Who doesn’t love a good massage? Plenty of people are familiar with the wonderful experience of massage, and most are aware of the many benefits of registered massage therapy. What few of us realize, however, is the power of massage in reducing the effects of aging.
Understanding the Effects
Aging is a natural process in which there is a progressive alteration of normal body structures and function, along with a reduced ability to withstand stress and disease. Over time, our tissues heal slower, have more scarring, and receive fewer nutrients and decreased blood supply; all of which contributes to a slower metabolic rate. Our tissues lose elasticity and mobility, and a kind of stiffening occurs. The good news is that massage therapy can help counteract many of these issues and provide exceptional anti-aging care. Let’s have
a look at how.
Digestion & Massage
Our digestive system becomes increasingly compromised as time goes by. It is the route of entry for all the nutrients our bodies need, and a major system for excreting toxins. As we age, secretions from the internal mucous membranes decrease and there is less motility, strength and tone of the digestive tract. The response of our autonomic nervous system (ANS), which regulates enzyme and hormone production, also reduces over time. This leads to decreased absorption of the nutrients required for our cells to thrive.
Massage therapy can aid our digestive systems to counteract these effects by physically encouraging the movement of food through our bowels, allowing for better absorption of nutrients and excretion of toxins. Massage also stimulates the ANS reflex response, which in turn improves production of needed enzymes and hormones. Lastly, by improving circulation to and from our organs and surrounding tissues, massage promotes healthy function through better absorption and delivery of vital nutrients.
Skin, Immunity & Massage
Our largest organ, the skin is mainly responsible for protection (or body defense). As well as providing a physical barrier to outside intruders, the skin has defense mechanisms to deal with an attack. Perspiration discourages penetration of invaders, while Langerhans cells in the outer layer of the skin identify and process them, and macrophages (a type of white blood cell) in the inner layer of the skin engulf and destroy them. As we age, we have fewer sebaceous (sweat) glands, so the skin dries out and breaks and becomes more prone to infection. The same happens to the Langerhans and macrophages cells, resulting in a less efficient protection system– and higher risk of invasion.
Massage therapy has been shown to increase the activity of our immune systems, allowing for better protection against infection and disease. Circulation techniques improve the flow of needed nutrients and defense cells to injured tissues, thereby encouraging healing. A reduction of stress through calming massage techniques also allows our organs to produce the hormones and enzymes needed to protect our skin and other tissues, further improving our immunity.
Bones, Joints, Muscles & Massage
Our musculoskeletal system is made up of the bones, joints, and muscles that give us the ability to move about in this world. As we age we produce less insulin, making it more difficult for us to process excess sugars. The excess glucose molecules bind to random proteins, creating cross-links that lead to stiffening and loss of elasticity in our tissues. Furthermore, we become less resistant to oxidative damage by free radicals that disrupt our lipid, protein, and nucleic acid functions, which leads to wrinkles, hardened arteries, and stiffening of joints. Dehydration of all of our cells and tissues causes decreased lubrication and more friction between our tissues, resulting in fibrosis and a reduced ability to withstand loading. Spasms, strains, breakage, and general inflammation all occur in part because of changes as we get older.
Massage therapy is one of the most effective therapies in dealing with these musculoskeletal issues. Muscle relaxation, decrease of spasms, improved resting length of muscles, reduction of trigger points/fibrosis/adhesions are all recognized benefits of massage therapy treatments. Furthermore, Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs) are trained in creating rehabilitative exercise programs including strength and cardio training – the anti-aging benefits of which are
Stress & Massage
As we age, our ability to cope with stress is affected. The neurological system’s slowing nerve impulses results in diminished processing of regulatory mechanisms of our organs and other reflex responses. The endocrine system’s altered hormone production leads to muscle atrophy, decreased metabolism, atherosclerosis, acidosis, inflammation, poor stress resistance, increased blood glucose levels, increase in tumors, and osteoporosis. Every part of our body is affected by stress, and this increases exponentially with age.
Anything you can do to combat stress is productive and beneficial for the body as we get older; even if you seek massage only for relaxation, you are still receiving anti-aging benefits. Treatments will help maintain and improve neurological function and hormone production, leading to better regulation of all of our internal body processes. Massage therapy has been shown not only to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, but also to give an overall feeling of wellbeing. Is that not an ideal feeling to have in life?
Elizabeth Belfry, RMT, is the owner of Calm Massage Therapy & Wellness Studio Ltd. founded in 2012. Located at the edge of downtown Victoria, BC, Calm is a small health clinic providing massage therapy care in a tranquil, vintage-boutique styled setting. Our experienced and knowledgeable RMTs customize each treatment to suit your individual needs and are skilled in techniques ranging from soft Swedish massage to deep tissue therapy. Let us help you incorporate massage into your Ageless Living health routine. Be Calm with us! 835 Fisgard St. Victoria, BC. 250-382-CALM (2256)