Aviva Directory » Health & Well-Being » Alternative Medicine » Manipulative & Body-Based Methods » Massage Therapy

Massage therapy is the manipulation of the body's soft tissues, usually to help manage a health condition or enhance wellness. It can relieve pain, reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and heal muscle injuries.

During the procedure, the therapist rubs and kneads the soft tissues, including muscle, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and skin, generally varying the amount of pressure and movement.

Massage therapy is often used as a complementary therapy or as part of integrative medicine, although it may be used as the sole treatment when used for relaxation or in the treatment of stress.

Unlike most of the other therapies in this section of our guide, massage therapy is mainstream, and has long had a role in both Eastern and Western medicine, including the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, Mesopotamia, and Rome. Today, massage is offered in specialized massage parlors or clinics, or as integrative medicine in alternative medicine programs and in conventional medical clinics and facilities.

Massage therapy reduces pain and muscle injuries and supports various health conditions. It is believed to reduce muscle tension, promote better circulation, support the immune system, reduce stress and anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep. It has also been used to heal faster from soft tissue injuries, reduce pain and swelling during pregnancy, relieve fibromyalgia symptoms, and relieve constipation.

Conventional research supports the use of massage therapy for back, neck, and shoulder pain, although it is more useful for acute pain and less effective at treating chronic pain.

In European countries, an individual who is trained professionally to give massages is known as a masseur or masseuse, depending on gender. In the United States, these individuals might also be known by these terms, but they are often called massage therapists when certified and licensed. In Canada, they are regulated as health professionals and called registered massage therapists.

Usually, clients are treated while lying on a massage table, sitting in a massage chair, or lying on a mat on the floor.

There are several techniques, the most common in Western countries being Swedish or classical massage. This is the core of most massage training programs. Other techniques or styles include deep tissue massage, hot stone massage, sports massage, clinical massage, prenatal massage, lymphatic drainage massage, and others.

Acupressure, Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Reflexology, and Shiatsu include massage elements but are covered in other parts of this guide.



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