Mark Chandler, MD Marchan Medical, LLC
The use of portable massagers has grown in popularity over the past number of years. Many benefits such as muscle relaxation and a soothing feeling, have been documented as helpful effects for pain relief, muscle tightness, and soreness for areas from the neck to the bottom of the feet.
However, I believe that there is actually a more important outcome from massage treatments—an increase in blood flow!
Blood is the lifeline of all tissues in the body. It brings life giving oxygen to the cells, enabling them to produce energy. Increased blood flow has the following important benefits:
- Transports nutrients necessary for cell function, growth, and repair.
- It helps remove all waste and toxins away from the cell so they can function normally.
- A good blood supply is absolutely necessary for adequate healing to take place.
What does this have to do with massage? Blood flow is dependent on two things. Most people just think of the heart pumping blood through the arteries to the cells as the important part. Indeed, without a good flow of blood from the heart, life would be impossible. However, the second part of the system is equally important.
The blood has to get back to the heart to pick up more oxygen and nutrients. They are dependent on the muscles moving around them to pass the blood back to the heart. In swollen, inflamed tissues, especially in the legs and feet, this process may grind to a halt. The result is more swelling, poisons building up around the cells, no oxygen supply, and a general worsening of whatever condition caused the problem to start with. In effect, the blood flow is dammed up. This is where external massage may be most helpful.
By vibrating and oscillating the tissues in the area, the blood is “pumped” into the veins where it can go back to the heart to be transported again. This effect can be seen by an increase in warmth in the area treated. Over time, with an adequate blood flow stimulated by the massager, the swelling is decreased, reducing the blockade effect to blood flow, and eventually the area can heal itself. If the massage is coupled with regular exercise, the effects are even greater.
So, the next time you treat yourself with a massager, just remember that you are not only temporarily feeling relaxed and less tense, but you are actually gaining long term benefits from an increased blood flow long after you turn the machine off.