Thursday, April 2, 2009

the effects of massage strokes

The effects of massage strokes

The effects of massage on the autonomic nervous system
The definition of the autonomic nervous system is the “division of the peripheral nervous system supplying impulses to smooth muscle, cardiac muscle and glands” (Salvo, 2007). The autonomic nervous system is split into two types of nervous systems, the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
The Parasympathetic nervous system is referred to as the “house- keeping system” (Salvo, 2007). This is because it is the one that is in charge of the “head and trunk of the body (Noonan, 2006). So when the body is massaged with a slow stroke the body becomes relaxed and the bodies’ parasympathetic nervous system goes to work and repairs what is needed to be repaired through out the body.
The sympathetic nervous system is referred to as the “fight or flight system” (Salvo, 2007). “Activation of this system is the bodies’ way of dealing with stress real or perceived and will increase heart rate, blood is diverted to muscles, peristalsis is decreased, and adrenaline and epinephrine are secreted into the blood stream. The sweat glands are activated and the bodies alert level is heightened” (effects of massage on Autonomic Nervous System, 2008). So if someone comes in really stressed out and is just having a bad day or has never had a massage before, their body will be using the sympathetic nervous system. But once relaxed the body changes over to parasympathetic nervous system which is what we want when we are massaging.

The effects of massage strokes
The massage strokes that we have learnt in our basic massage class are effleurage. This is used to warm up the area that the therapist is going to massage. Petrissage which is a technique that uses moves such as cross-over, ringing, kneading and tapotement, which is a technique that uses moves such as chopping, pounding and cupping and touching and holding. The difference between these strokes is when we use then and what part of the body we use them on.
Touching and holding is the way we communicate with the body, this gives the clients body time to relax and enhances security for them. With touch we learnt what part of your hands we should be using, whether it is the thumb, palm, heal or fingers they all feel very different and that is why we use them all.
Effleurage is like the mother of the Swedish massage stroke it is used to say hello to the body and get the blood moving around the body part that is being massaged and then it is also used to finish off and say good by to that body part. After we have warmed up that body part we then move to a deeper massage stroke,
“Petrissage, which is probably the most valuable massage strokes. It encourages waste products to leave muscles and aids the circulation through the veins back to the heart” (Basic massage techniques, 2003). Petrissage is where we can get specific in massaging certain muscles in the area that we are focusing on.
Then after we have finished our time on that body part we finish of with effleurage, going back to a superficial stroke. If our client is going back to work or we just want to get the body going again we use a stroke called tapotement it is a quick movement which stimulates the muscle and gets it going again and out of relaxation mode.
A fast compression will stimulate muscle and increase the tension and a slower compression has a more relaxing effect. It is a technique that is good for stress release of the body.
Vibration is a movements performed with fingers tips or hands. The movement includes shaking, quivering, trembling or rocking. It can also be quite relaxing for the client.

Other effects of massage
Blood flow is one of the important aspects when it comes to a massage. This is because, “When a muscle is at rest it receives a small but constant blood supply so when the muscle is massaged the blood flow increases” (The benefits of massage). After the massage “The oxygen capacity of the blood can increase 10-15%” (Massage and Health, 2007). This is showing that if you have any problems with your body one of the best things to get rid of the problem is a massage.
“Lymph flow can be directly stimulated by the action of manual lymph drainage (Vodder Technique)” (The benefits of massage). “Lymph is a milky white fluid that drains impurities and waste away from the tissue cells and a component of these wastes is toxins which are the by-products of metabolism. So, it is a vital to our health” (Massage and Health, 2007). Not only is a good massage going to help move lymph but exercise, which involves muscular contraction the pumping effect moves the lymph (Massage and Health, 2007)
Muscle tension is normally the reason that people go to get a massage, so the effect that a massage has on a client with muscle tension is that “it loosens contracted, shortened, hardened muscles and stimulate weak, flaccid muscles” (Massage and Health, 2007) and gets the blood flowing and movement back in the muscle.
Connective tissue is a “tissue that makes up most of the body and helps transport nutrients, defends the body against disease, assists in blood clotting, and acts as a supportive framework” (salvo, 2007), so with a massage and getting movement across the skin we are helping the connective tissue transport the goods and fight the bad things of the body.
Digestion has an effect on the body, because when the body is massaged you relax and it increases the chance of you needing to go toilet. “It increases the production of gastric juices, saliva, and urine. There is also an increased excretion of nitrogen, inorganic phosphorus, and salt” (Massage and Health, 2007). This is not a bad thing as when you go toilet after a massage you are getting rid of all the bad toxins in your body.
High blood pressure and a massage go well together it is recommended that it decreases your blood pressure and helps you lead a healthy life style (salvo, 2007). After the massage it is said that your blood pressure is decreased for about 40 minutes (Effects and Benefits of Massage, 2009)
“Massage relieve acute and chronic pain. Massages can promote recovery from fatigue and from minor aches and pains” (Massage and Health, 2007). This is also good when it comes to sleeping pattern. As after a massage a substance called somatostatin is normally released and without this you my experience pain when sleeping.
Massage is said to improve your mood. “The mental health status and mood is improved after massage” (salvo, 2007)

Sleep and massage work well it “causes a decrease in delta brain waves, which are linked to sleep and relaxation” (Salvo, 2007). With this effect some clients may find it occurs but others might not.
When massaged your concentration “encourages faster and more elaborate development of the hippocampal region of the brain; this is related to increased memory performance” (Salvo, 2007)
“Massage increases the available levels of two brain chemicals as well as other neurohormones that support satiety. Research indicates that massage increases the availability of all neurohormones affecting brain chemistry, providing the recipient of the massage with a sense of well being” (Dickey). This effect gives the client that feel good feeling. Bonding is the effect we get between the client and the therapist. The feeling of trust that the client is giving the therapist the right to touch their body.

Salvo, S. (2007).Massage therapy. Principles and practice (3rd ed.). Missouri: Saunders.

Noonan, T. (2006). Autonomic Nervous system. Retrieved March 23,2009, from

Basic massage technique. (2003). 3.Petrissage - Kneading, Pulling and Wringing. Retrieved March 23, 2009, from

Daytona Massage New Age Touch. (2008). Effects of Massage on Autonomic Nervous System. Retrieved March 23,2009, from

The benefits of massage. The benefits of massage. Retrieved March 24, 2009, from

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Professional Massotherapy Inc. The physiological mystery of massage. Retrieve april 14th, 2009 from