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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 facia.

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 ischaemia (ischaemia 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 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 skins colour

improved elasticity of the skin

increased sebum production, helping to improve the skins 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 Physiological 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