How does the brain send and receive messages to other parts of the body? Our nervous system, which is composed of several interconnected systems, allows the brain to send electric signals throughout the body to sense and react to changes in stimuli. Nerve impulses are waves of electrical activity that transmit information through a network of billions of nerve cells. The study of the functions and structure of the nervous system is called Neuroanatomy, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the inner workings of the human body.
For a registered massage therapist, possessing an effective understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the human nervous system is vital, as it facilitates the successful applications of important techniques learned throughout massage therapy training. In other words, by studying how pain works and how the different systems that make up the nervous system interact, the massage therapist can delve deeper into healing the body to provide greater and more precise individual care for a client.
The nervous system, which includes the central nervous system, the peripheral nervous system and the limbic system, is responsible for communicating with the different glands and muscles of the body in real time. For example, in order to move your leg, the brain will send an electric signal through the nervous system and down your spinal cord, then into the leg’s muscles, which need to tighten or relax to produce movement.
So how do electrical signals travel? And how can signals move from one end of the body to the other almost instantly? After all, there’s very little delay between thinking about moving your leg and your leg being in movement. This is made possible by the nerve cells, which relay messages from one station to the next. A nerve cell that’s undamaged and operating normally is usually referred to as a neuron. Neurons can transmit nerve signals from and to the brain at up to an astonishing 320 km/h. Neurons are linked together, forming a powerful chain that spreads throughout the entire human body.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Though we tend to take the systems that regulate our bodies for granted, you’d never guess how fascinating and incredibly complex these systems are!
Throughout massage therapy training, you will study the brain in relation to the spinal cord, and what role this dynamic plays within the context of the five major senses. Students become intimately familiar with how stress can negatively affect the body, and how massage therapy can help restore its systems. A troubled nervous system that has become overly alert or sensitive due to stress or other factors, for example, can greatly benefit from massage therapy, as massaging the body will increase blood circulation, thereby transferring important nutrients and oxygen to muscles and organs. Moreover, this process will also secrete serotonin and endorphins, which will contribute to the feeling of rejuvenation within the client’s body.