Massage has a myriad of effects on the body. These stand apart from the relaxation that most people will associate with getting a nice rub down. Physiological effects of massage can be pinned down to one of four categories.
Regarding the body’s mechanics, therapy of this nature can help with reflex effects. Massage can push fluids through, helping alleviate soreness or blockage. It can also realign collagen fibres or increase the elasticity of the tissues.
Circulatory effects are also noted. Massage can increase circulation and allow clogged areas to flow more easily, depending on the nature of the issue. Lactic acid is also moved away from muscles, to reduce the effects of fatigue.
The body also experiences an increase in capillarisation, temperature, and vasodilation with regular massage.
Endorphins and dopamine are both associated with exercise and mood. Massage therapy can cause an increase in the levels of these hormones. Massage can also cause a release of serotonin, low levels of which are associated with clinical depression and other psychiatric conditions.
Individuals who are unable to engage in exercise to release endorphins may use massage as a substitute. Patients may not be able to exert themselves physically, or their range of movement may be limited. Massage therapy can help them overcome this issue.
It is believed that this increase in hormone levels is why people feel relaxed after a massage session.
Finally, there are also benefits that occur at a cellular level. Massage has been found to increase oxygenation of blood cells, improving the functions of the respiratory and circulatory system. At the same time, it can promote lymphatic drainage, clearing unwanted proteins in the body.
Massage has many benefits for the physiology of the body. The above benefits all have scientific data to back them, and they can help patients with a variety of conditions.