Most people know that Massage Therapy is one of the most pleasant tools or treatments available to achieve a state of relaxation and to relieve aches and pains. But what’s less well known is that the medical literature also points to other important and valuable benefits that can come from a regular massage.
Yes that’s right – usually massage articles focus on the analgesic and anti-stress benefits, like reducing pain, relaxing muscles and improving sleep patterns. But massage can also benefit our cardiovascular system, bowel movements, skin condition, hormonal response and even the urinary system. Read on to find out more….
1. Cardiovascular System
Massage can remove toxins, improving the availability of oxygen and nutrients to the massaged area. Depending on the type of stroke used, massage can improve blood flow in superficial and deep tissues, facilitating the lymph flow as well. Blood flow can also be increased reflexively in areas away from massage site, for example in the limb opposite the one being massaged.
Massage can affect blood viscosity as well, with the interstitial fluid being moved to the vessels, diluting the blood and reducing the incidence of deep vein thrombosis. Massage can reduce heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (through vasodilatation). And finally, massage can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, decreasing the heart rate and helping with hypertension.
2. Bowel Movements
Massage applied to the abdominal area, in a clockwise direction can promote regular bowel movements and can help the digestion process and relieve constipation. Massage primarily affects the viscera through somatovisceral reflex and is extremely useful in elderly, people with movement restriction or bedridden people. Abdominal massage help relieve intestinal colic, biliary colic and flatulence.
Regular bowel movements and a good digestive tract help us to balance our entire body, as the intestinal area is crucial to immunity, hormonal regulation and nutrition absorption.
3. Skin Condition
Massage has the ability to mechanically change the texture and consistency of the skin. With a regular treatment, as the blood flow is increased, this brings nutrients and oxygen, and so the skin can become more resilient, flexible and elastic.
The manipulation of the skin can realign collagen fibres in the dermis and improve scar appearance and so it can play a valuable role in post surgery healing. For example, after mastectomy, the scar tissue can reduce the range of motion of the arm if the tissue is not treated properly.
4. Hormonal Response
One of the biggest benefits of massage is related to stress control. The soothing touch can help to modulate hormonal responses, especially the ‘fight or flight’ reaction that occurs with stress. Studies have shown that massage can decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increase dopamine and serotonin (‘feel good’ or happiness hormones). By decreasing stress effects, massage can have a direct effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal cortex (responsible for releasing hormones) – stimulating a healing and immune response.
5. Urinary System
Massage can increase urine production. Massage strokes help the interstitial fluid to move back to systemic circulation, increasing the blood volume that is counteracted by an increase in urine volume. This effect is particularly beneficial for those who suffer from fluid retention and oedema. With an increase in urine volume, an increase in excretion of products accumulated in the oedema flood can be expected.
Even if you are not feeling muscle soreness or stress, Massage Therapy with so many benefits can be part of your regular self-care toolkit.
Here at pH Clinic, we have the very best massage therapists who are trained in anatomy and physiology and understand the body and its intricacies. So consider booking with us today to receive the massage you deserve.
Written by Carolina Mori Pinto.
Carolina is a Massage Therapist and Physiotherapist, graduating from her studies in Brazil. She is also a certificated Mat Pilates Teacher, Acupuncture Therapist and Specialist in Postural re-education.