Swedish Massage

Swedish Massage physically increase cell metabolism, hastens healing, increases range of motion and relieves pain. Psychologically, massage may relieve fatigue, reduce anxiety and tension and promote relaxation.

Effects on the Body

Mechanical effects result from the direct pressure of the massage techniques on the body (i.e. Compression of the tissue assists venous and lymphatic flow, petrissage and friction disrupt adhesions; assisted stretching techniques lengthen shortened muscles and increase the range of motion of a joint).

Physiological Effects

Result from the physical and chemical changes that occur when the body is massaged (i.e. Removal of metabolic waste and inflammatory by-products; increase in blood flow and soft tissue; increase cellular metabolism; neurologically and chemically mediated arteriolar and capillary dilation; localized skin hyperemia and an increase in skin temperature and reduction of pain by affecting the nervous system

Effects of Massage on the Various Body Systems

Circulatory Systems - Blood and Lymph:

The blood circulatory system delivers oxygen, nutrients and other important components to the cells. It also removes carbon dioxide, metabolic by-products and other substances including numerous chemical compounds which can be toxic to the body if found in sufficient quantities.

The lymphatic system supplements the blood circulatory system returning interstitial fluid (lymph) to the blood. This system is not pressurized by the heart and depends on the contraction of voluntary skeletal muscle to move the lymph throughout the body. Lymphatic capillaries are more permeable than blood vessels and accept larger particles, the kind which result form cell breakdown. These materials, along with foreign substances (virus and bacteria), are removed, broken down or consumed by lymphocytes located throughout this system. This increase in blood and lymph circulation is the most widely recognized physiological effect of massage.

Massage facilitates the removal of metabolic waste and inflammatory by-products by the increase in blood flow and also by increased lymph formation and removal. The delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells is enhanced through massage because of the improved vascular and lymphatic circulation, reducing ischemia.

Local blood flow is increased by arteriolar and capillary dilation. Studies show that massage; through compression, empties venous beds, lowering venous pressure and increasing capillary dilation resulting in localized skin hyperemia and increased skin temperature; results in changes in blood flow induced by autonomic vascular reflexes, affecting blood pressure and heart rate (initially increases in and then reduction in). Conventional massage may produce an increase in blood pressure and heart rate; however slow stroking massage reduces hearts rate and blood pressure.

Studies also show that: massage can affect a histamines and acetylcholine, which results in vasodilation and increases in blood flow; lymph flow is increased because massage opens up blood capillaries that may be closed, increasing the total capillary surface area, and increases venous pressure which in turn increases the capillary pressure, resulting in increased filtration and rate of lymph formation. Applying massage in a proximal direction reduces edema because of the resulting shift of edema fluid from the tissues to the blood and the increase in urine volume and excretion.

Integumentary System:

Massage may improve the condition of the skin by increasing the blood flow (resulting in a rise in skin temperature and perspiration, which facilitates sebaceous secretions).

Immune System:

Recent studies at the University of Miama Medical School's Touch Research Institute concluded that the immune system is positively affected by massage. There was a significant increase in Natural Killer (NK) cell numbers in HIV control group. There was also a significant decrease in anxiety and increase in relaxation. The study concluded that the decrease in anxiety was significantly correlated with the increase in NK cell numbers.

Muscular System:

Massage may promote muscle relaxation, relief of spasms and cramps, relief from muscular pain syndromes, prevention and treatment of delayed muscle soreness, improved athletic performance and enhanced recovery, rehabilitation following muscle injury and the treatment of immobilized or paralyzed muscle.

Nervous System:

The nervous system controls all soft tissue. The muscle cell depends on its motor neutron to initiate contractions, relaxation and determine its resting length. The muscle cell's health is dependent on the constant electrical energy received from the nerve. If the muscle doesn't receive its electrical energy, it will begin to atrophy. Noxious irritation of tissue causes nociceptive responses, which result in the symptom of pain. This information is ultimately transmitted to the brain by the peripheral nerves and spinal cord.

Respiratory System:

Chronic lung disease causes certina musculoskeletal changes when the accessory muscles become involved in helping the patient breathe (i.e. decreased ribcage mobility and stiff neck). The patient is anxious and tense due to these changes. Massage may produce relaxation through a temporary reduction in anxiety and tension. Chest percussion, in combination with postural drainage, is also used for certain congestive respiratory disorders.


Raquel Fontes, LMT

(505) 463 - 6879



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