If you work out regularly or you’ve started a new training programme you will benefit from massage therapy. Today a guest article on the benefits of massage therapy.

 

Benefits of Massage Therapy

By Dr Sonia Povey, Physiotherapist and SMT

 

Massage Therapy may sound like a luxury but there are benefits of regular massage for a variety of individuals including sedentary individuals, those with injury or certain medical conditions and sports people looking for maintenance, faster recovery and injury prevention.

Sports massage therapy will induce a combination of both physiological and psychological responses in the body.

 

Function

 

Benefits of Massage Therapy can help reduce muscle stiffness, pain, fatigue and increase flexibility and range of motion. As excess tension is reduced in some muscles while other muscles are stimulated, improved balance between muscle groups will be gained, and alongside this, a development of greater postural awareness.

 

Circulation

 

the mechanical pumping action of the strokes stimulates circulation, which aids in the decongestion of tissues and reduces blood viscosity. By stimulating circulation the tissues receive an increase in the supply of oxygen and nutrients, there is a reduction in blood pressure and waste materials are removed from the tissues. Massage opens or dilates the blood vessels and by stretching them this enables nutrients to pass through more easily. This increase in nutrients and removal of waste products speeds up the rate of healing and tissue repair.

 

Stretching

 

Training can make muscles hard and inelastic, Benefits of Massage Therapy can help reverse this by stretch tissues that could not be stretched in the usual methods. Tissues are stretched both longitudinally and transversely, which improves soft tissue mobility and influencing the production and formation of collagen fibres. Massage can also stretch the sheath or fascia that surrounds the muscle, so releasing any tension or pressure build up.

 

Scar Tissue

 

Scar tissue is produced following injuries or trauma and can lead to inflexible muscle, tendons and ligaments that are prone to injury and pain. Massage can help break down this scar tissue, reducing adhesions and restore normal function and elasticity to tissues

 

Psychological Effects

 

Massage can affect the mental state of a client. A vigorous massage can help increase mental alertness, leaving the client feeling ready for activity and stimulated. Massage can also aid in the reduction of anxiety, enhancing feelings of well being and relaxation.

 

Massage Has Physiological Effects On Key Body Systems

 

Neuroendocrine System

 

Through the removal of waste products and the reduction of pressures in the muscles and fascia Benefits of Massage Therapy will reduce irritation of the nerve endings and lead to a reduction in pain. Pain is also reduced the ‘pain gate theory’, as massage stimulated the different sensory nerves (nerves that react to temperature, pressure), thereby blocking the slower nerve fibres that respond to deep aching pain. Massage also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, helping promote muscle relaxation and the reduction of stress.

 

Lymphatic System

 

Massage will stimulate lymphatic circulation, which will reduce oedema and aid in the removal of waste products form tissues.

 

Integumentary System (the skin)

 

As soft tissue is mobilised during massage, skin elasticity will improve and exfoliation of the superficial cells will occur. Massage also induces vasodilation of the surface capillaries, thereby improving nutrient and oxygen supply to the reproductive layers of the skin and encouraging cell regeneration and improving skin elasticity.

Massage will also simulate sweat glands helping in the excretion of urea and waste products through the skin. The production of sebum, a substance that lubricates and protects the skin, is also stimulated by massage thereby aiding in improving the skin’s suppleness and resistance to infection.

 

Respiratory System

 

Massage deepens respiration and improves lung capacity by relaxing any tightness in the respiratory muscles. It also slows down the rate of respiration and increases relaxation due to the reduced stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system.

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