Massage therapists use long, smooth strokes, kneading and other movements focused on superficial layers of muscle using massage oil or lotion.
Massage therapy improves circulation by bringing oxygen and other nutrients to body tissues. It relieves muscle tension and pain, increases flexibility and mobility, and helps clear lactic acid and other waste, which reduces pain and stiffness in muscles and joints.
People get massage therapy for relaxation or for a variety of health conditions:
- Back pain
- Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and tendonitis
- Stress relief and stress-related conditions
- Headaches and migraines
- Muscle and related conditions such as spasms, strains and sprains
- Repetitive strain injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
- Circulatory and respiratory problems
- Post-injury and post surgical rehabilitation
Massage therapy relieves stress. It is thought to help the body's stress response by lowering levels of hormones such as cortisol. Massage therapy also appears to enhance immune function.1
1: About.com - Massage Therapy: http://altmedicine.about.com/od/treatmentsmtoq/a/massage.htm