AustinPUG Health

AustinPUG Health

The other day while I was finishing up a massage session my client curiously asked, “Gloria, what exactly does massage do for me?”

This wasn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question by a client. It did, however, remind me that it is important as a provider of massage and bodywork to keep the client informed of all that goes on in our 60 minutes of treatment. For the next three weeks, I’ve decided to dedicate this column to three topics of interest. Benefits of Massage. The controversy between massage, toxins, and lactic acid. And how to find an excellent massage therapist in your area.

To make things simple, I will organize the benefits of massage in how it relates to each one of our body systems. This is how it was taught to me in massage school and has seemed to resonate through the years.
Our Integumentary System
Also known as our skin and happens to be the largest organ of the body. Increased circulation brings warmth that indicates stress reduction, improves the condition, texture and tone while lessening dryness by stimulating our oil glands. Most important, massage provides touch, which is something humans crave physically as well as emotionally.
Our Skeletal System and Joints
Massage used in areas of adhesion and scar formations, as well as fascial restrictions, will help reduce increased formation which will help facilitate normal range of motion again. Because of the increase in circulation, our bones retention of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is improved.
Our Muscular System
By increasing blood circulation, massage increases oxygen and nutrients available to the muscles which decreases fatigue, tightness, stiffness, spasms, as well as overall relaxation by reducing the excitability influenced by our sympathetic nervous system. Massage manually separates fibrous tissues, increases our range of motion, lengthens and increases flexibility, tones muscles that have atrophied and become flaccid.
Our Nervous and Endocrine Systems
By activating our parasympathetic nervous system, massage reduces stress, anxiety, decreases beta wave activity while increasing delta wave activity, increases alpha waves all inside our brain. Massage also increases dopamine, serotonin, endorphins and other pain-reducing chemicals. It reduces our cortisol, norepinephrine and epinephrine levels, all with the simple touch of a hand. Is it any wonder why massage works well with clients diagnosed with depression?
Our Cardiovascular and Circulatory System
Massage dilates blood vessels and increases blood circulation. Research has suggested that local circulation is increased up to three times more during a massage than at rest making it comparable to exercise. Both diastolic and systolic readings of our blood pressure decline and last approximately 40 minutes after your massage session. Massage reduces ischemia, our heart and pulse rate, while increasing RBC, WBC, and platelet counts, all increasing oxygen saturation in our blood. Last, massage promotes lymphatic circulation while reducing edema as well as increasing our lymphocyte count and strengthening our immune system.
Our Respiratory System
Massage slows down our breathing which allows strengthening of the respiratory muscles due to an increased capacity to contract improving overall pulmonary functions. Because of the relaxation response, massage received on a regular basis can decrease feelings of dyspnea as well as asthma attacks.
Our Digestive and Urinary System
Because massage activates our parasympathetic nervous system, peristaltic activity is increased promoting evacuation of our colon as well as excretion of urine. This, in turn, relieves constipation, colic, and intestinal gas. Digestion itself is also stimulated. Often times I will hear my client’s stomach growl – which to us therapists is a sign that relaxation has begun. There is never reason to apologize.
Next week I will cover massage, toxins, and lactic acid!

Categories: Natural health

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