According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), 87 percent of individuals view massage as being beneficial to overall health and wellness. 89 percent of consumers surveyed believe that massage can be effective in reducing pain. 71 percent of consumers agree that massage therapy should be considered a form of health care. What does this mean? Massage therapy is considered mainstream and good for one’s health. The demand for massage therapy and its benefits will continue to grow, as well as the demand for more professional massage therapists.
Massage is one of the safest types of complementary medicine and physical therapy. There are a lot of positive effects of massage therapy on the body. It positively effects the connective tissues, muscles, skin, cardiovascular system, digestive system, lymphatic and immune systems, nervous and endocrine systems, respiratory system and urinary system.
The body responds to pressure in both a mechanical and reflexive response. A mechanical response occurs as a result of pressure, force or range of motion when the tissues of the body are pulled, lifted, rubbed, compressed and manipulated. To create a reflexive response in the body, massage therapy stimulates nerves and activates a reflex arc.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Connective Tissues
Massage therapy has a positive effect on the body’s connective tissues. It reduces keloid formation when applied to scar tissue beneath the site of the massage application. Deep massage reduces excessive scar tissue formation. It also helps increase mineral retention in bone and promotes facture healing. When a bone is fractured, the body naturally forms a network of new blood vessels at the break site. Massage increases circulation around the facture and promotes fracture healing.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Muscles
The body’s muscles also benefit from massage therapy. by relieving muscular tension, relaxing muscles and reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Massage therapy relieves muscular restriction, tightness, stiffness and spasms. It reduces muscle soreness and fatigue by enhancing blood circulation that results in an increase in the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to the muscles. Compressive strokes and cross-fiber friction strokes help separate muscle fibers resulting in a reduction of muscle spasms. When muscular tension is reduced, the patient’s range of motion is improved. Massage therapy increases flexibility by lengthening muscles and promoting relaxation. Finally, massage therapy tones weak muscles through an increase in spindle activity that stimulates minute muscle contractions.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Skin
Massage therapy has a positive effect on the skin of the body. It can increase the temperature of the skin helping to reduce stress. The increase in blood circulation from massage therapy allows the skin to create additional nutrients that improve the skin’s condition, texture and tone. Massage therapy also stimulates the oil glands increasing oil production, resulting in an improvement in skin condition and reduction of skin dryness.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Cardiovascular System
The cardiovascular system is helped by massage therapy by dilating the blood vessels, improving blood circulation and decreasing blood pressure. Blood vessels become dilated as a result of the reflex action of massage therapy, which in turn reduces blood pressure. Massage therapy improves blood circulation by mechanically assisting the blood flow back to the heart, similar to exercise. Increased circulation promotes the removal of waste products from the body. Massage therapy can also reduce heart and pulse rate through activation of the relaxation response. Massage therapy increases the amount of red blood cells which results in an increase in the oxygen saturation of the blood. The body also produces additional white blood cells since it may perceive massage as a mild stressor.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Digestive System
Massage therapy has a positive effect on the digestive system. It promotes evacuation of the colon through movement of bowel contents toward the anus. Since evacuation of the colon is promoted, constipation relief can also occur. Massage therapy helps the expulsion of intestinal gas. Finally, massage therapy activates the relaxation response which stimulates digestion.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Lymphatic & Immune Systems
Promoting lymph circulation is one of massage therapy’s many benefits. The increase in circulation depends on the pressure from muscle contraction, pressure changes during breathing and the pressure applied from a massage. Swelling in the body is also reduced by enhancing lymph circulation. The reduction of swelling can allow clients to lose water weight. Finally, massage therapy increases the white blood count which aids in the immune response, making clients healthier as a result.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Nervous & Endocrine Systems
Massage therapy has a positive effect on the nervous and endocrine systems. It reduces stress, reduces anxiety and promotes relaxation. It also increases dopamine levels and serotonin levels. Both help decrease stress and reduce depression in the client. Cortisol levels, that can heighten stress and inhibit immune functions, can also be reduced. Massage therapy also is proven to reduce hormones that cause stress in the body, including norepinephrine and epinephrine hormones. Finally, massage therapy helps reduce pain, which in turn helps reduce stress and offer general relaxation.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Respiratory System
Massage therapy has a positive effect on the respiratory system. It helps reduce respiration rate by slowing down breathing while promoting relaxation. Massage helps strengthen the respiratory muscles and improves pulmonary functions. For those with asthma attacks, massage therapy helps reduce the frequency of asthma attacks through relaxation.
Positive Effects of Massage on the Urinary System
Massage therapy has a positive effect on the urinary system. It increases urine output by activating dormant capillary beds and recovers lymphatic fluids for filtration by the kidneys. Massage therapy also promotes the excretion of nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus and sodium chloride in urine.
Other Positive Effects of Massage
Clients of massage therapy can experience a renewed energy and reduction of fatigue. It can help improve sleep patterns, reduce insomnia related to stress, improve mood, decrease feelings of anger, improve body image, and improve self-esteem. Finally, clients tended to improve their lifestyle as a result of massage therapy with an increase in activity in daily life and increased levels of exercise. Massage therapy can also help clients with fibromyalgia and headaches.
Not only is massage therapy important to relieve pain but it promotes a healthy lifestyle, increased relaxation, a reduction in depression and balancing of emotions. A massage therapist can help their clients improve self-esteem and self-worth through a regimen of massage therapy. It has also been reported to help with academic performance and mental alertness. Massage therapy is an overall benefit to a client’s health and well-being.