Relaxation massage is a smooth, gentle style of massage designed to improve circulation, encourage overall relaxation, improve range of movement, relieve minor muscle pain, increase energy levels and improve overall physical and mental performance. It’s a good choice if you’re getting your first massage or if you just want to bring your stress level down. This is the massage to choose if you just want to chill out, and be pampered and spoiled.
It works by soothing the soft tissue of your body and encouraging relaxation. The massage therapist will start at a slow pace, applying light to medium pressure, rubbing, and/or manipulating your skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments throughout your body to promote relaxation. It is not a deep tissue massage, nor is it designed for working the deeper muscles of the body. It is just a gentle kneading and rubbing of the outer layers of the body tissue, covering large areas of the body including the back, legs, arms and neck.
What are the benefits or relaxation massage?
The massage is beneficial for increase oxygen in the blood and removal of waste products from the body as result of increased circulation and gently reducing some tension in the muscle tissue. It helps de-stress and loosen up mild muscle tension.
Massage causes physiological changes in your body through:
- The relaxation response, which is an involuntary, yet predictable response of the nervous system to massage techniques and touch
- Mechanical responses, which are physical effects that occur in the body when pressure is applied to the soft tissues
Together, these responses can produce physical and emotional benefits.
Many coaches, athletes and sports medicine personnel hold the belief, based on observations and experiences, that massage can provide several benefits to the body such as increased blood flow, reduced muscle tension and neurological excitability, and an increased sense of well-being. Massage can produce mechanical pressure, which is expected to increase muscle compliance resulting in increased range of joint motion, decreased passive stiffness and decreased active stiffness (biomechanical mechanisms). Mechanical pressure might help to increase blood flow by increasing the arteriolar pressure, as well as increasing muscle temperature from rubbing. Depending on the massage technique, mechanical pressure on the muscle is expected to increase or decrease neural excitability as measured by the Hoffman reflex (neurological mechanisms). Changes in parasympathetic activity (as measured by heart rate, blood pressure and heart rate variability) and hormonal levels (as measured by cortisol levels) following massage result in a relaxation response (physiological mechanisms). A reduction in anxiety and an improvement in mood state also cause relaxation (psychological mechanisms) after massage.
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