Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/752

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blood less. It will not be surprising, then, to learn that in practice massage sometimes proves a valuable ally in the treatment of functional and organic diseases of the heart, for "the peripheral friction of the blood against the walls of the capillaries and small arteries not only opposes the flow of blood through them, but, working backward along the whole arterial system, has to be overcome by the heart at each systole of the left ventricle." This obstacle is in great part lessened by massage. In exercise there is alternate contraction and relaxation of voluntary muscles, and this is a powerful aid to the circulation in general; for at each contraction the vessels are emptied by compression, and the alternating relaxation allows them to fill up again. Thus each muscle or group of muscles in activity has been appropriately likened to a beating heart. In this respect the intermittent pressure of massage aids and imitates the alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles very accurately, and no better praise could be bestowed upon any therapeutical agent than the old-fashioned, haughty, supercilious way of dismissing the subject of massage as unworthy of notice by saying that it was merely a substitute for exercise. Exercise favors all the functions, and people who can exercise freely without fatigue, and who can eat and sleep well, seldom need massage. I am aware that this statement includes many neurasthenics, especially those who suffer from want of occupation.

While undergoing massage it is well for the patient to take frequent and deep inspirations, in order to favor the flow of the venous and lymphatic currents to the thorax. This, however, is often instinctively done, and with such ease that the patient feels as if freed from an immense load. From a paper by Professor H. P. Bowditch, in the "Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences," for 1873, "On the Lymph-Spaces in Fasciæ," we learn the following valuable and interesting facts: "In experiments on animals where the flow of lymph through the thoracic duct was measured, passive movements of the limbs increased this flow in a remarkable manner. Galvanization of the muscles had a similar but less powerful effect. The lymph-spaces existing between the tendinous fibers of fasciæ and the connection of these spaces with lymphatic vessels have been described by Ludwig and others. By virtue of this structure the fasciæ play an important part in keeping up the flow of lymph through the lymphatic vessels. A piece of fascia was removed from the leg of a dog and tied over the mouth of a glass funnel, with the side next the muscles uppermost. A few drops of a colored turpentine solution were then placed upon this surface, and the fascia alternately stretched and relaxed by partially exhausting the air from the funnel and allowing it to return again. In this way the coloring matter was made to penetrate into the spaces between the fibers of the fascia and to enter the lymph-spaces on the opposite side. The same result was obtained when the coloring matter was injected between the muscles and the