Massage Benefits

Promote relaxation, reduce tension, increase your body’s awareness/movement, reduce stress, improve immune system and more!

Below is a list of the organ systems and what happens to each through massage or bodywork

Integumentary System
• Mechanically warms the skin with friction
• Increases circulation of blood and lymph within the skin
• Stimulates sebaceous (oil) gland secretions which make the skin more supple and pliable
• Stimulates sweat production which cools the body upon evaporation of sweat
• Breaks down fascial adhesions in the subcutaneous layer (superficial fascia) to restore circulation and movement to skin

Skeletal System
• Joint movement stimulates synovial fluid production which cushions and lubricates synovial joints (think knees!)
• Increases the health of skeleton by enhancing circulation of blood and lymph to and from the bones

Muscular System
• Increases nutrition and development of muscles by enhancing circulation of blood and lymph to and from the muscles
• Increases the excitability of muscles, making them more sensitive to nerve impulses
• Discourages the formation of lactic acid in muscles following physical exertion
• Accelerates recovery of fatigued muscles by reducing the lactic acid buildup
• Increases heat in and around muscles to loosen fasica and restore movement and circulation to the muscles
• Decreases hypertonicity in muscles and tendons

Nervous System
• Increases production of dopamine, a pain-relieving chemical involved in voluntary movement and clear thinking
• Increases production of endorphins, strong pain-relieving chemicals
• Increases production of enkephalins, strong pain relievers involved in sensory integration
• Increases secretion of oxytocin, a chemical that increases the pain threshold, stimulates smooth muscle contractions, decreases sympathetic nervous system activity, and has sedative effects
• Increases production of serotonin, which generally diminishes pain and appetite, regulates moods and sleep patterns, and stimulates smooth muscle contractions
• Decreases production of cortisol, a natural anti-inflammatory produced in response to stress that can accelerate tissue breakdown and prevent tissue repair
• Decreases substance P, a neurotransmitter that triggers the pain response

Circulatory System
• Increases circulation of blood and lymph in and around the area being addressed
• Reduces the symptoms of ischemia (lack of blood flow) by increasing circulation to capillaries with poor blood flow
• Increase permeability of capillary walls, enhancing delivery of oxygen and nutrients
• Sustained percussion can cause vasodilation deep within the area being addressed to increase blood flow
• Increases circulation of lymph to help the body fight germs
• Increases circulation of lymph which increases removal of metabolic waste
• Reduces edema

Respiratory System
• Encourages slow, deep contraction of the diaphragm which helps remove carbon dioxide waste via the lungs
• Percussive techniques can relieve chest congestion by loosening mucus within lungs

Digestive System
• Enhances the digestive process reflexively by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous response
• Mechanically pushes indigestible waste through the intestines

Urinary System
• Increases cellular and chemical waste excreted via urine
• Encourages constriction of the smooth muscle of the urinary bladder to eliminate more urine as a reflexive response of the parasympathetic nervous system

Endocrine System
• Increase delivery of hormones and other chemicals as a result of increased circulation of blood
• Reduces levels of cortisol and norepinephrine (noradrenaline), stress-related hormones

(Source: Introduction to Massage Therapy, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008)

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