How Can Massage Therapy Benefit Your Skin?
Can you guess what your body’s largest organ is? No, it’s not your stomach! It protects you from the environment and allows your body to excrete impurities! Now you got it right. It’s your skin, your body suit, your indicator of physical ills. Some doctors can look at the skin and detect disease of internal organs or even Type 2 diabetes by merely looking at color and quality of the skin.
As a massage therapist, I look at people’s skin all the time. Inadvertently I have come across visible changes in blemishes or moles, bruises that the client was not aware of or even that the client showed signs of dehydration due to dry skin. Not only do I tell them that they need to drink a minimum of half of their bodyweight in ounces of water, I also tell them that massage can help their skin look and feel healthier too.
One of the real benefits of regular massage is enhancing circulation. When receiving a massage, the circulatory system is stimulated by the manual pushing of bodily fluids and blood through the blood vessels and lymphatic system. The initial increase in blood volume to that specific area causes the capillaries just below the skin to receive nutrient-rich blood and push out toxins into the deeper veins to eventually be eliminated by the kidneys and out of the body.
The nutrients in blood, along with fresh oxygen are what repair and feed all tissues, including the skin. When muscles below the skin contract or become tight due to stress or pain, the stress-hormone called Cortisol is at work. Muscles and skin are connected through a tissue called the myofascia. If that connecting tissue is tight, it will eventually create wrinkles in the skin from the tension. Through massage or relaxation, the brain secretes endorphins which are the body’s natural tranquilizers to counter the Cortisol. By releasing muscle tension, the skin will become relaxed also. Over time, if you “massage, relax and repeat”, the skin will become conditioned, supple and pink and wrinkles will start to smooth out.
It’s not only the action of the massage, but what is being put onto your skin that also matters. Anything that you use on your body from soap, perfumes and detergents to moisturizing lotions or oils gets absorbed through the skin into the blood stream. So not only are we stimulating blood flow, but we are applying topicals that will get absorbed into your body as well. The skin is permeable to allow respiration (sweat & toxins) to be released and to keep large particles of bacteria and environmental toxins out. The Ph layer on your skin is an acidic compound to kill bacteria on contact. It is a delicate balance that needs to be maintained so that the skin to do its job in protecting your body. Ph-balanced means maintaining that protective layer and not destroy it with harsh chemicals or products.
That is why it is very important that you ask your massage therapist what they are using on your skin for your treatment. Are the oils organic, free of mineral oils which clog pores or alcohol which is drying to the skin, gluten- or nut-free or free of other preserving chemicals and scents? If the company that your massage therapist works for cares enough about what goes onto your body by carrying high quality, organic lotions or oils and carries lines of products that are healthy for you and the environment, then that is a company you can align your healthcare with. Massage may not be the latest fountain of youth, but it can help relieve pain and stress while making you feel and look younger, too.
Sandy Saldano, Lic. Massage Therapist
Owner of Therapeutic Kneads, Ltd.