How Massage Increases Circulation

by Dec 2, 2020

Oh, good circulation!  When your blood and lymph are flowing the way they should, your body is oh so happy.  How so, you ask?  It aids organ function, boosts immunity, and repairs muscle damage.  So keeping your circulation tiptop is pretty important!

In today’s world though, your circulation might be taking a beating from everyday annoyances.  Tight muscles, poor sleep, stress, and eating too many chips all negatively impact your circulation.  How many of us regularly experience one or all of those?  If you’re lethargic, unable to concentrate or have a wound that just won’t heal, there’s a chance that your blood and lymph are hitting a congested area.

Thankfully, there are natural ways to improve your circulation, and massage is one of them!  There’s your answer to the title of this blog!  Now how does massage do it?  Come along with me and I’ll explain how!

The Many Ways Massage Increases Circulation

The Direction of Correction

    • When pressure is applied to your skin, the blood and lymph below are moved along by the glides.  Sometimes your blood and lymph need a little push to get through the congested areas, and a pair of massaging hands will literally push them through.  Now that’s a straightforward explanation if I’ve ever heard one!
    • But simply pressing and gliding on the skin isn’t enough to get the circulation going.  Your therapist must massage in the direction of correction.  The direction of correction is always toward the heart.  Going any other way can defeat the whole purpose of the massage.
      • For example: Let’s say your therapist is massaging your arm and sends all the glides down into your fingers.  Well, your blood and lymph are just going to build up in your fingers and may start to swell.  All the waste in your lymph has nowhere to be neutralized, seeing as you don’t have lymph nodes in your fingers.  But you do have lymph nodes in your armpits, which are in the direction of your heart when you’re having the arms massaged!  Likewise, your therapist shouldn’t push all the glides into your toes either, as you also have lymph nodes in your groin.  The direction of correction is key for circulation!

Vasodilation

    • The widening of the vessels, or vasodilation, gives your blood more space to flow through.  And when is your body most likely to widen its vessels?  When it’s warmed.  The main function of vasodilation is to cool down the body, and the pressure involved in massage warms the body right up.  Cross fiber friction techniques are particularly helpful for vasodilation!  Give your blood some room and let it through!

Emotional Relaxation

    • Stress is the worst, isn’t it?  In addition to every other awful thing it does, it can spike your blood pressure.  But if you soothe that stress and improve your mood, that pressure can wind back down to where it should be.  That steady blood flow will send nutrients and oxygen to the parts affected by poor circulation (aka, all of them.)  Your brain, heart, lungs, and muscles will give a big thank you to that massage!
      • This is also why massage repairs muscular pain.  The nutrients your muscles need for a speedy recovery are delivered through good circulation.

Improved Sleep

    • After a massage, you really want to crawl into bed and pass out, right?  The happy chemicals released during massage lead to the secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone.  Poor sleep is linked to poor circulation, it risks buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries.  Now get that sleep and keep the fatty deposits away!

Now You Know How Massage Increases Circulation!

Yes!  Massage increases circulation.  And the most well-known benefits of massage can be attributed to that improvement!

Stay happy, healthy, and take care of that blood and lymph!

Katrina Jenkins

Katrina Jenkins

Author, Licensed Massage Therapist

Katrina Jenkins graduated from Towson University in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Health Science and worked as a nurse’s aide briefly before pursuing her true passion. She graduated from the Massage Therapy Institute of Colorado in April 2016 with honors and completed the Touch of Healers Scholarship Program the following summer. She has been a part of the Moyer Total Wellness Team since the summer of 2017.

Written by:

Katrina Jenkins

Photo Credit:

Canva by Science Photo Library

Resources:

“Improved Circulation.” Physio UK, www.physio.co.uk/treatments/massage/benefits-of-massage/improved-circulation.php.

National Sleep Foundation. “How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart.” Sleep Foundation, 28 July 2020, www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/health-impact/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart.

Wong, Cathy. “How Lymphatic Drainage Can Reduce Pain and Swelling.” Verywell Health, 8 Oct. 2020, www.verywellhealth.com/the-benefits-of-lymphatic-massage-89857.

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