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Muscles Matter

Massage Therapy

How Massage Therapy Works


Massage can address the source of pain by blocking painful signals from reaching the brain.  Pain often begins with spasms that reduce local circulation.  Fascial restrictions develop, leaving a decrease in nutrient and oxygen delivery to the tissues. 

To combat this massage will:

  • Increase circulation; 10 min of massage will double blood flow, which lasts up to 40 minutes after treatment (Wood, Becker, 1981)


  • Decrease swelling: Specialized massage techniques (MLD) are proven to increase lymphatic flow by 9 times the normal rate of lymph flow.  (Yates, 1990)


  • Eliminate spasms: Clinical application of techniques applied to gamma motor system; which effects your muscle tone, decrease the spasm and increase the total resting length of muscles.  (Gelb, 1985, DeLisa, Gans, 1993)


  • Reducing fascial restrictions:  Clinically, massage is effective in reducing adhesions and fibrosis in sub acute and chronic injuries.  (DeLisa, Gans, 1993) 


  • Treatment of muscular dysfunction:  Trigger points were eradicated from muscles following 10 separate treatments of repetitive massage.  (Travell, Simons, 1992)


  • Reduce stress and improve immune  function:  Stress is known to decrease the immune response, resulting in susceptibility to illness.  (Selye, 1974; Porth, 1990) 


  • Promotes whole body well being.  Massage can be shown to have a positive effect on almost any condition.  (Knaster, 1994)


Massage therapy is one of the oldest methods of healing, as the practice of therapeutic massage can be traced back nearly 4,000 years. Statistics from both Health Canada 1 and the American Massage Therapy Association 2 show that millions of North Americans use it today.

Massage therapy refers to a comprehensive health management strategy focusing on the application of various techniques to positively affect the soft tissues and joints of the body. Massage techniques most commonly include pressure and compression, kneading, frictioning, and mobilizing to improve the health and condition of the muscles, tendons, skin, fascia or connective tissue of the body.

Today massage is thought of as a holistic therapy that complements medical treatment. The "Physician's Guide to Therapeutic Massage" shows that massage can decrease pain, improve range of motion, improve mood, aid in the circulation of blood and lymph flow, reduce muscle and joint soreness, and improve sleep.


1 Health Canada (2003)Health Policy Research Bulletin. Retrieved May 10, 2005, from
2 American Massage Therapy Association. (2001). Massage Therapy Consumer Fact Sheet
DeLisa, JoelA., and Bruce M. Gans. 1993. Rehabilitation Medicine: Principles and Practice, 2nd Ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.
Gelb, Harold. 1985. Clinical Management of Head, Neck and TMJ Pain and Dysfunction, 2nd Ed. Philadelphia: W.B. Sanders Company
Gerwin, Robert D, 2002. Myofascial and Visceral Pain Syndromes: Visceral-Somatic Pain Representations, The Haworth Press, Inc.
Knaster, Mirka. 1994. “Researching Massage as Real Therapy.” Massage Therapy Journal Vol. 33. 3:56-112.
Porth, Carol Mattson. 1990. Patholophysiology 3rd Ed. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.
Selye, Hans. 1974. Stress Without Distress.  New York: J.B. Lippincott.
Travell, Janet G., and David Simons. 1992. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual, Vol. 2: The Lower Extremities. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.
Yates, John 1990. A Physician’s guide to Therapeutic Massage: It’s Physiological Effects and Their Application to Treatment.  Vancouver: Massage Therapists Association of British Columbia.