The Effects on the muscular system:
- Improve muscle tone
- Increased flexibility/suppleness
- Relaxation of tight muscles
- Release of knots
- Increase the efficiency of the muscles
- Aid the relief of fatigued muscle tissues
How does massage hold the potential to achieve this?
Typically, a muscle can contract 50% of their normal length and are able to stretch to approximately 150% of their normal length. However, due to factors such as stress and overuse the muscle can become in a permanent contracted or stretched state, thus causing an imbalance throughout the body. Contracted muscles will tease the correct posture out of alignment, this constricts the blood flow of the muscle and body adapts to the contracted muscle with a compensatory gate. A compensatory gate if left untreated over time can have a knock on effect on other soft tissues and joints with in the body. Remedial massage can increase the flexibility of the contracted muscle by gently increasing the flexibility of the muscle through a range of massage techniques and passive stretches, encouraging the muscle to relax and return to its original length.
The effects on the skeletal system;
- Increase range of motion
- Increase synovial fluid in joints
- Reduction of pain and friction in joints
- Maintain joint stability
Therefore, the aided release of tight and contracted muscles, can improve the whole posture of the dog, creating a positive effect of the entire skeletal system. Massage can help joints achieve an increased range of movement (ROM) by warming up the synovial fluid in the joint causes it to become more fluid and less viscous. Stretches can also increase the stimulation of synovial fluid as Movement stimulates the release of synovial fluid within the joints. The increase of synovial fluid in a joint can prevent movement from creating friction and pain; this is why massage can be effective in helping to maintain conditions such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.
Potential effects on the neurological system:
- Calming and soothing effect on tense, tired nerve pathways
- Improve the stimulation of nerve ending thus improving efficiency of transmission messages.
- Stimulation of PSNS stimulates immunity and slows down systems within the body expect digestion, encouraging regrowth and repair.
- Massage creates in-nervation by squeezing into the muscles, nerve messages can be impeded to the muscle for a fraction of a second. This could break the message to muscle that is telling it to ‘be tight’ and cause the muscle to relax.
- Form of pain control; as different receptors take different messages back to the brain, some travel quicker than others. Pleasurable messages travel quicker than painful ones, therefore the pain can be masked temporarily. (Pain gate control theory.)
The potential effects on the lymphatic system:
- Benefit lymph flow
- Ensures that glands and vessels keep fluid moving throughout the body
- Boost immunity
- Aid in the reduction of oedema
The potential effects on the endocrine system:
- Speed up the circulation of hormones
The potential effects of massage on the vascular system:
- Increase blood circulation throughout body
- Increase blood circulation to bones (arthritis maintenance)
- Creation of localised erythema
- Heat up cold extremities
- The release of red blood cells from bone marrow (indirect cause of massage)
- Increased oxygen and nutrients to muscles and removal of waste products such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid increase cell efficiency and rapid cell renewal.
- Encourages blood flow to the superficial capillaries.
- Improves venous return
- Can help lower blood pressure
- Tight muscles can create peripheral resistance (resistance to blood flow) causing pressure to build up at the heart; thus loosening tight muscles can also help alleviate this pressure.
Potential effects upon the respiratory system:
- Can induce deep breathing and decrease internal and external respiration.
- Reducing stress can reduce rapid breathing responses. Massage stimulates the PSNS and can cause breathing to slow and deepen. Deeper breathing can help improve posture.
- Stimulates the intercostal muscles causing the lungs to inspire, improving their tone and condition.
- This causes a domino effect by improving gaseous exchange in the lungs and at a cellular level throughout the body.
Potential effects on the immune system:
- Increases production of urine
- Release of waste products
Potential effects on the skin and coat:
- Improves coat and skin condition
- Increase skin circulation
- Reduce healing time of skin blemishes
- Desquamation may be increased
- Increased sebaceous gland secretion.
Overall massage can have a large effect upon all the systems in the body and can most importantly help regain balance within the body. Massage can be used beyond the effects of relaxation and muscle fatigue and can be used very effectively therapeutically to treat a range of conditions if carried out by a qualified practitioner.