Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) is often one of those love or hate topics – but is such an important one for us as massage practitioners. We depend a lot on touch and as we get more and more experience we can often (but not always!) tell where a problem lies and what a problem is within a minute of touching someone in massage. Our hands interpret the body and its tension and then they are the tools that we use to release this tension and help return to body to a state of relaxation. But underlying this is a knowledge of “what lies beneath”. In knowing the body and how it works, this knowledge informs and shapes our treatments.

Our bodies are such complex structures; skin, fascia, muscle, bones, connective tissue, adipose tissue (connective tissue that contains fat), blood, glands, lymph – the list goes on! All of this works together in an amazing way so that we can move, talk, breathe, eat, sleep – all our everyday functions before we even start to get to the more complex functions; we can draw, create, love, imagine and so much more. Our bodies both allow us and facilitate us to do all of these different things. So knowing how the human body works allows us to treat people more effectively when things go wrong. It also allows us to know how we can treat people safely and know what is it that we are working on and how each part of the body interacts with the other parts.

Every now and again I treat myself to some A&P refresher work, this week I have been trying out a new online course and was reminded of some amazing facts about the human body. So, did you know…..

  • That science doesn’t know how many cells there are in the average human body but a minimum estimate is around 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 (ten trillion – the number of 0’s depends if you use the short or long way to write it!)
  • No one of these cells is more than 2 cells away from a blood supply
  • If we gain weight, our body builds a bigger blood supply system to maintain this
  • In the average adult, 50-70 billion of these cells die and are replaced day
  • If a breastfed baby develops an upper respiratory infection, the infection is absorbed by the breast as the baby feeds. The mother then makes antibodies for this specific infection and those antibodies are ready in the milk for the next feed – how awesome is that!
  • We blink around 1,200 times an hour
  • Nerve impulses can travel over 250 mph

Add to how amazing our bodies are in general the changes we can then experience with the illnesses we suffer and the problems we can have with our body when things go wrong. Then the importance of knowing about the bodies we work on in massage increases even more.

So if you are thinking about going into massage as a career and are put off by the A&P – please don’t be, it’s a fascinating journey into the bodies that we work on and it will help you to develop your treatments and understanding of your clients as a practitioner. Likewise if you have been working in massage for a while, it never hurts to go back and refresh our A&P understanding – there is always something new to learn. As I get up from my computer now I’m marvelling at the co-ordination and complexity of just doing that simple movement – and wondering what wonders of the human body it will take to now go and walk my dog!


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