Investigate the effects of massage

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Learning Objectives

In the course of this learning module you will become familiar with the generally accepted effects of massage therapy.


If we are to provide our clients with the type of massage that best suits their goals, and medical condition we must have an understanding of what the effects of different types of massage applications are.

It’s important to realise that most of the generally accepted effects of massage are based on physiological principles and the experiences of massage practitioners, but have not yet been confirmed by research evidence.

Mechanical vs. Reflexive Effects

The effects of massage can be considered to be composed of mechanical (or direct) effects and reflexive (or indirect) effects.

Mechanical effects are those that are directly caused by the massage application.

  • Deep effleurage strokes push fluids through the body
  • Petrissage breaks connective tissue adhesions and pumps fluid (in much the same way as wringing out a sponge would pump fluid out of the sponge)

Reflexive effects occur indirectly via the nervous system.

  • Massage can have a relaxing effect or a stimulating effect on the autonomic nervous system leading to stimulation of either the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxing) or sympathetic nervous system (stimulating).
  • Massage stimulates the release of histamine which increases circulation locally (leading to redness of the skin).
  • When your effleurage stroke stretches the muscle, stimulation of proprioceptors in the muscle belly cause the muscle to relax.

What are the Effects of Massage?

Your teacher has established a google document titled the effects of massage.

  • Investigate the question What are the effects of massage? You may use any of the resources which are available to you to do this. Some suggestions are listed below, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Contribute to building this document. Please consider the quality of the source and the material before you add your contribution. To edit the document you will need to be logged into your Google account. You can either
  • Log into any Google service, then click on the above link
  • Click on the above link, scroll to the bottom of the document, click on Edit this page.

  • Reference all of the effects which you add to the document using APA referencing.

  • Add your name to the bottom of the document in the contributors section.

  • Come back from time to time to review the document


David McQuillan 2008