1. Massage induces the Relaxation Response, which is an involuntary, yet predictable, response of the nervous system to massage techniques and touch.
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 your muscles relax.
The relaxation response also seems to increase the available level of serotonin, which is a chemical in the body that positively affects emotions and thoughts.
The relaxation response may decrease the physical effects of stress and reduce the risks associated with stress, such as hypertension, cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety, insomnia, persistent fatigue, sexual dysfunction, digestive disorders, and psychological issues.
2. Massage reduces inflammation in muscles after exercise.
3. Massage stimulates mitochondria to optimize cellular function and improve cell repair.
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4. Massage improves blood and lymph circulation. This is probably due partly to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and partly to the chemicals released as part of the relaxation response.
Improved circulation can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. As cellular health improves, tissues function more efficiently. More efficient functioning leads to the removal of waste products and may increase the absorption of excess fluids and reduce swelling in soft tissues.
5. Massage relieves nerve compression.
When muscles are contracted, they may compress the nerves around them. When muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed, and, in turn, are able to get proper nutrients and operate more efficiently. The nerves assume their normal work of transmitting messages to and from the brain, which improves functioning of the muscles and organs (it’s a positive feedback loop).
6. Massage may improve posture, alignment, and balance.
Deeper styles of massage (Deep Tissue, Thai Massage, Neuromuscular Therapy) aim to release tension in the deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue. This may lead to better spinal alignment, as well as better range of motion in the joints.
Better alignment and freedom of movement will in turn improve one’s balance and ability to perform physical activities at a higher level.
7. Massage improves internal organ function.
Organs share neurological pain pathways with muscles, bones, and nerves. When muscles, bones, or nerves are distressed, organs can sometimes reflect distress and dysfunction. For example, low back pain can intensify menstrual cramps and menstrual cramps can cause low back muscles to tense up.