With so many modern medical advances, it has been easy to lose sight of many proven, natural, old-world techniques like massage therapy; as those advances continue to move forward, as a culture we often revert back to the more natural, well-proven techniques for health management and healing. On of the most proven methods of boosting health and healing is massage therapy.

What Is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is an umbrella term that is used in reference to a number of bodywork techniques which promote healing and relaxation (and healing through relaxation). Massage has roots in ancient cultures (as far back as 3,000 years ago in China); due to the extensive benefits of Massage therapy, it has become a mainstay of many mainstream medical and physical treatments. Massage is no longer considered “quack” therapy, and is gaining in popularity by the day.

Massage, in its most general sense, refers to rubbing and manipulation of the body. It may be performed on target areas of the body, or a session may include the whole body.

The basic techniques employed in massage therapy include:

• Rubbing of muscles, soft tissues, and joints
• Manipulation of joints, muscles, and soft tissues
• Touch therapies, re-patterning, and movement of body structures
• Stroking
• Kneading
• Tapping/light thumping
• Compression
• Vibration
• Applying pressure

Each of these techniques are used in different ways and combinations, comprising the more than 250 types of massage therapy. These therapies are known by many different names, including Swedish massage, bodywork, touch therapy, reflexology, sports massage, somatic therapy, acupressure, sports massage, and neuromuscular massage. Some massage therapists will specialize in one specific type, or modality, of massage; others are capable of performing a range of massage therapies. Each massage therapist will tailor therapy sessions toward the specific needs and goals of a client to achieve the optimal result.

Massage therapists use a number of products and supplies to further enhance the benefits and comfort of a massage therapy session. These include tables, oils, creams, and lotions, as well as aromatherapies. The most effective tool of all used during a massage is the skilled set of hands of the massage therapist.

Massage has proven an incomparable physical therapy with far-reaching medical and physical benefits. The benefits of massage have been linked to numerous health conditions ranging from circulatory dysfunctions to stress related illness and sports injuries. As medical professionals and individuals have increasingly come to realize that pharmaceuticals are not the only option for treating ailments and injuries, the demand for skilled massage therapists has grown dramatically. Today, massage therapy is being recognized as both a supplemental and independent health treatment as well as a means of preventing illness and injury.