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Inflammatory Response and Massage Therapy

Zheng Zhu (Jason) Li, RMT - Registered Massage Therapist


Massage has been shown to be especially beneficial for chronic inflammation and pain management. Inflammation and pain are signs and symptoms of many pathologic conditions. The beneficial effects of massage target the body’s ability to resolve inflammation, manage pain, reduce pressure on nerves and soothe anxiety.


Inflammation may occur as a response to any tissue injury which is an active important part of the healing process. The inflammatory response is a combination of processes that attempts to minimize injury to tissues and promote healing, thus maintaining homeostasis.


The signs and symptoms of inflammation include heat, redness, swelling and pain. Acute inflammation occurs during the onset of injury or illness and is an essential aspect of the healing process. Caution must be used when local acute inflammation is present. The area of inflammation is avoided and if the area is related to injury susceptible to infection, diligence for sanitation and infection control is necessary. An example of this situation is massage application after surgery. Massage has been shown to slow the formation of scar tissue and to keep scar tissue pliable when it does form. However, it is very important to avoid any approach that adds any more adaptive strain than the client can manage.


Chronic inflammation is an inflammatory process that occurs or persists without a beneficial outcome and thus becomes a disease-producing process. Conditions involving chronic inflammation are classified as inflammatory diseases. Examples are arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, eczema and chronic bronchitis which are among the most common.


Massage seems to be beneficial in cases of prolonged chronic inflammation. A number of theories have been proposed to explain this, including the following:

• The stimulation from massage activates a release of the body's own anti-inflammatory agents.

• Certain types of massage increase the inflammatory process (therapeutic inflammation) to a small degree, triggering the body to complete the process.

• Massage may facilitate dilution and removal of the irritant by increasing lymphatic flow.

• Massage supports parasympathetic function.


If you would like to book a massage appointment, to help with inflammation, please call us at 905.465.4595.

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