Wellness Articles

SEPTEMBER 2020

The Benefits of Massage Therapy – Dr. Mary J Ames Brown, DC, NCPT

A soft tissue massage can offer many benefits for the human body.  Although you may already be aware of the main benefits; there are some others that are also important to mention.

Everyone knows that getting a great massage can soften and stretch knots and tight, tender or hard spots in muscle tissue and fascia, helping to release these areas of tension and adhesion. Most people are also aware that massage increases one’s blood circulation.  Your tissues require a constant supply of blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells in your body.  These products support cellular metabolism. Metabolic processes include the cell using nutrients to build an energy molecule called ATP, and your cell’s DNA producing proteins that support the body’s shape and function. Massage helps these processes by increasing blood flow to tissues and allowing the tissues to remove waste products more quickly. 

Another, lessor known benefit of massage is improved lymph fluid drainage.  Lymph fluid requires muscular contraction to circulate back into your blood stream, known as the cardiovascular system.  Massage helps by pushing and moving lymph out of your limbs and towards the heart where it re-joins your blood through venous return in the upper thorax.  This heightened lymph flow helps white blood cells to circulate through your body more quickly and efficiently, thereby enhancing your immune system’s response to any virus or bacteria entering your body. 

Massage can also improve the way different layers of your tissue, such as muscle, tendon and fascia, glide and move over each other.  This gliding of one layer upon another is important for proper biomechanics of muscle contraction.  When the tendons, ligaments and sheaths that surround your nerves are able to slide freely, this allows movement that is smooth and full of ease. 

Another little-known benefit of massage is increased awareness of your body.  A strong mind-body connection can enhance the way you relate to body regions, and will improve muscle recruitment and movement by helping your proprioception; that is your ability to know where your body parts are positioned in space, and in relation to one another. Lastly, during these stressful and “physically distanced” times we are currently living through, massage can offer you a connection to the caring human touch that our bodies crave for diminishing the stress response, improving psychological health, and creating a feeling of well-being.     

To recap the benefits of soft tissue massage:

*Works out knots, tight spots and adhesions in muscles

*Increases blood, oxygen and nutrient circulation to your tissues

*Enhances lymph flow, boosting your body’s immune response

*Improves the glide of different layers of tissue over one another

*Increases body awareness, mind-body connection and proprioception

*Allows you to experience caring human touch, alleviating stress and creating feelings of psychological well-being