Anyone who has had a massage knows just how good it can make you feel afterwards. Not only do they help you to relax (both mentally and physically), a regular massage can also help to relieve many health problems including stress, tension and pain, and that’s not all… they are great for improving your circulation too!
The ancient Greeks understood the healing benefit of daily massages and saw them as an essential part of maintaining good health and well-being, and with good reason.
As a complimentary therapist I am often asked what the long-term effects of having a massage are. Well, for one thing, it can lead to better blood circulation as it is part of the chain reaction that occurs in the body as a result of receiving massage therapy on a regular basis. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, massage can be a natural ally for a healthier lifestyle.
A person with poor circulation can suffer from a variety of discomforts, including pooling of the fluid in the extremities (like the toes), cold hands and feet, fatigue and achiness created by an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. Damaged, tense muscles require oxygen-rich blood in order to heal, which is only possible with good circulation.
Massage facilitates better circulation
The pressure created by the massage technique actually moves blood through the congested areas. The release of this same pressure allows new blood to flow in.
The massage techniques also flush lactic acid out of the muscles and improve the circulation of the lymph fluid, which carries metabolic waste away from muscles and internal organs, reducing high blood pressure and improving body function.
The benefits of improved circulation
- Enhances blood flow
- Naturally lowers blood pressure
- Improves body function
Circulation-boosting massages for your legs, arms and hands
Leg massage stimulates circulation of blood and lymph flow and can help to prevent varicose veins. To relieve congestion in your legs, a masseuse will stroke upward from the ankle toward the lymph nodes located at the back of the knee and groin.
Massaging the leg’s larger muscles around the thighs can help to stimulate the lymphatic system.
Arm and hand massage can reduce tightness and clenching in arms and hands. Tension here can cause headaches, neck pain and aching shoulders. The massage can liberate and relax the muscles as well as stimulate the circulation.
Warm up with a Hot Stone Massage
There is no way better way to boost circulation and metabolism as with a Hot Stone Massage, whilst also melting away any stress and tension.
Not only does the direct heat of the stones help to relax your muscles more fully, but they also help to expand your blood vessels and encourage blood flow throughout your body. Better blood flow works to promote healing in those tense muscles by delivering more oxygen to them and easing many of your aches and pains.
Do it yourself
Home massage techniques may help to improve your blood circulation. This complementary therapy is practised to provide gentle natural relief using your favourite cream or oil.
DIY Face massage
Place your hands over your eyes to help warm your hands; feel free to close your eyes. Slide your ring finger from inner eyebrow to outer eyebrow, and then place your ring fingers directly under your eyebrows, near the bridge of your nose. Slowly increase the pressure for 5-10 seconds, then gently release. Repeat this a few times.
Finally, place your fingertips at the bridge of your nose. Slowly slide your fingers down your nose and across the top of your cheekbones to the outside of your ears, using two fingers in circular movements massage the cheek bones and then using a sliding motion or stroke to finish.
DIY Hand massage
Start by firmly stroking the back of your hand from the fingers to wrist and then gently glide back and forth a few times.
Next squeeze the hand all over, pressing the palm and fingers. Use your thumb to apply light pressure and release all around the palm of your hand and wrist. Repeat the process with your other hand, and finish by letting both arms hang at your sides and stretch your fingers and hands wide a few times.
DIY Foot massage
Place one hand on top of your foot and the other on your sole. Rub your hands back and forth across your foot in short, brisk strokes to stimulate (especially helpful for cold feet) or gentle strokes to soothe. Concentrate on the entire foot, from toe to heel. Finally, squeeze each toe individually and then gently stretch it before going to the next.
How often do you treat yourself to a massage? Is there a particular massage which you find benefits your health?
Originally written 18/11/2015, updated on 05/11/2018.