Massage is a general term for pressing, rubbing, and manipulating the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. It increases blood flow to the target muscles, accelerating the delivery of the nutrients they need to function properly and, at the same time, eliminating metabolic waste that can cause pain and delay recovery. Massage therapy relaxes muscle tissue, reducing contractions and painful spasms. It can also reduce nerve compression by allowing muscles to relax and not compress the nerves that surround them.
Nerves can then assume their normal function of transmitting messages to and from the brain, improving muscle and organ function. Beyond the benefits for specific conditions or illnesses, some people enjoy massage because it often produces feelings of affection, comfort and connection. Research has found that massage can reduce pain intensity and relieve muscle tension, lower heart rate and blood pressure, and improve symptoms of anxiety, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. To understand how massage works on muscles, researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada studied post-exercise massage on muscle tissue.
They found that it stimulated the production of energy-generating structures called mitochondria and reduced inflammatory proteins. The massaged muscles had fewer damaged fibers and signs of inflammation, which could explain why they recovered faster. It also stimulated mitochondria, the tiny power plants within cells that convert glucose into the energy essential for cell function and repair. Massage can be a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being.
Most states regulate massage therapists through licensing, registration, or certification requirements. While this information is promising, more studies are needed to directly confirm the relationship between massage and serotonin levels in the brain. Therefore, massage can improve symptoms associated with the functioning of both the organ and muscles.