There have been many journals produced on the effects of different types of massage when it comes to the relief from stress or anxiety on the psychological side of things; and then the physiological effects due to massage. On the whole the majority of the journals that I have read around this topic of massage and the effects of massage have turned a positive outlook on having regular massage whether it be a sports massage or just a relaxing massage in a spa.
(Fraser & Kerr, 1993) measured the effects of a massage on the anxiety levels of elderly residents. They had three groups with one group receiving massage, one receiving conversation only and the other no intervention. They measured the anxiety levels of the patients before and after through the use of a questionnaire, electromyography readings, heart rate and blood pressure readings. They ran this test across 4 consecutive evenings and found that those patients in the group with massage had a statistically significant difference to the mean levels for anxiety in the patients. (Fraser & Kerr, 1993) recommended the use of massage when caring for elderly patients as they can promote relaxation and improve communication between patients and carers.
One of the main psychological effects that massage helps with is to lower anxiety. Anxiety is caused by a hormone in our body’s called cortisol. This hormone is used for the flight or fight mechanism; this will increase the blood pressure and heart rate when needed as an involuntary response. This higher the level of cortisol with in the body can lead to headaches, insomnia and digestive problems. By having a regular massage this can lead to a greater amount of oxytocin and serotonin being released into the body which can help with lower levels of anxiety and stress. This decrease in stress and anxiety will help to increase the mood levels a patient feel’s. Patients with high levels of stress and anxiety may suffer from psychological issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or depression; by increasing their mood levels may help to diminish the bad thoughts in their head from these disorders.
During a massage, the body will secrete a greater amount of endorphins. Endorphins will interact with the pain receptors in the brain; with these being secreted during a massage a patient’s level of pain is likely to be decreased. If a patient has chronic pain from an injury such as patella tendonitis, a massage can help to alleviate some of the pain that is felt during day-to-day living. This will then allow a patient more freedom due to a decrease in their pain levels. These will have a greater level of relaxation for the patient and allow them too really let go from their stresses. This will also impact the physiological responses of massage by helping to lower the heart rate and blood pressure.
On the physiological side of things there are many benefits to be taken from a massage. Firstly, post injury you are likely to have some fibrous tissue or scar tissue formation around the injury site. A massage can help to move this into a mobile tissue and help it to broken down. Secondly, a massage will increase heart rate and blood pressure; this will then help in getting more oxygen around the body and also help with getting rid of waste products. An example of this would be surrounding the gastrocnemius and the soleus. The formation of varicose veins is due to the valves preventing the back-flow of blood to cave in causing these veins to appear very prominently on the legs. By having regular massage this can aid the venous return and also draw the waste products out.
I personally feel that, with these few effects from massage mentioned in this piece it would be silly not to get a massage. With effects such as a decrease in stress and anxiety and also the removal of waste products it will be inclusive for all.