Endocrine System and Massage
Massage may have indirect effects on the endocrine system through the nervous system. The therapist should be familiar with conditions of hyposecretion and hypersecretion of the various glands and take suitable precautions.
Diabetes mellitus is a common disorder likely to be seen in clients. A complication of diabetes is the de-velopment of hypoglycemia, which may happen when the glucose level drops below normal levels. Hypo-glycemia is characterized by giddiness, weakness, pal-lor, and profuse sweating, followed by unconscious- ness. Prompt administration of fruit juice or another carbohydrate can revive the person and this should be done before calling for help. Because diabetes has the potential to affect every system in the body, a careful history is required. For example, peripheral neuropa-thy is a complication of diabetes and clients will have reduced sensory perception in the extremities.
Please refer to pathology books specific for body-workers for precau-tions to be taken for all other conditions.
The study of stress and how the body responds re-veals how people respond to what happens around them, their social setting, and their environment, all of which can affect the inner working of the body. Conversely, it gives us an idea of how therapeutic technique, such as massage, can affect the body, even at the molecular level (the secretion of hormones and immune processes).
Massage can help relieve stress in many ways. The soothing touch helps relax muscles that are tensed. The rapport of the therapist with the client is also impor-tant. The relaxing atmosphere of the clinic, the calming effect of the music, and the slow rhythmic strokes can reduce the activity of the sympathetic nerves and the fight-or-flight reaction that occurs with stress. By negating the effects of stress, massage can have a direct effect on the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis and stimulate immune responses and healing.
Although massage has many positive effects on stress, the therapist should understand that it is the individual and the individual alone who actually adapts to stress. The therapist is just one component of the management process.