Massage uses pressure to direct venous and lymphatic flow back towards the heart. It is therefore important that the movement is always in this direction so that there is no undue pressure on the closed valves in the veins. These valves prevent backflow of blood by only allowing blood to move in one direction (i.e. toward the heart). As the pressure from the heart pumping subsides and the blood moves back, the valves close and prevent any further back flow.
Massage may also be used to stretch muscle fibres. In this case, the direction is not as important as the strokes are much shorter and therefore pressure in the wrong direction is not significant enough to cause damage.
- Pain relief
- Decreases muscle tightness
- Induces relaxation, and relieves tension
- Promotes sleep (ideal for insomnia patients)
- Swelling reduction
- Loosens pulmonary secretions (helps clear lung mucus)