Any massage, be it sports therapy or an ayurvedic spa, effects four systems of a body. Namely,
All four are connected. The skilled movement of the hands of a masseuse creates the first effect, i.e., physical which in turn triggers the other three. With every stroke, rub, squeeze or compression of the skin the muscles lying below have neurological, functional or psychological change.
The response of the body to a massage therapy depends on the type of motion, i.e., the technique and the time for which it is done. The depth, speed, frequency and the part of the body that is massaged factor in deciding the extent of the benefits, also. First, let’s take a look at the physical reactions to a massage.
What are the physical benefits of a body massage therapy?
The muscles in a body have a lot of flexibility. They can extend and contract to a significant degree. It is the connecting tissue that lies around them that limits the movement. One way to increase the extensibility of connective tissue is through massages. Continuous kneading or wringing can loosen (plus stretch) the tissues that are present near muscles. Additionally, rigorous movements increase blood circulation to the area and heat it which makes the tissue pliable.
When performed regularly, massage can cause:
- Lengthening of muscle fibres
- Changes in connective tissue
- Improve flexibility
These physical changes in the body lead to the following advantages:
- The range of motion in the joints of a body increase because the muscles are relaxed.
- Swelling that has happened due to leaking of blood or other fluids from vessels and capillaries can be reduced. The massage stimulates the flow of lymph plus increases the temperature of the soft tissue which causes the reabsorption of the leaked fluid and hence decreases in swelling.
- Any muscle that is holding tension can be relieved by stroking action of a massage. The motion stimulates the receptors present on nerve ending which can then either result in muscle relaxation or tightening. The effect is reflexive meaning it happens automatically in the muscles because of the massage.
What are the psychological reactions of a massage?
Before diving into the psychological advantages of massage, one thing should be made clear. The biological or physiological outcomes are deeply related with the mental effects of therapy. When the muscles relax, a more peaceful state of the brain is automatically achieved. The vice versa also applies. When the psychological feedback says to let go of the tension in the mind, the muscles in the body relax too.
Some of the psychological compensations that can be achieved through massage are:
- Pain relief: A massage reduces muscle tension which decreases the pressure on nerve ending which leads to lowered pain. As some of the pain lessens, the perception of it is also altered which further reduces it. The cycle keeps repeating. Therefore, sports therapy is continuously used to manage injuries in athletes and speed up rehabilitation.
- Anxiety: Physical relaxation of the body and relief from pain consequently leach away the anxiety a body holds.
What are the biological results of spa therapy?
The effects of a Thai massage are not limited to the brain and the physical body. The biological functions within also see positive outcomes. When massages are done with pressure and in-depth, they compress and release blood vessels which increases blood circulation. Even the lymph flow to the heart can be heightened by giving prolonged massages to specific areas of the body. Two techniques by which lymph can be stimulated to flow to body extremities are kneading and deep stroking.
When the blood flow increases in the body, the oxygen available to soft tissues also rises along with the accessibility of nutrients. When lymph flow increases, the body’s capability to remove waste products from the lymphatic system also grows. The flow of blood and lymph is achieved by stimulating the nerves. This results in dilation of blood vessels that leads to more blood circulation, higher temperature, increase in elasticity of muscles, better delivery of oxygen and nutrients.
The last benefit of massage is neurological. By certain motions, a massage therapist can induce reflex actions in the body. These actions have a sedative effect. One such move is rubbing a painful area. The movement stimulated the nerve endings in the location which send the signal to stop the feeling of pain. This happens by blocking the transmission of signals to the spinal cord. In simple terms, a massage decreases pain in the body by affecting the nervous system.
A Succinct Summation
The gist is that massage of diverse kinds can be utilised to reduce pain, take away anxiety, stimulate blood and oxygen flow. It can also be employed to reduce swelling and increase the range of motion. An excellent body therapy can either take you to a relaxed state or make it more active. What the effect of a massage should be is decided by the physical and mental needs of the person.