Effects of Swedish Body Massage on Body Systems

2604 words (10 pages) Essay in Beauty Therapy

07/05/18 Beauty Therapy Reference this

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Analysing And Describing The Effects of Swedish Body Massage On The Major Systems Of The Body



The Aims of Swedish Body Massage and the Body Systems Involved

The Effects Swedish Body Massage Has on the Body Systems

Lymphatic System

Urinary System

Cardiovascular System

Respiratory System

Muscular System

Skeletal System

The Benefits of Swedish Body Massage on the Body




My Name is Sheryn McDermott and I am studying HNC Beauty Therapy at Forth Valley College. As part of my Human Anatomy & Physiology for Beauty and Complementary Therapists units, I am required to write a report where I must analyse and describe the effects of a selected therapy on the major systems of the body. In the report I must:

  • Research and describe the aim of a selected therapy on one or more systems of the body
  • Research and discuss the evidence that explains the effect of your chosen therapy on the structure or function of the body systems
  • Research the benefits of my chosen therapy on the body and Discuss any evidence available

The assessment must be presented as a report and have no less than 1500 words and no more than 2000 which I will include a word count. I must reference using the Harvard referencing system and cite at least 5 different references. The report must be in my own words and I must use evidence based research to support my discussion. Any diagrams I use will have a title and be clearly labelled.

The therapy that I have chosen to do my report on is Swedish Body Massage.

The Aims of Swedish Body Massage and the Body Systems Involved

The aims of Swedish body massage can differ from person to person depending on what they want to get from it. A client could want to relax, reduce emotional and physical stress, relieve tension and aches, increase their well-being, feel invigorated, detox, increase circulation and improve various body functions. There are so many things that body massage can do and as a therapist, it is my duty to know the effects that the massage will have on the body and how I will be able to achieve the clients aims.

As a therapist my aims could be to:

  • Increase blood circulation and improve function
  • Increase lymphatic drainage and improve function
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve tension in muscles, relaxing them and improve their condition
  • Improve skin condition
  • Stimulate or relax the nervous system
  • Help reduce adipose tissue
  • Keep joints supple
  • Aid digestion

Massage affects all the body systems in a positive way (for those who are not contra-indicated). Some of the major systems affected are the:

  • Urinary system
  • Lymphatic system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Muscular system
  • Skeletal system
  • Respiratory system

The Effects Swedish Body Massage Has on the Body Systems

Lymphatic System

As therapists massage in the same direction as the lymph flow, towards the nearest lymph node, the speed of the lymphatic flow is increased due to the force of the hands. The pressure that is applied during massage helps with transferring fluids from the tissue, into the lymphatic vessels which will drain the fluid away more quickly. This helps to prevent or reduce oedema in the tissues

Interstitial fluid contains waste products from cells, these waste products are diffused through lymphatic vessel walls during massage and this allows the body to remove waste products quicker. Pathogens and microbes can be found in the blood, which the lymphatic system filters and cleans to destroy them. Massage can increase the efficiency of the lymph nodes and spleen which can increase the body’s immune system. (Jane Hiscock, 2010) wrote: ‘Biochemical healing takes place not only by alleviating anxiety but also stimulating the production of antibodies, especially immunoglobulin, so enhancing the immune system.’



Urinary System

Massage is very stimulating to the body systems which releases toxins that are built up in the body and aids their removal. The toxins travel in the blood to the kidneys where they are filtered and flushed out in the urine. After a massage it is recommended to the client to drink lots of water to improve this process. An increase in fluids increases blood volume which increases the blood pressure and also increases the efficiency of the kidneys, thus increasing the need to pass diluted urine to lower the blood volume and blood pressure.

Cardiovascular System

Pressure on the skin (even slight) can empty the superficial capillaries and venules near the surface of the skin. Light, superficial effleurage can affect the flow of blood and help the work of the heart. Massage enhances blood flow in the veins which carry away waste products, toxins and carbon dioxide efficiently, and quickly returns to the blood stream. As the blood flow is increased, so is the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the cells and tissues. (Rosser, 2012) ‘It speeds up the flow of blood through the veins. Veins lie superficially (nearer the surface than arteries). As the hands move over the part in the direction of venous return, the blood is pushed along in the veins towards the heart. The deeper and faster the movements, the greater the flow. This venous blood carries away metabolic waste products more quickly.’

Gentle stroking produces a contraction of the walls of the capillaries in the skin which has a cooling effect on the body. Dilation of the blood vessels helps them to work more efficiently. Blood pressure temporarily decreases due to relaxation and by decreased stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets increase in number in the blood.

Respiratory System

As massage is very stimulating to the body and increases circulation, respiration is also increased to feed these stimulated areas with oxygen. Breathing rate and depth is increased to compensate this. The condition of the lungs can be improved as the joints of the thorax will be mobilised which will help to strengthen and improve the tone of the respiratory muscles.

Percussion and tapotement massage movements will directly affect lung tissue by increasing circulation to the various part of the lungs such as the bronchioles and alveoli. If there is any mucus or foreign particles in the lungs, these can be dislodged when using percussion movements. (Audry Githa Goldberg, 1996) wrote: ’Such manipulations as percussion will have a direct effect on the lung tissue. Not only will the circulation to the bronchioles be improved, thus feeding the tissues and helping to maintain elasticity, but any mucus or foreign particles, if present, can be dislodged with such manipulations’. Gaseous exchange is also increased in the lungs which will improve the performance of the lungs by ridding the body of carbon dioxide and replenishing it with oxygen.

Muscular System

When muscles work they require a greater supply of oxygen and nutrients and as a result, more waste products are produced. After exercising when the muscles are resting the waste products can build up and result in stiffness. Massaging the muscles aids removal of the waste products by providing a fresh supply of blood and nutrients. (O’Keefe, 2006) wrote: ‘Massage will relieve muscular fatigue by removing the lactic acids that build up in the tissues.’

Some muscle tone can be improved and maintained and with that, elasticity and flexibility is increased which can help improve some postural faults. Tense and short muscles can be relaxed and stretched and over-stretched, loose muscles can be strengthened. Tapotement causes muscles to expand and contract. Muscles are also warmed which helps to relieve tension and pain. Muscles work over joints and if there are adhesions in the joint then the full range of movement will be prevented. Massaging the joint using frictions will help loosen and release these adhesions. This will allow the joint to gain mobility in the joint, more movement in the muscles and therefore increase the range of movement.

Skeletal System

Pressure against the periosteum (the sheath of connective tissue that surrounds all bones except those at joints) stimulates the blood circulation which will feed and nourish bones and also the joints close by. (O’Keefe, 2006) wrote: ‘When massage is applied to bones, it does not have any direct effect. What does happen is that because of increased blood circulation the bones are fed fresh oxygen and waste products are absorbed more quickly.’ Massage in and around joints can help to prevent and loosen adhesion which will help mobilise joints and improve their range.

Image 8 Skeletal System

The Benefits of Swedish Body Massage on the Body

There are countless benefits of receiving massage that will benefit the body directly and indirectly.

  • Skin is moisturised, nourished and desquamated, scarring can be reduced due to the increased stimulation and blood flow which will increase the skin condition overall. Sebaceous glands are stimulated allowing the skin to become more lubricated and supple.
  • Muscles fibres can relax to eliminate bands of tension. Muscle tone and performance is improved and pain and tension relieved. Allows weakened muscles to be more readily used after a period of disuse. Relieves tension headaches.
  • Lymph is stimulated encouraging a healthier immune system and removal of waste and toxins. Oedema in areas can be reduced providing there is no contra-indicated medical condition.
  • Depending on the type of massage, the nervous system can be relaxed or stimulated.
  • Circulation is improved which increases the blood flow to all parts of the body bringing nutrients and oxygen and removing waste. This promotes healing and the regeneration of cells.
  • Blood pressure and heart rate is slowed down during a relaxing massage and if done regularly, has a cumulative effect to benefit clients with blood pressure problems.
  • Increased urinary output will help to get rid of toxins in the body that have been released during massage and is great as part of a detox.
  • People with stiff joints or low range of mobility will benefit from massage in and around the joints to relieve any adhesions and increase the mobility of the joint.
  • Massage over the abdominal area can help aid digestion by encouraging peristalsis and speeds up the digestive process. Massage can help those with constipation.
  • Adipose tissue could be affected as the tissue is warmed which accelerates the chemical activity needed to disperse the fat. The pressure used softens the fat which allows it to be more easily absorbed.
  • Respiratory tract can benefit as it will become relaxed, allows mucus to be dispersed and dislodged and increases the gaseous exchange which allows more oxygen into the body and more carbon dioxide to leave. Breathing properly can help prevent lung infections, encourage good posture and aids relaxation.
  • There are many psychological benefits to massage too. The client can relax, allowing the mind to become still and calm. Emotional stress can be dispersed or even forgotten about during massage and a general well-being can be achieved. Self-esteem, sleep patterns and concentration can be improved.


During this report and unit I have learned in-depth knowledge about the human anatomy and some of the major body systems. I researched how Swedish Body Massage would affect these body systems and I am now confident in my knowledge of the effects and benefits on the body. I will be able to use this knowledge to my advantage when I am treating clients, enabling me to advise them on how massage could benefit them and ensure the treatment reaches their objectives. I feel it is important to know exactly how the movements, techniques and manipulations used during massage will affect the body.


Audry Githa Goldberg, L. M. (1996). Body Massage For The Beauty Therapist (3rd ed.). Cornwall: Elsevier.

Jane Hiscock, E. S. (2010). Beauty therapy Level 3 (2nd ed.). Barcelona, Spain: Pearson Education Limited.

O’Keefe, A. (2006). The Official Guide to Body Massage (2nd ed.). London: Thomson Learning.

Rosser, M. (2012). Body Massage (3rd ed.). Italy: Hodder Education.

Front Cover – freelancemd.com

Image 1 – beautyescape.co.uk

Image 2 – greathealthbydesign.com

Image 3 – lucindacareswell.co.uk

Image 4 – thiswaytohealth.com

Image 5 – simple-health-secrets.com

Image 6 – chss.org.uk

Image 7 – woodgrovesec.moe.edu.sg

Image 8 – cnx.org

Image 9 – sourcemassage.co.uk

Word Count – 1881

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