If you’ve read my blog before, you know that massage has incredible effects on all areas of your body, and can be a complimentary treatment for just about all medical conditions. Massage provides positive outcomes for each of the twelve systems of the body. In order to understand how massage can help you and any illnesses you may have, it is important that you understand how the systems of your body work and what effects massage has on them. Check back on my blog weekly for a series of entries on each body system. This week: Your skeletal system.
HOW DOES THE SKELETAL SYSTEM WORK?
Probably the most self-explanatory system in your body is the skeletal system. It consists of the bones and ligaments that create the skeleton, providing the framework of the body. You are born with 270 bones, some of which end up fusing together, as is the case with your cranial bones. As your body grows and matures, you are left with only 206 bones. Ligaments are segments of connective tissue that connect your bones to each other to form joints.
Your skeletal system performs some important functions. Besides providing framework, it also aids in movement and support, provides protection for vital organs, stores calcium (more than 99% of the calcium in your body is stored in the skeleton!), and aids in blood cell productions and regulation of hormone secretion.
The skeletal system is comprised of two parts. The axial skeleton consists of the vertebral column, the rib cage, and the skull. It is essentially the mid-section of the body, which allows humans to maintain our upright posture. The appendicular skeleton consists of the pectoral and pelvic girdles, and the extremities. This part of the skeleton moves us, not only in walking and running, but other movements as well.
WHAT DOES MASSAGE DO FOR YOUR SKELETAL SYSTEM
As I’m sure you’ve probably already guessed, massage can have a profound impact on your skeletal system, as it does for all body systems. Through range of motion exercises, important fluids are moved through your joints, lubricating the cartilage in between the bones and providing nourishment. Range of motion refers to how far your joints can move within a normal range in any direction, and massage can test this range as the massage therapist moves you to get to hard-to-reach areas, such as the posterior arm or neck.
Massage also increases blood circulation. Blood provides nourishment to all parts of the body, including the skeleton. Therefore, regular massage can be beneficial in providing nutrients to the skeleton.
The benefits that massage has for the muscles are probably what help the skeleton the most. Overtime, massage can break up adhesions that may accumulate in muscle tissue, or in the ligaments between bone. Massage can also bring a person’s attention to their posture, making them more aware of discrepancies. This can be the first step in conscious correction of posture, which will provide better skeletal alignment.
Along those same lines, massage relaxes muscles that can pull on your skeleton when tight. The release of muscles also helps to correct skeletal alignment.
It is important to remember that massage is not an alternative form of treatment; it is only complimentary. You should always follow the advice of your primary care physician. You should also let your massage therapist know if you have certain bone disorders such as osteoporosis, as a deep tissue massage would be a contraindication due to the risk of breaking bones.
To help you better understand why skeletal alignment and proper posture are important, check out my blog post on posture.
Body Systems Series