Massage affects the body as a whole. To understand how massage therapy works, a number of the physiological effects of massage must be briefly examined.

Massage is known to increase the blood circulation and flow of lymph. The direct mechanical aftereffect of rhythmically applied manual pressure and movement used in massage can dramatically increase the rate of blood flow. Also, the stimulation of nerve receptors causes the arteries (by reflex action) to dilate, which also facilitates blood circulation.

A milky white fluid called lymph carries impurities and waste away from the tissues and passes through gland-like structures spaced through the entire lymphatic system that become filtering valves. The lymph does not circulate as blood does, so its movement depends largely on the squeezing effect of muscle contractions. Consequently, inactive people neglect to stimulate lymph flow. On the other hand, the stimulation due to vigorous activity could be outstripped by the increased waste produced by that activity. Massage can dramatically aid the movement of lymph in either case.

For the whole body to be healthy, the sum of the its parts – the cells – must be healthy. The individual cells of the body are dependent on an enormous supply of blood and lymph because these fluids supply nutrients and oxygen and carry away wastes and toxins. So, it is easy to understand why good circulation is indeed important for the entire body, due to its influence on the circulation alone.

Massage is also recognized to:

– Cause changes in the blood. The oxygen capacity of the blood can increase 10-15% after massage

– Affect muscles through the entire body. Massage can help loosen contracted, shortened muscles and can stimulate weak, flaccid muscles. This muscle “balancing” can help posture and promote more efficient movement. Massage does not directly increase muscle strength, but it can speed recovery from fatigue that occurs after exercise. In this way, it can be possible to accomplish more exercise and training, which in the long run strengthens muscles and improves conditioning. Massage also offers a gentle stretching action to both muscles and connective tissues that surround and support the muscles and several other parts of your body, which helps keep these tissues elastic.

– Increase the body’s secretions and excretions. There exists a proven increase in the production of gastric juices, saliva, and urine after massage. Addititionally there is increased excretion of nitrogen, inorganic phosphorous, and sodium chloride (salt). This suggests that the metabolic rate (the use of absorbed material by your body’s cells) increases.

– Affect the nervous system. Massage balances the nervous system by soothing or stimulating it, depending on which effect is needed by the individual at the time of massage.

– Enhance condition of the skin. Massage directly improves the event of the sebaceous (oil) and sweat glands which keep the skin lubricated, clean and cooled. Tough, inflexible skin may become softer and more supple.

– Affect internal organs. By indirectly stimulating nerves that supply internal organs, blood vessels of these organs dilate and allow greater blood supply in their mind.

Knowing about the physiological ramifications of massage makes it possible to better understand medical and fitness great things about massage. What takes place under the massage therapists hands has profound importance for those interested in health and fitness in tuning up their health. In every sport or type of exercise, massage might help. By helping to reduce physiological fatigue and aid recovery from the exertion of training or playing, massage enables better training, with longer, far better workouts, thus facilitating better performance and preventing injury.

The people of ancient Mediterranean civilizations knew this. After bathing exercise, they included a full body massage. The ancients understood that education involves equal development of the mind and body. The present day publics interest in conditioning, holistic health, wellness and human potential represents a bid to revive a time honoured philosophy.

For most people getting into a fitness program, often the spirit is willing however the flesh is not. When regular physical exercise is begun almost every area of the body changes. Of interest to massage therapists is the way blood vessels are more intricate in order the meet the body’s demand for more oxygen, to provide more nutrients, to permit more elimination. This takes time. While the muscles are receiving into shape, they will have trouble getting enough oxygen and nutrient and wastes back up and stagnate. Unfortunately, many exercise programs regard pains and aches as the inevitable price to be paid. This is simply not true. Massage may be used as the Greeks and Romans used it – to increase endurance, control fatigue and feel better as part of a regular health program.

Massage acts to disperse the accumulated by-products of muscle action that irritate muscles and nerve endings. Lactic and carbonic acids build-up in muscle tissue soon after exercise begins. These acids are waste material that contribute to the causation of the pain and occasional cramping that exercisers, athletes, dancers, etc. suffer during and/or after workouts or performing. These acids are formed when the glycogen stored in the liver and muscles in burned to create the power expended during exercise. The acids must eventually be reconverted to glycogen and stored again, or drained out via the lymph and circulatory systems. Pain and fatigue persist until this process of reconverting or excreting is completed. Massage can help eliminate the irritation caused by these wastes, thus increasing muscle recovery rates. When massage has been substituted for rest, an increase from 20-75%, even 100% muscle recovery has been recorded. For instance, this is the reason boxers are massaged rather than rested between rounds.