Often touted are the psychological benefits of massage therapy. Massage therapy will reduce emotional stress, which in turn will reduce or eliminate the production of stress chemicals in the body. Stress chemicals (the fight or flight response), can be harmful to the body over long periods of time. Physical touch and massage techniques involving slow, soothing strokes to one’s back or neck can slow a busy, overworked mind and settle or centre a person. Health professionals also recognize the communication of such caring touch as an adjunct to pain relief, whether physical or emotional.
If a person’s physical or emotional health is challenged, massage therapy can produce benefits whether the situation is acute (immediate) or chronic (long-standing). Many people also use regular massage therapy as a form of body maintenance, receiving massage faithfully for the continuance of good health.
Two of the greatest physiological changes produced by massage therapy are an increase in blood circulation and an increase in lymphatic fluid circulation. Consequently, there are several benefits from the increased circulation of these two vital body fluids.
The lymphatic system is essentially the immune system. Massage can increase the effectiveness of the immune system by increasing the distribution of lymphatic fluid.
Increased blood circulation will bring about reduction of swelling, faster healing, lowered heart rate and blood pressure and enhanced overall health.
In the case of injury, either from trauma (e.g. accidents or surgery) or repetitive strain (e.g. poor posture, poor ergonomic design furniture), a massage therapist can physically stretch muscles, inhibit muscle spasm, increase range of motion of joints and help break down scar tissue. A massage therapist is trained to assess and treat most soft tissues of the human body.
Once a pattern of muscle dysfunction is assessed and treated, a massage therapist will provide advice and tools such as specific exercises and stretches to lessen or eliminate the soft tissue problem.