CHARLOTTE – We constantly hear that massage increases circulation. The thought behind the process is that applying outside friction to the skin heats up the skin and stimulates blood flow. Muscles are affected in the same way, with the friction warming up musculature and stimulating circulation so good nutrients can flow in, and stagnate fluids can be pushed out.
Research supports that massage in general does cause an increase in circulation or blood flow. When you have an issue with a muscle, for example, your shoulder, if I work across the muscle and do some myofascial release I will almost instantly see redness. The redness is where the massage has pushed the stagnant blood and lymph out of the muscle in question and allowed the new, enriched blood and lymph to come into the area. Thus, an increase in circulation occurs. Another example: I had a client come in previously with a shoulder issue. She commented her low back was bothering her from yard work. As I started the process of loosening up her back (because a loose back should certainly relieve shoulder issues), I noticed the increased redness over her back (the entire back was red except where her spine lay).
This affects where the redness shows up can sometimes cause a prickly sensation or even temporary itching, but the results are positive. This simply means that we are pushing the bad stuff out of your muscles and pushing the good stuff in. Talk to your therapist about the positives of massage.