carried through the veins.
Tight muscles create a resistance to blood flow, (known as peripheral resistance), which leads to an increase in blood pressure. By relaxing the muscles through massage, it is therefore possible to reduce blood pressure levels.
The Respiratory System
Stress can result in rapid breathing patterns. Massage stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and improves posture, reducing stress through slower and deeper breathing.
The intercostal muscles attached to the ribs when contracted, pull on the ribs and expand the lungs to cause inspiration. We can improve the condition and tone and stimulate these important muscles with massage.
In the lungs and at cellular level throughout the body, there is an exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This improves this gaseous exchange and stimulates the lungs.
The Lymphatic System
Massage assists with the drainage of lymph from the cells to the lymph nodes, improving circulation and the removal of toxins.
Massage boosts immunity by stimulating the production of lymphocytes (antibodies) and the parasympathetic nervous system.
Swelling is described as a pooling of lymph, often resulting from injury or inactivity. Swelling can be reduced by careful effleurage (circular massage movements) directed towards the lymph nodes.
The Nervous System
Touching the skin through massage can have a powerful effect on our psyche, creating a great sense of wellbeing and therefore benefitting our central nervous system.