Benefits & Effects of Massage
In 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 fascia.
• 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 ischemia (ischemia 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 the 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 Psychological 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
Benefits & Effects of Sports Massage
Benefits & Effects
There are three areas where sports massage is used to benefit athletes.
A regular massage treatment programme based on the therapist’s understanding of anatomy and of the muscles used in a given sport and which are likely candidates for trouble. By concentrating on particular muscle groups, the therapist can help the athlete maintain or improve range of motion and muscle flexibility.
Pre-event and post-event massage therapies are tailored for distinct purposes. Pre-event treatment is used as a supplement to an athlete’s warm-up to enhance circulation and reduce excess muscle and mental tension prior to competition. It is tailored to the needs of the athlete and his/her event and can be relaxing or stimulating as appropriate. Post-event massage, on the other hand, is geared towards reducing the muscle spasms and metabolic build-up that occur with rigorous exercise. Various sports massage techniques enhance the body’s own recovery process improving the athlete’s ability to return to training and competition, and reducing the risk of injury.
Even with preventative maintenance, muscles cramp, tear, bruise, and ache. Sports massage can speed healing and reduce discomfort during the rehabilitation process.
• Soft tissue techniques employed by sports massage therapists are effective in the management of both acute and chronic injuries.
• Trigger point techniques reduce the spasm and pain that occur both in the injured and "compensation" muscles.
• Cross-fibre friction techniques can help with healing by improved formation of strong and flexible repair tissue, which is vital in maintaining full pain-free range of motion during rehabilitation.
In all cases, such massage techniques are employed in collaboration with other appropriate medical care.