Effects of Massage on Body Systems:
Massage Therapy affects and benefits the whole body. Body systems are groups of tissues and organs that work together to perform important jobs for our bodies. Here is a list of of the positive physiological Effects of Massage on Body Systems ; The Circulatory System, Nervous System, Musckulo – Skeletal System, Digestive System and the Respiratory System.
Effects of Massage on the Circulatory System
The circulatory system circulates blood around the body through the heart, arteries and veins. This physiological system delivers oxygen and nutrients to organs and cells, and carries their waste products away. Massage affects Venous, Arterial and Lymphatic circulation, all of which are in some way affected by the pumping action of skeletal muscles as they contract and relax. The following lists the benefits and positive effects of massage on the body’s circulatory system:
- Massage mechanically increases venous and lymphatic flow, helping clear metabolic wastes and by-products from tissue damage and inflammation.
- Massage indirectly assists arterial flow for efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery to the body’s tissue cells.
- Stimulation of lymph node activity and release of muscle tension happens during a massage. The muscle tension impairs efficiency of the lymphatics, and a decrease in muscle tension helps our body to work more effectively and efficiently.
- Massage helps in the recruitment of capillary beds in tissue being treated. This in turn increases tissue perfusion and drainage. (Perfusion is the passage of fluid through the circulatory system or lymphatic system to an organ or a tissue, usually referring to the delivery of blood to a capillary bed in tissue.)
- Massage helps release restrictions on circulatory flow. Restrictions include fascial tension, muscle spasms, and restrictive scarring.
- General relaxation and increase of blood flow into peripheral tissues help reduce blood pressure.
- May help prevent or slow the development of varicosities.
- Reduces edema, bruising.
- Reduces congestion and helps normalize circulation in various injury/ disease states.
- Massage induces the parasympathetic response which causes slowing and strengthening of the heart beat. Note: The parasympathetic system (system which massage stimulates) is responsible for the “rest-and-digest” activities that occur when the body is at rest, especially after eating, including salivation, lacrimation (tears), urination, digestion and defecation. The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. It conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.
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Effects of Massage on the Nervous System
The nervous system is a complex network of nerves and cells that carry messages to and from the brain and spinal cord to various parts of the body. The nervous system includes both the Central nervous system and Peripheral nervous system. Our nervous system collects and processes information from the senses via nerves and the brain, and tells the muscles to contract – which causes physical actions. The nerves also innervate (supply an organ or other body part) muscles and gives it tone. The following lists the benefits and positive effects of massage therapy on the body’s nervous system:
- Generalized relaxation response from massage helps reduce strain on the nervous system. The relaxation response include decrease in heart rate and decrease nerve firing.
- Massage helps in the reduction of pain.
- Massage helps increase our parasympathetic response, which may help with insomnia.
- The reduction of fascial and muscular tension as well as reduction of joint stiffness from a massage can release impingement of peripheral nerves.
- Massage also helps reduce musculoskeletal signs and symptoms of various disease states (Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s Disease, Buergers Disease, and other hyper/ hypotonicity syndromes and disease states).
- Massage helps reduce the body’s time spent in “sympathetic overdrive”. Note: The body’s sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight” response. It is activated when our body perceives stress. It reduces blood flow to the brain, extremities, and digestive organs in preparation for a perceived survival situation. When a person is constantly stressed, their nervous system can be tilted into the state of sympathetic overdrive. If this only happens occasionally, the system usually has the resilience to recover. However, if the body is in a state of sympathetic overdrive, elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, can lead to further damage to these tissues.
Effects of Massage on the Musculoskeletal System
The musculo skeletal system includes our body’s bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, ligaments, connective tissue and joints. This physiological system provides form, support, stability, and and allows our bodies to move on command (our muscles contract to move the bone attached at the joint). The following lists the benefits and positive effects of massage on the musculoskeletal body system:
- Massage helps in enhancing circulation to and from the muscles, thereby increasing their nutrient supply and reducing waste product accumulation.
- Massage helps improve blood supply to joints and promotes of succussive action in joint related cartilage (lubrication for joints).
- Any increase in circulatory efficiency will help bone to heal (indirect effect of massage).
- During the massage, application of transverse and longitudinal stretch to soft tissue structures promotes proper fiber alignment in healing soft tissues (especially tendons and ligaments).
- Massage helps in stretching and realignment of scar tissue.
- Massage helps reduce adhesions (knots) in the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
- Massage maintains and improves the of range of motion of the joints (passive rom techniques in massage).
- Massage helps address compensatory changes in injury situations. This help re-balance the body’s muscle groups.
- Massage helps promote better posture.
- Promotion of exercise, stretching and self care creates positive body awareness. Massage therapists advise patients on how to improve their condition by recommending stretching and strengthening exercises).
- Massage helps eliminate trigger points (also known as trigger sites or muscle knots. These are described as hyperirritable spots in skeletal muscle that are associated with palpable nodules in taut bands of muscle fibers).
- Massage helps in recovering from peripheral nerve lesions by encouraging blood flow to denervated tissue areas.
- Massage generates overall relaxation and sense of well-being, which results in decreased muscle tension (increased parasympathetic response).
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Effects of Massage on the Digestive System
The digestive system is responsible for the mechanical and chemical processes that provide nutrients via the mouth, esophagus, stomach and intestines. When ingesting food, this system breaks it down into usable nutrients. It is also responsible for eliminating waste from the body. The following lists the benefits and positive effects of massage on body’s the digestive system:
- Massage helps in the reflex stimulation of peristalsis (peristalsis is the series of muscle contractions that occur in the digestive tract ).
- Massage helps in the induction of the parasympathetic state, which stimulates the digestive tract activity (Rest and Digest).
- Mobilization of joints and decreasing muscle tension related to the lower thoracic and lumbar spine from a massage, helps facilitate nerve feed to the various digestive organs.
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Effects of Massage on the Respiratory System
The respiratory system is a biological system consisting of a series of organs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide. The primary organs of the respiratory system are lungs, which carry out this exchange of gases as we breathe. When we breathe, our lungs filter in the oxygen and pass it through our bloodstream where it is carried into the tissues and organs. Our lungs also take out the carbon dioxide from our blood and release it into the air when we breathe out. The following lists the benefits of massage on the respiratory system:
- Relaxation of diaphragm tension and encouragement of deeper breathing in massage improve diaphragm function. This promotes gaseous exchange in the alveoli/ capillary beds.
- Massage therapy work adjacent to the thoracic spine improves nerve feed to the lungs and related tissue.
- Massage helps reduce tension in the muscles that support breathing. It lessens the hypertonicity and trigger points in the intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs), scalenes, pectoralis and serratus anterior as well as back muscles increases rib cage mobility.
- Massage helps increase metabolism in the lungs.
- Induction of parasympathetic response due to massage, produces deeper, more efficient breathing. This also decreases the symptoms of some respiratory tract diseases such as asthma.