The Positive Physical and Psychological Effects of Body Massage

Any massage, be it sports therapy or an ayurvedic spa, effects four systems of a body. Namely,

  1. Physical

  2. Physiological

  3. Neurological

  4. Psychological

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.

Deep Tissue Massage Versus Swedish Massage – What’s the Difference?

When we go through the list of services offered at a spa, we often tend to imagine how each massage therapy might be like, before deciding on what we would like to avail. Often, we end up availing a random massage, because the name is very fascinating. In the end, after the massage, we conclude that all massages are the same. But in reality, every massage is different than the other and each massage has its own benefits.

Let’s know the difference between Swedish massage and Deep Tissue Massage.

Swedish massage is a type of massage that utilizes firm pressure on the muscles. It also involves a series of long gliding strokes. This massage uses various essential oils which have various aromatic benefits and these oils help reduce friction as well.

Swedish massage increases blood circulation in the muscles which eases the tension in the body and improves flexibility. It stimulates the skin and the nervous system, hence, soothing the nerves and reducing both physical, mental and emotional stress.

A Swedish massage involves the application of five strokes, namely:

1. Effleurage – Long flowing strokes that allow the therapist to spread the oils on the body and feel the muscle tone.

2. Petrissage – Kneading strokes that lifts and squeezes the tissues, flushing out the metabolic waste in that area.

3. Friction – A type of stroke that involves fast short movements creating heat in that area that brings blood flow to that area. This helps in loosening the ligaments.

4. TapotementThis stroke is popularly known as ‘the karate chop move’, it involves a series of light blows to the body which helps in relaxing the muscles.

5. VibrationThis stroke creates movement in the entire body. When done properly, results are very relaxing.

Deep Tissue massage Is a type of massage that aims at targeting the deep tissue structure of the body muscles. This massage is concentrated mainly on the connective tissues.

Deep tissue massage helps in fast recovery of small muscle injuries and chronic problems. This massage is an excellent way to deal with sports injuries, postural misalignment, treating spasms and muscle tension. It also helps to release specific chronic muscle tension like the muscular knots and adhesions.

This massage involves a series of slow, specific, and deliberate strokes, which is best for postural deviances and abnormal muscle tone. The therapist here applies several different strokes depending on the type of the muscle that they are working on. During this massage, the muscles will slowly begin to loosen up, allowing the therapist to move along it.

Professional Spa and Massage For Athletes – A Basic Guide

There was a time when massage was considered a luxury for the few. Today, every person searches for the spa in the neighbourhood, especially athletes and professional trainers. A massage is not only deemed useful but critical to keeping the body fit and at peak performing level. Surveys and studies have proven time, and again that massages can give tremendous positive effects on the functioning of the body. Athletes can be treated better, and rehabilitation can be speeded up.

The positives of body massage are not limited to professional sports person; they can be leveraged by anyone who practices a regular exercise regime. Better performance, prevention of minor injuries, a decrease in pain, more focus and reduced recovery time are a few benefits of soft-tissue therapy. In the sections below, an essential guide to massage is given for any athlete or exercise enthusiast.

The Anatomical Benefits of a Massage

When the body is massaged two things happen. First, the pressure of the masseuse’s hand and the movement of it results in a mechanical response in the body. Second, a reflex action occurs because the nerve endings are stimulated. The two responses combine to create an effect on the cardiovascular system of the body which leads to the following benefits:

  • The blood vessels dilate which increase blood circulation and promotes efficiency.
  • The flow to the heart enhances by the repeated manual massage which results in an increased level of oxygen in the body. Tissues have better access to nutrients, and the body removes waste products and toxins easily.
  • The heart rate lowers which leads to a release of tension and a more untroubled body.

Besides the cardiovascular advantages of a massage, an athlete also gains positives of the muscular system.

  • Soreness of the muscles is removed, and the tension eradicated which leads to speedier recovery in sportspersons.
  • Muscles have more range of motion because of their flexibility increases.
  • The above two combine to strengthen the performance of the individual in competitions and games by building muscles.

Kinds of Massages for Sports People

Relief from pain, stronger and pliable muscles and more natural recovery are the three significant boons of a massage to people who train. But it doesn’t mean that any kind of massage therapy will provide these outcomes. For athletes and exercisers there are some varieties of treatments that work the best:

  1. Sports massage: Depending upon the type of game the athlete plays; sports therapies can differ. Most of them are performed at very high speed and include a lot of stretching. The approach of the massage can vary based on when it is implemented, too. A pre-workout massage would mainly include stretching that warms up the muscles. A therapy done after a game would be focused on increasing elasticity and reducing soreness.
  2. Deep tissue therapies: This is employed when certain sections of the body are causing problems. For example, when the muscles of the knee begin to pain due to constant activity, heavy pressure on the muscles and surrounding tissue can help solve the problem. Such massages of times leave the person sore because they are designed to remove knots. Eradicating tension and pain from muscles requires a lot of pressure.

Therefore, instead of opting for aromatherapy or soft tissue massage, it is better to select sports or deep tissue massage.

The Right Time to Schedule Massages

The first point of note is to remember that the results regular massage can provide can never compare to a one-off. Any leading body massage centre will recommend scheduling an entire regime of massages that work in tandem with the sports schedule of the athlete. Therapies are very much like training. The more regularly you perform them, the better the results. Any sports person who wants to reap the cumulative benefits of spas needs to schedule them in short intervals.

They are two crucial points that should be born in mind when pencilling in massages before or after a game:

  • They are not just for solving issues; they can be used for preventive measures too.
  • The result of therapies can be short-lived, hence the need for a regular massage timetable

The optimal programme for any pro athlete or person who exercises at a high level is once in 7 days. If that is not possible, once in 2 weeks is essential. For other people, who don’t train as much or have constraints related to budget two times in 30 days is recommended.

A Succinct Summation

An athlete, amateur or skilled, a budding trainer or an exercise lover, each person can use massages for maintenance of the body, solving pain points and recovering from injuries. Therapies can become the crucial weapon you need to keep your body in tip-top condition. It is not just physically that massages can help you, the mental benefits are also immense. They can help you focus better and relax more.