Effects of Massage
article about the positive effects that massage can have on your body
and how it can aid various body functions.
All cells in the body need a good supply of blood for growth, repair,
nutrition and the removal of waste products. Stroking techniques of
massage stimulate this, aiding circulation as well as being beneficial
to the local tissue area. In this way massage can improve recovery and
be good for your health.
The blood is pumped from the heart through arteries, growing ever
smaller and smaller to become tiny arterioles on a cellular level. It
is then drawn back towards the heart through veins which begin as tiny
capillaries merging with the arterioles, increasing in size as they get
nearer in their journey to the heart. Blood flows can slow in limbs as
the pressure of the blood is weaker therefore it is important to
enhance some circulatory processes with massage.
It is necessary when using massage to apply pressure using long strokes
in the same direction as the venous return (towards the heart).
Pressure strokes shouldn't be applied in the opposite direction as this
would push blood against the direction of flow causing damage to vessel
Massage can be useful for blood flow on a smaller level. As massage
strokes force blood through capillaries and arterioles it can have a
stretching effect on vessel walls keeping it soft and pliable. This can
help to increase their size, capacity and function.
Lymphatic vessels aren't part of the circulatory system as they begin
at a cellular level and travel in one direction (towards the heart).
Their purpose is to absorb excess interstitial fluid and return it via
lymph nodes to the heart. This filters out waste and toxins. The
demands on the lymph system are therefore greatest after injury, hard
exercise or other medical conditions.
As the lymph system isn't part of the circulatory system they have no
intrinsic pressure moving them and instead rely on muscle contraction
(which is often limited when following an injury) and gravity
can have negative effects especially for the lower leg.
The movement and containment of bodily fluids is controlled by various
tissues, having tiny pores to allow certain chemicals to pass and
others held back. However if the structures become fibrous many pores
may close and the interstitial fluids will suffer. Massage aids this by
forcing the fluids through these tissues with strong strokes, opening
pores and improving flow.
With tissue damage, bleeding will take place which eventually results
in scar tissue. This is important in the initial healing process but if
too much bleeding occurs, excessive scar tissue forms, inflaming the
area and can become hard. In extreme cases scar tissue has known to
become as hard as bone and in this case surgery is the only answer.
To prevent excess scar tissue, friction massage
techniques aim to
prevent its formation by stopping the cells binding unnaturally
together. Friction massage can also work on already formed scar tissue
to break it down into smaller pieces (here it is digested by phagocyte
cells and absorbed by the lymph system).
Adhesions and fibrous tissues
This is the real problem in tissue function. When adhesions and fibrous
tissues form created by scar tissue, the tissues bind together and
restricts muscle movement. Muscles need to be able to glide smoothly
over each other in order to function properly and with adhesions, this
Even non-contractile tissues can be affected by fibrous adhesions as
well as in different structures such as ligaments, tendons and bones
leading to severely restricted movement and function.
Transverse strokes and friction massage techniques can break down the
adhesions by literally tearing the bonds apart. Once they are separate
they can repair properly and will be able to function again. The
massage process can however be understandably painful but there is no
real damage done as adhesions themselves contain no blood vessels.
Friction massage can also help loosen knotted muscles and allow blood
to flow more easily through it, stimulating healing.
Massage can also stretch more specific locations of tissue in a way
that may not be possible with function exercise and stretching.
Regardless of the functional range, deep longitudinal strokes can
stretch tissues, drawing them apart and moving them in all directions.
This gives patients a great range of movement which is especially
important for athletes.
Massage can also affect the nervous system. It stimulates nerve
receptors in tissues which control tissue tension. Mechano-receptor
nerves respond to touch, pressure and warmth so are also stimulated.
This can have a reflex affect, cause relaxation of the tissues and
reduce pain. The fact that muscular tension and the nervous system are
so inextricably linked is why non-physical stress (emotional) can
create physical symptoms.
By releasing tension massage can restore the balance and stimulate the
parasympathetic system having a positive effect on both minor and major
conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia and
Carter is a fully trained fitness and life coach. Visit
website at http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk