Throughout the philosophies of Eastern countries is the premise that there is a force or vibration common to all living matter. It is believed that the smooth flow of this force is the predetermination of good health.
When this flow is out of balance in the body, the person experiences physical illness and a sense of uneasiness. Techniques have been developed that in some cases detect imbalances in the flow of the force in the body and affect it in such a way as to bring it back into balance, or homeostasis.
It is important to understand the influence of massage on circulation of fluids in the human body, because both the lymphatic and venous circulations are accelerated by massage movements. These movements are applied from the extremities toward the heart stimulating lymphatic circulation. The capillaries, which end in the tissues, absorb lymph and assist its flow into the lymphatic vessels. Lymphatic chains can be compared to pumping stations. While blood is being returned to the heart by way of the veins, the Lymphatics are draining the tissues of interstitial fluid needed for nourishment and growth. Lymph drainage stimulates the activity of the lymph centers, increases the production of lymphocytes and lymph corpuscles, and improves body metabolism. The natural movements of the body such as walking, standing, and exercising aids this process, but correct massage more fully augments the working of the lymph system.
Scientific body massage procedures affect the quality and quantity of blood coursing through the circulatory system. With cellular nutrition and elimination are favored. The work of the heart is lessened due to the improvement in surface circulation. Under the influence of massage, the blood making process is improved, resulting in an increase in the number of red and white blood cells.
Massage may influence the blood and lymph vessels either by direct mechanical action on the vessel walls or by reflex action through the vaso-motor nerves. Pressure against the vessels not only tones their muscular walls but also propels the movement of the blood. The vaso-motor nerves, by controlling the relaxing and constricting of the blood vessels, determine the amount of blood which will reach the area being massaged.
Massage movements affect blood and lymph channels in the flowing ways:
1. Light stroking produces an almost instantaneous though temporary dilation of the capillaries, while deep stroking brings about a more lasting dilation and flushing of the massaged area.
2. Light percussion causes a contraction of the blood vessels, which tend to relax as the movement is continued.
3. Friction hastens the flow of blood through the superficial veins, increases the permeability of the capillary beds, and produces an increased flow of interstitial fluid. This creates a healthier environment for the cells.
4. Petrissage or kneading stimulates the flow of blood through the deeper arteries and veins.
5. Friction and kneading aid the lymph circulation by draining the tissues of waste products.
Medical massage if applied appropriately, improves overall health by enhancing the circulation system, strengthening metabolism, boosting up the immune system, speeding up toxin flushing, and activating healing mechanism.