Massage therapy is used to help manage a health condition or improve well-being. It involves manipulating the soft tissues of the body. Massage has been practiced in most cultures, both Eastern and Western, throughout human history, and was one of the first tools people used to try to relieve pain. According to the AMTA Consumer Survey, 67 percent of people surveyed say their primary reason for receiving a massage in the past 12 months was medical (41 percent) or stress-related (26 percent).
In states that regulate massage therapy (45 states and the District of Columbia), therapists must obtain a license or certification before practicing massage. Massage therapy can be beneficial to anyone, but it has been shown to help those suffering from a variety of conditions, including cancer, heart disease, stomach problems, and fibromyalgia. There have been several studies, some that say that massage therapy does not improve cancer pain and others that show a positive impact. These studies looked at different types of massage and different types of headache, and their results are not consistent.
Sports massages are similar to deep-tissue massages, but they focus on muscles that take a beating when you're doing sports or doing other repetitive physical activity. In addition, the squeezing, twisting and pulling action of the massage technique also removes lactic acid from muscle tissues. Several evaluations of massage for low back pain have found only weak evidence that it may be helpful. Prenatal massages are great for helping expectant mothers relax and can help address the aches and pains of growing a baby.
Massage therapy may be helpful for neck or shoulder pain, but the benefits may only last a short time. Based on sleep, memory and mood, studies have shown that using massage over the course of five weeks can improve symptoms of fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that causes muscle and joint pain and fatigue. In massage therapy, a certified and trained medical professional (massage therapist) manipulates the soft tissues of the muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and skin of the body. Once considered as an alternative or fringe approach, massage therapy is now much more popular and growing in popularity.
Some of the reported cases have involved vigorous types of massage, such as deep tissue massage, or patients who may be at increased risk of injury, such as older people. In fact, improving posture can be one of the most beneficial and relaxing aspects of massage therapy.