A massage is a physical manipulation of your muscles and soft tissue which provokes a mechanical response from your body. Physiologically, a massage contributes towards deep relaxation and there have been a number of scientific studies which highlight the benefits of massage on a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and headaches, but also with cancer, burns, MS, fibromyalgia, pregnancy and labour. Other studies have shown that the relaxing effects of massage can aid the recovery of post-operative bypass patients and even help lessen the effects of sexual abuse.
Relaxation is a hugely powerful healing tool and massage can play a major contribution towards it by helping the body and mind to relax in a number of ways:
The manipulation of soft tissue helps to increase the circulation of blood and the lymphatic system. This enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells which improves the health of each cell, enabling the tissue to function more efficiently, which in turn leads to more effective removal of waste products, increases the absorption of excess fluids and reduces swelling.
Soft tissue relaxation
A massage will help decompress the muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments. When these tissues are tense and compressed, they sometimes also impede the nerves around them, which causes pain and difficulty with movement. As organs share neurological pain pathways, relaxing the pressure on nerves can also help improve other conditions, for instance, period pains can be increased by lower back pain, so by addressing the back pain, you can also lessen cramping.
Relaxes the physiology
Whilst you’re having a massage, your heart and breathing rate become slower, your blood pressure goes down, and you produce fewer stress hormones. This kind of relaxation helps increase your levels of serotonin – the chemical which positively affects your mood.
Getting enough sleep is critical to your well-being, and massage treatments can help you achieve better quality sleep which improves overall health. And it can have an immediate effect – it’s common for people to fall asleep whilst getting a massage and report having a really good night’s sleep afterwards.
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