When you get a massage is the therapist or therapy ball actually busting, blasting or melting fascia? Have you ever wondered what actually happens when you get a massage, whether it’s from a therapist or massage tool?

Massage is nothing new, in fact, evidence of it has been found in European cave paintings from as far back as 15,000 BC. So, what’s responsible for how amazing you feel as you float back into your day after a massage?

how massage works ae wellness

Your tissues, both muscular and connective are insanely strong. My anatomy teacher, Gil Hedley, shared a video of him using a sheet of superficial fascia (the fatty layer directly beneath the skin) to pick up a 52 lbs weight plate.

52 pounds! And the superficial fascia stretched and rebounded to its original shape beautifully.

So are we really able to change the tissue structure through our massage?


Touch. It’s all about touch. Depending on the tool you use, be it a therapist’s hands, a therapy ball, a foam roller or that super expensive and nice looking massage chair from Brookstone, massage is used to relax the body, promote wellness and help to soften muscle spasms.

Humans love to be touched – we crave it as babies and research has found that babies who receive touch therapy have better outcomes (see here, here, and here). And while your body is bigger, your nervous system as an adult is not that different from an infant’s.

Touch therapies, such as massage help to reduce stress, which has a number of secondary effects like better sleep, less inflammation, and decreased cortisol levels.

Watch my latest episode of Anatomy with Alex (below) to learn:

  • How massage works
  • Why the nervous system is super important for massage
  • The best massage technique for specific outcomes
  • If you can actually blast fascia (hint: no, you cannot)

Tune in every Wednesday at 3:15 pm PST on the AE Wellness Facebook Page for Anatomy with Alex, my weekly show where I teach you anatomy and physiology in ways that are relevant to you in your life so you can maximize your mobility and live pain-free in your body.

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  • March 10: Structurally Sound Healthy Backs + Hips (Phoenix, AZ)

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