Many people hear the word massage and simply envision laying on a table and drifting off into a beautiful state of feel good relaxation. Or perhaps you are one of those that immediately conjures up images of your therapist digging into your sore muscles to break up knots (or adhesions as we technically call them). And that is totally great!
Getting a massage as a tool for relaxation or to help sore muscles are obviously two of the most sought after reasons people get massage and are both incredibly beneficial! But did you know that there are a huge number of other effects that massage has on your body that can benefit you in a myriad of ways?
I thought I would break down some of the possibly lesser known benefits of massage here, so that you can get a better idea of just what massage can do for you!
1. Tissue Repair & Scar Formation
When our bodies are recovering from an injury (burns, cuts, sprains, surgery, etc.) massage can be of exceptional benefit. In earlier stages of the healing process obviously massage would not be used directly on the injured area, but light circulatory massage in other parts of the body can assist in the body providing a better supply of nutrients and building materials to the injured tissue, allowing it to heal more quickly.
Once the healing process has reached the stage of scar tissue formation, deep friction techniques can be of great benefit. This allows for the formation of strong, yet pliable scar tissue, resulting in less restriction caused by scarring.
2. Cardiovascular Health
Being that the cardiovascular system affects everything else in our body, I would argue that the positive benefits it has on this system may be massage's greatest achievement! First and foremost, massage greatly increases circulation. In fact a study showed that after a 10-minute massage of a calf, blood flow DOUBLED (and the effect lasted for 40 minutes)! That means twice as many nutrients were being brought into the tissue and twice as much waste was being able to be removed! That is a profound increase in the body's ability to heal, grow, and fight infection!
Massage also assists in lowering blood pressure, the venous return of blood to the heart (making varicose veins less likely) and through the increase in the number of red blood cells in the blood, more oxygen is delivered throughout the body.
3. Joint Function and Range of Motion
The movement of joints in massage allows for more synovial fluid to be produced in the joint capsule (think of this like oil in your gears). This keeps your joints moving more smoothly and leaves you less prone to osteoarthritis. Thai Yoga Massage would be one technique that would be spectacular in this area!
Through deep tissue and trigger point work we are also able to help release muscles that are too tight (hypertonic), resulting in increased range of motion of joints and greater flexibility.
4. Reduced Anxiety
Not only does massage have physical effects, but it also has numerous psychological effects as well! Numerous studies have shown that it reduces anxiety significantly. This has been shown in both cases of short-term acute anxiety, such as going in for surgery, as well as in people with ongoing chronic anxiety. I am not going to dive too deep into any of the studies as it could fill many pages, but if you want to see more you can check out lots of fascinating information here.
5. SO much more!
There are so many more things that massage can do for you as well such as...
- Improving the health of connective tissue.
- Stimulating sensory receptors in the skin.
- Pain reduction.
- Improve immune function.
- Encourage diaphragmatic breathing.
- Improve digestion.
- Increase urinary production and bladder tension.
- Promote growth and development in infants.
So what are you waiting for? If massage isn't already a part of your life, now is the time to book that first appointment!