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Explanation of Therapeutic Effects of Compression Massage.

from DeeperWork’sTM Step This Way,

Deeperwork’s compressions are direct applications of pressure into a muscle, usually against underlying bone. It is a powerful bodywork tool with long-lasting results.

Compressions provide LONG LASTING RESULTS:

“Massage therapy has a limited arsenal of therapeutic remedies. The massage practitioner can count only on different forms of pressure (including vibration), stretching, and the activation of temperature receptors. Between these three modalities, pressure is the main therapeutic tool, with stretching and temperature receptors’ activation playing a supportive role in the treatment.”
- Ross Turchaninov, M.D. MASSAGE & BODYWORK, October/November 2000

POWERS OF COMPRESSION –expanded explanation:

1. Relaxes

Compressions fire the stretch reflex – hypertonic muscles relax. Pressure applied by foot or hand stretches spindle cells and triggers a reflexive contraction. This contraction protects the muscle from being over-stretched and it’s followed by general relaxation of the muscle.

2. Cleanses

Compressions initially constrict muscle fibers and capillaries – metabolites (byproducts of muscles doing work) are eliminated.

Momentary reflexive tightening of the muscle (the stretch reflex) compresses venous and lymph channels. This tightening forces metabolites out of muscle tissue and prevents tissue irritation caused by the stasis of lactic, hyaluronic and carbonic acids.

3. Feeds

Compressions release histamines that dilate capillaries – increased cellular nutrition results.

Compressions cause local ischemia (pressure to blanching) and, when released, this “emptying” causes a return flooding of blood into the treated area. The dilation of the arterioles and capillaries is caused, in part, by a histamine release. This increased arterial blood flow, evinced by a superficial redness (hyperemia), feeds and oxygenates at the cellular level. The histamine release is caused by the *irritant effect of the compressions. “Reserve” capillaries enhancing cellular nutrition are also called into play by the ischemic compression.

*Note – As regards histamine release, all massage strokes, even though they feel good, are “irritants”.

4. Speeds

Compressions release acetylcholine – faster nerve firing results.

Acetylcholine formation following compression massage intensifies the contractility of skeletal muscles. Acetylcholine concentrates on the neuromuscle junction and facilitates fast action potentials …a real boon for pre-event sports massage. This action can also play a role in relieving spasticity.

5. Heals

Compressions accelerate healing – procollagen fiber formation is stimulated.

“Mechanical stimuli in the form of massage or any other type of soft-tissue mobilization repetitively applied to the place of injury are able to increase collagen production by the stimulation of fibroblasts’ functions and by attracting new cells from neighboring areas. The correct orientation of collagen fibers is an equally important element. Are mechanical stimuli somehow able to affect this process as well? We should answer this question positively. Numerous scientific reports support this conclusion.” – Dr. Ross Turchaninov, Therapeutic Massage: A Scientific Approach 1.

Note – Dr. Turchaninov compiled and analyzed recent scientific research studies as to pressure’s effect on cellular and sub-cellular levels. We highly recommend Dr. Turchaninov’s publications. Medical Massage, Vol. I, 1998 and Therapeutic Massage: A Scientific Approach, 2000.

6. Pumps

Active or passive post-compression stretches – improves circulation and capillarization.

Stretching creates a mechanical effect on the myogenic tone of vascular walls. This results in a vasoconstriction during the stretch that changes to a vasodilatation when the stretch is released. Turchainov reports research that noted up to a 30% increase in blood circulation in passively stretched muscles. This stretching also results in increased capillarization.

7. Rejuvenates

Compressions stretch and distort the ground substance of deep and superficial fascia – increases range of motion and tissue rejuvenation … delays senescence.

Prolonged compressions heat, stretch and energize ground substance. The extra energy (primarily in the form of heat) is absorbed by the ground substance. It transforms this fascial component from 'gel' (a semi-solid state) towards 'sol' (a more fluid, youthful form).

8. Treats

Pain-free movement – ischemic pressure inhibits/ eliminates trigger points.

Pressure to blanching at the trigger point creates a local hypoxia followed by a reactive hyperemia. Micro-circulation is restored and the trigger point is eradicated. Micro-hemorrhaging also eventuates in increased metabolic function.

9. Feels Good

Prolonged deep compressions result in vagal tonus and parasympathetic dominance – altered mood (hypnogogic trance) and an improved healing state results.

Mechanical compressions of Ruffini nerve endings transduce endogenous morphines and other neurotransmitters of altered states.

Slow, deep and thorough, compressions potentiate and enhance the quality of your bodywork while dramatically reducing likelihood of self-injury. The pressure delivered when you use your feet and gravity will satisfy demanding clients and help you extend your career indefinitely.

Material on this page used with permission of John Harris. This website was designed by Paul Svacina, and is ©2004 by Paul Svacina.