Benefits of Massage, System by System
The benefits of regular therapeutic massage treatments are many. The info below outlines the physiological benefits of massage on each system of the body:
Benefits of massage on the Integumentary System (skin)
- Aids in vitality and elasticity of skin;
- Aids in elimination of dead cells;
- Send messages to the brain through sensory receptors in skin to aid in relaxation of entire body;
- Through this system trust is established if healing is to take place both physically and psychologically.
Benefits of massage on the Skeletal System
- Increases blood circulation which nourishes skeletal cells;
- Improves muscular balance and thus skeleton alignment (contracted muscles can pull bones out of alignment);
- Exercises joints through range of motion – Joints are nourished by join fluid which is moved and circulated by massage;
- Can aid circulation in area of a fracture without producing motion in the fragments – Also aids in healing of surrounding affected tissue;
- Can aid functional efficiency in terms of structural support / posture – Massage can be a first step in the process of postural awareness (less energy used to maintain efficient posture);
- Can prevent adhesions from forming and can break down adhesions – These adhesions can form between ligaments and bones, can alter a joint and limit range of motion – Adhesions can form reparative tissue, but not flexible, and massage can create a mobile scar.
Benefits of massage on the Muscular System
- Increases blood and nutrition without adding to the load of lactic acid (lactic acid forms in muscles as a result of muscular activity and too much can result in muscular fatigue and/or cramps);
- Actually decreases lactic acid, causing muscles fatigued by this to be restored sooner;
- Lessens amount of fibrosis or adhesions which develop in immobilized or injured muscles – Creates a mobile scar and helps restore muscles to original condition after injury;
- Can cause relaxation of voluntary muscles;
- Can break up adhesions and scar tissue;
- Relaxes muscle spasms (sudden involuntary muscle contractions) and relieves tension in the muscles;
- Aids structural alignment by relaxing over-contracted muscles which can put bones out of balance.
Benefits of massage on the Nervous System
- Brings about invigorating effects to the entire nervous system due to improved circulation and nutrition;
- Can relax or stimulate nerves, depending on the type of treatment;
- Has a biofeedback effect from the body to the mind – gives the mind more information as to where tension is being held in the body;
- Has a normalizing effect on the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the Automatic Nervous System (ANS), which is the portion that functions without conscious effort, thereby reducing the false stress reflex;
- Releases spasms of tissue surrounding the spinal cord which can take the strain off nerves;
- Possibly effects coordination centers through massage of the head and face;
- Can be effective in pain control by effecting the release of secretions, such as endorphins.
Benefits of massage on the Circulatory System
- Stimulates circulation in tissues involved and promotes substance exchange between the cells;
- Aids in reducing the venous fluid back toward the heart;
- Dilates blood vessels which can decrease blood pressure;
- Causes contractions of the heart to be more forceful and complete;
- Stimulates blood through the heart faster, thereby getting blood and nutrients to the cells faster;
- Has a normalizing effect on the ANS, which is beneficial to the heart;
- Improves general circulation, as blood passes more rapidly through tissue being massaged.
Benefits of massage on the Lymphatic System
- Assists flow of lymph throughout the body, thereby assisting the immune system to prevent disease;
- Aids in reducing edema;
- In chronic inflammatory conditions in which fibrosis (scar tissue) is sure to advance if tissue fluid and lymph remain stagnant, massage is important in moving lymph and fluid.
Benefits of massage on the Digestive System
- Indirectly normalizes digestive functions through normalizing the ANS;
- Improves tone of large and small intestines;
- Stimulates peristalsis, which can aid in relief of constipation and/or diarrhea;
- Has a stimulating effect on the digestive organs, which helps improve digestion;
- Improves mixing actions;
- By stimulating the small intestines, massage can aid in the absorption of fat.
Benefits of massage on the Endocrine System
- Increases general circulation in endocrine system and thus helps in transport of hormones;
- Indirectly aids immune system, as some hormones produce lymphocytes to aid in immunization;
- Normalizes endocrine activity through balancing effect on ANS.
Benefits of massage on the Respiratory System
- Normalizing breathing through balancing effect on ANS;
- Encourages deeper breathing and a more complete breath through relaxing effect of massage;
- Can loosen intercostal muscles and free rib cage to allow greater chest expansion, thereby deeper breathing, thereby more oxygen to all cells;
- Can release congestion and aid in lowering blood pressure;
- Generates heat to raise temperature and respiratory rate;
- Stimulates proprioceptors in the joints and increases respiration through ROM in an inactive person.
Experts estimate that upwards of 90% of disease is stress-related. And perhaps nothing ages us faster, internally and externally, than high stress. Massage is an effective tool for managing this stress, which translates into:
- Decreased anxiety.
- Enhanced sleep quality.
- Greater energy.
- Improved concentration.
- Increased circulation.
- Reduced fatigue.
Massage can also help specifically address a number of health issues. Bodywork can:
- Alleviate low-back pain and improve range of motion.
- Ease medication dependence.
- Enhance immunity by stimulating lymph flow—the body’s natural defense system.
- Exercise and stretch weak, tight, or atrophied muscles.
- Help athletes of any level prepare for, and recover from, strenuous workouts.
- Improve the condition of the body’s largest organ—the skin.
- Increase joint flexibility.
- Lessen depression and anxiety.
- Promote tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and stretch marks.
- Pump oxygen and nutrients into tissues and vital organs, improving circulation.
- Reduce postsurgery adhesions and swelling.
- Reduce spasms andcramping.
- Relax and soften injured, tired, and overused muscles.
- Release endorphins—amino acids that work as the body’s natural painkiller.
- Relieve migraine pain