PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF MASSAGE
The joints / skeletal system:
Massage can help to increase joint mobility by stimulating the formation of synovial fluid. 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.
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 relieves muscle fatigue and soreness by improving circulation, bringing nutrients and oxygen and removing toxins and waste products from the tissue.
The cardiovascular system:
Massage improves blood circulation by mechanically assisting the venous flow of blood back to the heart. Massage can dilate blood vessels helping them to work more efficiently. Due to increased 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. Massage can temporarily help to lower blood pressure, due to dilation of capillaries and the decreased heart rate due to relaxation.
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.
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 and elevate the mood by the release of endorphins.
Massage improves the circulation to the skin, increasing nutrition to the cells and encouraging cell regeneration. Increased production of sweat from the sweat glands helps to eliminate waste products through the skin. Vaso-dilation of the surface capillaries helping to improve the skin’s colour. Massage improves elasticity of the skin. Increased sebum production helps to improve the skin’s suppleness and resistance to infection.
The respiratory system:
Massage induces deep breathing. It also slows down the rate of respiration due to the reduced stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system Massage helps in moving phlegm up the respiratory tract and helps to clear nasal passages.
The digestive system:
Increased peristalsis in the large intestine helps to relieve constipation, colic and gas. Massage promotes the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which stimulates digestion.
The genito-urinary system:
Massage increases urinary output due to the increased circulation and lymph drainage from the tissues, helping to remove waste and toxins from the body. The womb being a muscle, massage may assist in the menstrual cycle by helping decongestion of blood.