How does massage work to relax muscles?

As the therapist uses their hands or specialized tools to rhythmically knead, rub, and stroke (effluerage) muscles, circulation is stimulated. Blood flow delivers oxygen and nutrients, and is key to helping muscles eliminate waste products such as lactic acid that may collect in muscles from spasms causing pain.

Following trauma, muscles may act as mini-splints to protect and limit motion, similar to a cast on a broken arm. A typical example is a person who uses a computer for a prolonged time period without taking a break to stretch the neck. The result: stiff neck, aching, even pain. Taking periodic breaks to rub (mini-massage) and stretch the neck will promote circulation to the muscles.

Most people getting a massage do so to enjoy the effects of relieved muscles and tendons. These physical comforts have painted a picture of massage therapy as something of a luxurious activity. Regular treatments of massage therapy will provide additional health benefits.

Massage Therapy Improves Digestion

The massage treatment of the abdomen and lower body stimulate the involuntary muscles of the digestive tract. The stimulation aids in the full processing of food and removal of toxins from the body.

Massage Therapy Improves Circulation

Each part of the body treated during a massage experiences better circulation. The pressure and movement along the body directly aids flow throughout the blood vessels.

Massage Therapy Lowers Blood Pressure

The additional boost to circulation improves blood pressure. Increased blood flow is only one aspect of decreasing blood pressure, however. The relaxation experienced during regular treatments promotes healthy blood pressure as well. Each session of massage therapy can reduce blood pressure, and continued treatments can provide permanent benefit.

Massage Therapy Aids in Weight Management

As explained above, regular massage therapy sessions promote better digestion and circulation. These improvements to general health can aid in personal weight management. Better circulation provides more effective exercise routines by assisting oxygen travel throughout the body. In addition, the benefits to digestion aid in regulating and speeding up the metabolism. These aspects are crucial to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Massage Therapy Boosts Immune Function

While the benefits to circulation, digestion, and metabolism described above influence immune function by increasing overall health, massage therapy provides other advantages in this area. The removal of toxins from the body, via good digestion and circulation, benefit the immune system. These waste products are also destroyed by the increased flow of lymph throughout the body. Perhaps most overlooked, human touch, provided in therapeutic sessions, has been found to regulate hormones and endorphins in the body. These have a direct effect in boosting one’s immune system.

Additional Information to Consider

Depending on your current level of health, the amount of treatment you should receive to enjoy these benefits may differ. Those who are very healthy might enjoy these benefits in as little as one treatment per month. Others looking to greatly improve these areas may only see improvements with weekly sessions. Those with particular physical issues which require additional care or looking to recover from various health ailments might require even more frequent treatments to most fully enjoy these benefits.

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