Physiological Effects Of Rhythms – Rhythm And Massage
Today, almost everyone is familiar with the water research work of the Japanese Dr. Masaru Emoto, who studied the effects of different types of music on water crystals. He proved the diversity of these effects with imaginative – and repeatable – experiments. However, I don’t want to talk about this well-known series of experiments now. I would rather focus on the more sacral causes of these effects. So I wouldn’t write about the physiological effects of composed music, but its basic, essential unity, the rhythm, perhaps less known, but I hope for similarly exciting things…
Concept of rhythm
Regular, predictable, pattern-like repeating ripples and pulsations, can be observed in a movement, change, or some process.
In this way, not only a piece of music has rhythm, but also any other art, (painting, building, poetry, etc.), a form of movement (running, cycling, dancing, etc.), or other things that are just changing. Life itself – and the living beings within it – also has a rhythm that reflects the process of change taking place in it / them.
Rhythmic pulsation can already be observed at the level of atoms as well; and just as atoms form the basis of molecules, cells, and thus all living things, so does their rhythm form the basis of the rhythm of life of these living things.
A faster rhythm results in more active operation, greater efficiency, and at the same time a greater degree of attrition. The slower rhythm results in slower operation, but in return is energy efficient and “user friendly”. Rhythm – like everything else – can also change, accelerate, slow down to different effects.
The rhythm of life of an organism is manifested in its life processes, such as digestion, excretion, metabolism, circulation, etc.
The long-term aggregation of these processes gives the general physiological rhythm of the given organism, and the processes that are currently taking place give the current physiological rhythm.
The current physiological rhythm can be affected by breathing, relaxation, and various physiotherapy methods. If you incorporate these into your everyday life – that is, apply them regularly – in the long run, your overall rhythm will also change.
The rhythm of our body is affected by its physical and mental environment; such as heat effects, physical pain, feeling hungry, emotions, or general well-being.
However, in more anatomically advanced beings, including humans, all environmental effects are manifested in a single large, central effect. This is the heartbeat. The environment affects the hormone-producing glands, which begin to produce various hormones, and the corresponding hormones affect the heart rhythm. Through this mechanism, therefore, all physical and emotional changes in our lives affect the rhythm of our hearts. And the heart rhythm itself is a strong physical effect in our body that largely determines and even underpins our functioning, our general and instantaneous physiological rhythm.
Életkortól, életviteltől és aktivitástól függően tehát a normál szívritmus egyénenként eltérő; és az említett hatások miatt kisebb-nagyobb mértékben állandó változásban is van. Azonban mindettől függetlenül:
Thus, depending on age, lifestyle, and activity, normal heart rate varies from individual to individual; and is also more or less constantly changing due to said effects. However, in any case:
Through hormones, it obviously works back and forth, meaning that when we calm down, our heart slows down, and when there’s a stress situation, it starts beating to make us more lively. However, in some therapies (eg music therapy or massage therapy), if the therapist chooses music / catch techniques that are slower than the heart rate, this can also support relaxation and encourage the heart to calm down. In contrast, faster-paced music encourages activity, “spinning,” as do faster-paced techniques in a warm up sports massage, for example.
The healthy rhythm of the human heart is 60-100 BPM per minute (Beat Per Minute) depending on activity.
So musics that are slower than our heart rate, with fewer beats per minute, has a physically calming effect on us, and faster ones have an invigorating effect.
How do we choose a rhythm as an operator, how do we choose a method as a guest?
In the light of the above, as a therapist, we can be more effective in a massage treatment if – with this knowledge – we choose a rhythm or grip that is appropriate for the purpose; and as a guest we can choose the style and system that best suits our needs. During massage, the anatomical changes following direct physical action also inherently relax and energize the body to some degree; however, the masseur may consciously choose whether he/she wants to help with relaxation or invigoration with his/her work.
If the former, he/she has to perform the massage techniques at a slower pace than the heart rhythm (eg Lomi-lomi massage, or the slow, long-smoothing techniques and forms of Swedish massage); and if the latter, he/she must work at a rhythm at least equal to or faster than the heart rate (e.g. Sports Massage, Dynamic Rapid Massage). Some more complex, more artistic styles, such as Ma-Uri Massage or Music Therapy Massage, use music and massage therapy together.
However, no matter what kind of massage is on, a steady, measured rhythm is very important. The steady rhythm calms the mind, turns off the conscious self sooner, and thus, the therapist achieves a greater degree of relaxation in less time for the patient. As a masseur, therefore, it is worthwhile and rewarding to develop our sense of rhythm.
Author: Sándor Nagy
How to develop your sense of rhythm in massage?