Definition: Massage is the systematic manual or mechanical manipulation of the soft tissues of the body including the skin, fat, fascia, and muscles external to the skeleton.. Movements such as rubbing, kneading, pressing, rolling, slapping, tapping, or shaking are employed., with the following results:
I. Massage promotes the circulation of the blood and lymph. The soft tissues are full of blood and lymph vessels. Increased circulation of both blood and lymph benefits all of the systems in the body: The primary benefits of massage are twofold:
A. Improved delivery of oxygen, nutrients, and immune defense cells to all of the tissues in your body. Every cell requires oxygen and nutrients for energy in order to function well. When the cells function well, so do the tissues and organs they make up.
B. More efficient removal of waste matter from the tissues. Waste production is the normal byproduct of metabolism. Waste must be carried away in order to make room for fresh oxygen, nutrients, and lymphocytes.
When nutrient delivery and waste removal are efficient, metabolic balance is achieved. Cells, tissues, and organs function better, so your energy level is higher, you feel better, and you function better,
II. Massage relaxes muscles. When we are under stress, our muscles tense. While this prepares us for "flight or fight" in the short term, muscle contraction that continues over a long period actually weakens the muscle. Because it is already contracted, it is less able to fully respond when you want it to contract. And it becomes tender or painful due to the buildup of waste products from the continuous contraction. Because massage promotes the removal of waste from the muscle tissues, good circulation is restored and muscles return to the more comfortable resting state, and they are more "respons-able" when you need them.
III. Relief from pain: During a massage the pleasant sensations override the painful stimulation of the nervous system. This temporary relief from pain gives the person a rest. It lets them feel in control, and it shows them that it is possible to be pain free.
Jane Ella Matthews, M.Ed,
LMBT (Lic. # 1587)