Everybody loves massage. But why? Is it the hour of uninterrupted silence and “me time”? Is it all the benefits on our soft tissue and nervous system? Or is it because it just feels good?
Here’s the science behind remedial massage and the real reason why it benefits you:
After an injury, the rate of healing is dependent on the lay down of good quality tissue. To do this, we need to direct nutrients via our blood stream to our muscles. Massage is one of the best ways to improve blood circulation. It also reduces scar tissue by aligning the soft-tissue fibres in an organised way, rather than random scattering of tissue, which once laid down is difficult to change.
The feeling of stiffness comes from the reduced flexibility of the muscle and connective tissues. Adhesions form between these layers, reducing the stretch of the muscles and making you feel tight and sore. Massage breaks down these adhesions and increases the mobility of your muscles, fascia and joints.
Some of the pains we feel are called ischaemic pain, meaning lack of blood flow. An example of this is the tightness that occurs in your shoulder when working at a computer or driving, or in your lower back when bending forward for a while. These pains occur due to the lack of fresh oxygenated blood entering the muscle. Massage increases the circulation to the tissue and relieves ischaemic pain.
Calms the nervous system
The feeling of stress and tension comes from our central nervous system a.k.a. our brain. When we are placed under stress our body produces a hormone called cortisol, which is useful for emergency situations, but dealing with it day-to-day is painful and limiting. Massage assists in “flushing out” this chemical from your muscles, making them feel relaxed and softer.
Improves mental performance
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness have been well-researched and show great benefits of our ability to concentrate and think clearly. Having time to reduce the “head-clutter” and wind-down is greatly beneficial to your mental health. Massage has a calming effect on our brain, often making you feel revitalised afterwards.
So, if you haven’t thought about using Remedial Massage to improve your health or have typically delayed ‘putting yourself first’, now is the time to book in and give it a try.
Written by Andrew Alexander
Physio @ Physio Connex Performance Clinic