Understanding How Massage Actually Works.

Understanding how massage actually works and finding out how to get enough is key to quick recovery.

Nexxbar Philosophy: Everyone deserves to be the best they can be. 
With Nexxbar you can access focused daily massage and positively contribute to your pain reduction through nerve stimulation, as well as increased mobility and blood circulation throughout the body thereby enhancing the benefits of conventional treatment for injury and recovery. This allows you to gain the strength and mobility you need and get you back to your favorite activities as quickly and efficiently as possible. Relief is literally within reach.

Feel stiff? Tight? Think your range of motion is uncomfortably limited? These things often go together, but they don’t always, and they definitely aren’t the same. Wrapping your head around the difference is good human body owner’s manual stuff.

It’s a common symptom, and people are forever trying to fix it. They are stretching and contorting themselves in hot yoga classes. They are trying to correct their posture. They go to chiropractors for “adjustments” and massage therapists for “release.” The most common words in massage therapy offices are “You're really tight”… and they are mostly meaningless words. Concern about tightness is at the heart of the fascia fad.

Experiencing muscle tightness after workout or your favorite activity? Tight muscles are not only frustrating and painful, but can also limit movement. Worst of all, they can make it harder to stick to your exercise program or daily routine. Knowing how to manage and prevent tight muscles will help keep you exercising.  Muscles can tighten up for a number of reasons.  Times when muscle tightness can occur are during periods of prolonged inactivity, during exercise, and after exercise or a long day of work.


How Does Massage Work?

Massage causes physiological changes in your body through:

  • The relaxation response, which is an involuntary, yet predictable response of the nervous system to massage techniques and touch
  • Mechanical responses, which are physical effects that occur in the body when pressure is applied to the soft tissues  

Together, these responses can produce physical and emotional benefits.

What is the relaxation response?

In a massage, a caring, safe touch is an invitation to relax. This, together with pain relief, generally produces a "relaxation response."

The relaxation response is a state in which your heart and breathing rate slow, your blood pressure goes down, your production of stress hormones decreases, and your muscles relax. The relaxation response also seems to increase the available level of serotonin, which is a chemical in the body that positively affects emotions and thoughts. While this information is promising, more studies are needed to directly confirm the relationship between massage and levels of serotonin in the brain.

The relaxation response may decrease the physical effects of stress and reduce the risks associated with stress, such as hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia, anxiety, insomnia, persistent fatigue, sexual dysfunction, digestive disorders, and psychological issues--to name a few.

What are mechanical responses?

The physical manipulation in massage has two major physical effects:

  • Increase in blood and lymph circulation  
  • Relaxation and normalization of the soft tissue (muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments), which releases nerves and deeper connective tissues

Improving Circulation

Massage is believed to improve blood and lymph circulation. This is probably due partly to the physical manipulation of soft tissue and partly to the chemicals released as part of the relaxation response.

Improved circulation can enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to muscle cells. As cellular health improves, tissues function more efficiently. More efficient functioning leads to the removal of waste products and may increase the absorption of excess fluids and reduce swelling in soft tissues.

Relaxing Tissue

Massage therapy relaxes muscle tissue, which reduces painful contractions and spasms. Massage can also reduce nerve compression. To understand this, consider that when muscles are contracted, they sometimes compress the nerves around them. When these muscles are relaxed, the nerves are no longer compressed, and, in theory, can get proper nutrients and operate more efficiently. The nerves can assume their normal work of transmitting messages to and from the brain, which improves functioning of the muscles and organs.

Touching the skin or applying pressure relaxes muscles, tendons, and ligaments. In addition, while some of the deeper tissues of the body, such as deep spinal musculature, cannot be easily accessed by a massage therapist, the release of more superficial layers of muscles may also affect these deeper layers. This can lead to both superficial and deep tissues finding a better alignment and balance.

Organs can also benefit from massage, as they share neurological pain pathways with muscles, bones, and nerves. When muscles, bones, or nerves are distressed, organs can sometimes reflect distress and dysfunction. For example, low back pain can intensify menstrual cramps and menstrual cramps can cause low back muscles to tense. Massage can therefore improve symptoms associated with the functioning of both the organ and the muscles.