Massage and its Effects on the Circulatory System

What is the circulatory system?

You might also know this as the cardiovascular system. There are two types of circulation around the body; blood and lymph flow. Have you noticed when your muscles feel tight? or when you’re sick and your glands are swollen? or you have some muscle pain? this can occur when circulation is poor. Massage Therapy helps promote blood and lymph flow through the muscles by causing friction between your skin and our hands. This helps dilate the blood vessels (making them bigger) to help the increase the flow and remove waste products from the blood. Increasing the blood/lymph flow is important for three main physical reasons: Increased Vasodilation (more room for more blood), Increased Capillarisation (uber for the muscles) and Increased Venous return (blood back to the heart).


Simplified below: Vasodilation is the widening of your blood vessels allowing the blood vessels to become more open allowing more blood flow around the body. Capillarisation feeds the muscles with nutrients transferred from the blood. Venous return is the rate of blood flow back towards the heart, less blood pumped around the body means the heart has to work harder. Massage Therapy works with the heart by reducing its work load improving the surface circulation. The relaxing response received from massage therapy has a further benefit in helping to reduce stress and anxiety via the sympathetic nervous system which is your fight or flight response. More information in the next article on the Respiratory System.

Anyone with existing heart conditions should seek medical advice before getting a massage.