Leading professional massage associations have defined massage as systems of structured palpation or movement of the soft tissue of the body, including holding, causing movement, and/or applying pressure to the body. 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.
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. Recent studies indicate massage enhances 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.
Source: MedlinePlus and American Medical Association
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- 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.