Massage is based on the idea of aiding the ability of healing, to help the body heal itself. How does it help us to heal ourselves? The mechanisms are classified into mechanical, physiologic, reflex, body mind, and energetic.
Mechanical mechanisms include compression, stretching, shearing, and broadening of tissues.
Physiologic mechanisms refer to the organic processes of the body such as changes at the cellular level, and changes at the tissue and organ system level.
Reflex mechanisms is when the pressure or movement in one body part affects the pressure or movement in another body part.
Mind-body mechanisms this is the interplay between the mind, body, and spirit. It also includes emotion, immunity, and health or disease processes
Energetic mechanisms is the change in the body's flow of energy. This is related to the acupuncture points used in acupuncture therapy.
Some of the effects on the body from massage include better sleep, decreased anxiety, decreased blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, increased blood flow to the limbs, and improved mood state.
Interestingly, the research shows mixed results of effectiveness with massage therapy. Some areas where it does show beneficial effects include decreased behavioral symptoms in children with both ADHD and autism. It has also been
shown to enhance the motor and muscle functioning of children with Down's syndrome (Freeman, 2009).
There are contraindications for massage therapy, so use caution, These contradictions include nausea, severe pain, fever, or a recent severe injury, rashes, open wounds, herpes simplex, bleeding, acute inflammation, cardiac arrhythmias, decreased sensation, and under the influence of alcohol and recreational drugs (Freeman, 2009).
Freeman, L. (2009). Complementary and alternative medicine (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier.