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The Body's Responses to Massage Therapy: Why Does It Work?

April 5th, 2017 • Posted by Mary Nix • Permalink

Massage therapy is a practice that has a long and varied history. This manipulation of soft tissues aids in enhancing a person’s health and well-being. Studies have concluded that just one session can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. Not only that, but multiple sessions can reduce pain, depression, and more. But exactly how does massage therapy work to improve and even heal the body? Massage therapy causes physiological changes through mechanical and relaxation responses. 

Mechanical Responses to Massage Therapy

When pressure is applied to the body’s soft tissues, the physical effects are known as mechanical responses. One way the body responds to physical manipulation is an increase in the circulation of lymph and blood. This improved circulation helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the muscle cells. The tissues function better as cellular health improves.

Another mechanical response of massage therapy is the relaxation of soft tissues. This can reduce muscle spasms. Relaxed tissue can also release nerves, allowing them to get the nutrients they need and work like they should. Properly functioning nerves improves the functioning of the organs and muscles.

Relaxation Response to Massage Therapy

The nervous system responds to massage therapy in a predictable manner. The touch involved in massage is like an invitation for the body to relax. As relaxation occurs, muscles relax, blood pressure decreases, breathing and heart rate decrease, and the stress hormones decrease. The relaxation response also helps the body increase available serotonin, the “feel good” chemical. Plus, it can help lessen the effects of stress on the body, including psychological issues, insomnia, hypertension, anxiety, digestive disorders, and more.

Together, the mechanical and relaxation responses are able to provide many physical and emotional benefits. To learn more about massage therapy or to schedule your appointment, contact us at Eagle Creek Massage. 

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