Massage therapy is a profession in which the practitioner applies manual techniques (by use of hand or body), and may apply adjunctive therapies, with the intention of positively affecting the health and well-being of the client. Massage therapists use their fingers, hands, forearms, and elbows to manipulate the muscles and other soft tissues of the body. Variations in focus and technique lead to different types of massage, including Swedish, deep tissue, and sports massage.
An increasing body of research shows massage reduces heart rate, can help lower blood pressure, increases blood circulation and lymph flow, relaxes muscles, improves range of motion, and increases endorphins. Studies also indicate that massage may enhance the functioning of the immune system. Although therapeutic massage does not increase muscle strength, it can stimulate weak, inactive muscles and, thus, partially compensate for the lack of exercise and inactivity resulting from illness or injury. It also can hasten and lead to a more complete recovery from exercise or injury.
Note: This definition was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.
- American Massage Therapy Association
- This site for professionals also has information for consumers and a search feature to help you find local massage therapists.
- National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork
- This site has certification information for professionals and a section for consumers that includes a useful consumer guide to massage therapy.