Massage causes physiological changes in your body through:
The Relaxation Response = an involuntary but predictable response of the nervous system to massage techniques & touch
The Mechanical Response = the physical effects which occur in the body when pressure is applied to soft tissues
Together, these responses can produce physical and emotional benefits.
What is the Relaxation Response?
A nurturing, safe touch is an invitation to relax. The relaxation response is a state in which your heart and breathing rate slow, your blood pressure goes down, your production of stress hormones decreases, and muscles relax
It increases serotonin levels and may decrease the physical effects of stress and reduce the risks associated with stress e.g. hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety, insomnia & persistent fatigue
What are Mechanical Responses?
The physical manipulation in massage has two major physical effects:
- Increase in blood and lymph circulation
- Relaxation and normalisation of the soft tissue (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments), which releases nerves and deeper connective tissues
Massage improves blood and lymph circulation due to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and to chemicals released as part of the relaxation response.
This can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells & as cellular health improves, tissues function more efficiently.
More efficient functioning = removal of waste products & may increase the absorption of excess fluids and reduce swelling in soft tissues.
Reduce Nerve Compression!
When contracted muscles can compress the nerves around them. When relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed and can get proper nutrients and operate more efficiently.
SO the nerves can assume their normal work of transmitting messages to and from the improving the functioning of muscles & organs.
Touching the skin / applying pressure relaxes muscles, tendons & ligaments. Some of the deeper tissues can’t be easily accessed, so the release of more superficial layers may affect the deeper layers and can lead to both finding better alignment & balance!