From Academic Kids

Massage is the practice of applying pressure or vibration to the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints. A form of therapy, massage can be applied to parts of the body or successively to the whole body, to heal injury, relieve psychological stress, manage pain, improve circulation and relieve tension. Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be termed "therapeutic massage therapy" or manipulative therapy. It is also a part of lovemaking for many couples (see erotic massage), and often takes place in the context of sex work.

In commercial settings, massage techniques involve the client being treated lying down on a massage table or in a massage chair, or on a mattress on the floor. Although the massage subject is generally unclothed, the body is "draped" with towels or sheets. This also helps keep the client warm. In some jurisdictions it is required that certain areas such as the genitals and gluteal crevice on both genders and the breast/nipple area on women be draped at all times. Due to the necessary physical contact between the practitioner and the client, sexual arousal is not uncommon, although in most forms of massage this is unintentional.

The treatment may start with the client face up or down for the first part of the session: the client then rolls over (draped by the towels or sheets) for the second half of the session.


Massage Basics


Good communication is essential to effective massage. In a commercial setting, the client is encouraged to communicate the type of treatment expected, for example relaxation or pain relief, full body massage or focus on a specific area, the amount of pressure that is comfortable, preferred techniques, and past medical history and current physical condition.


Most types of massage can be performed with pressure ranging from superficial to deep. The ideal amount for therapeutic massage is when the receiver experiences some discomfort ("hurts good"), which activates the body's natural healing response. If it is too deep, the result may be another trauma to the body. Some soreness after the massage is acceptable if it lasts less than one or two days, but if the soreness lasts longer, it usually means the massage was too deep. The temporary soreness, brought on bruising of soft tissue(contrary to belief of "toxins" being released), can often be avoided by drinking extra water after the massage.

Types of massage

There are well over 150 different types of massage therapy. Various styles of massage have developed from a number of sources.

Ancient Thai Massage

Also known as passive/assisted yoga or Thai bodywork, it is usually soothing because of its emphasis on stretching and loosening the body. It is also known as Ancient massage because its roots go back far into history, originating in India and then becoming popular in Thailand.

The massage taker changes into pajamas and lies on a firm mattress on the floor. (It can be done solo or in a group of a dozen or so patients in the same large room.) The massage giver leans on the taker's body using hands and forearms to apply firm rhythmic pressure to almost every part of the taker's body. In some gestures, legs and feet of the giver are used to fixate the body or limbs of the taker. In other gestures, hands fixate the body, while the feet do the massaging action. No oil is applied except sometimes to the patient's palms and soles. A full course of Thai massage lasts anywhere from one to two hours including pulling fingers, toes, ears etc., cracking the knuckles, walking on the patient's back, arching the patient's back in a rolling action etc. There is a standard procedure and rhythm to the massage. Sometimes in a large group massage, the practitioners do the procedures in unison.

Thai massage is a tourist attraction in Thailand and the practitioners are usually women. In some establishments, they sit inside a room with a large display window, so clients can pick the girl they like by the number tag on them. Some say the young and pretty women usually give a poorer massage than the more experienced older ones. A full massage in Thailand of typically two hours costs around THB 300 (US$ 8 in 2005) depending on location (it may cost ten times more inside a five star hotel).


Breema bodywork is performed on the floor with the recipient fully clothed. It consist of rhythmical and gentle leans and stretches which leads to deep relaxation, increased vitality, and stimulation of the self-healing processes of the body. Sessions can be any length of time, although 50 minutes is common. There are also self-Breema exercises. The essence of Breema is expressed in the Nine Principles of Harmony ( The Breema Center  ( is located in Oakland, California, and there are Breema practitioners and instructors ( in many locations around the world.

Chair Massage

A Chair Massage is by far, the most convenient method of massage therapy. Chair massage lasts about 15 minutes and is done while fully clothed. A chair massage promotes better circulation and muscle stimulation. This form of massage reduces tension in the back, neck and shoulders; thus providing deep relaxation. A swift chair massage revitalizes your anatomy and encourages overall well-being.

Chair massages are also advantageous, mostly because chair massage practitioners will sometimes pay work or housecalls. Chair massage can also be found in hotels, airports and even in convention centers.

Chinese Tui Na massage (推拿)

Tui Na is a form of Chinese massage (按摩) that is similar to Zhi Ya, but focusing more on pushing, pulling and kneading the muscle.

Chinese Zhi Ya massage (指壓)

Zhi Ya is a form of Chinese massage based on acupressure. It is similar to Tui Na massage except it focuses more on pinching and pressing at acupressure points.

Deep tissue massage

Deep tissue techniques are generally designed for more focused massage work. Working a specific joint, muscle or muscle group, the practitioner can access deeper layers of the soft tissue. Each person experiences pressure differently. Starting superficially and easing into the depth of the muscle slowly often allows more movement. If the pressure is applied too deeply or too quickly, the muscle may tighten to protect that area. Very little lubricant is used as the pressure doesn't travel much over the skin.

Erotic massage

Erotic massage is a form of massage that includes the genitals and leads to sexual arousal and (sometimes) relief. Widely practiced by couples as part of lovemaking. Also practiced commercially.

Foot or sole massage

Also known as reflexology, foot massage, as practiced by the Chinese is performed in the context of chi, in that each spot on the sole of the foot corresponds to an internal organ, and the applied therapy is healing to one's overall well being. The theory supposes that an ailment of an internal organ will be associated with the nerve ending on the sole of the foot.

Before the massage, the patient's feet are soaked for about ten minutes in a foot bath, typically a dark colored solution of hot water and Chinese herbs. The massage therapist uses liberal amounts of medicated cream, to moisturize the foot and to provide lubrication. The knuckles on the therapist's hand are usually used to provide a hard and smooth implement for the massage. As pressure is applied to the sole, theory holds that a healthy patient should not feel any strong pain. Painful spots, reflexologists believe, reflect illnesses of other parts of the body. The practitioner rubs and massages the painful spots to break down rough spots and accumulated crystals and increase circulation.

The ailments are healed when the sore spots of the sole are treated and removed by massage. Based on this theory, some shoe liners are made with pressure points to stimulate the soles of the feet to promote better health of the overall body. The nature of these "crystals" has yet to be elucidated or demonstrated scientifically. Regardless of the actual correlation of reflexology to internal organs, many enjoy it for the mix of stimulation and relaxation.

MA-URI massage

MA-URI is a new form of massage introduced by Hemi Hoani Fox in 1990, who cites as its roots Hawaiian Lomi-Lomi Nui dance, claiming increased so-called energy flow within the body and mind. Focus is internal, upon breathing, intent, and concentration. Claimed benefits include mental and physical health. Study and advocation is primarily carried out at the MA-URI Institute (, headed by Hemi and Katja Fox. It is currently difficult to find practitioners, though this may change as it grows more popular.

Myoskeletal Alignment Technique

Myoskeletal Alignment Technique (MAT) identifies postural distortions to improve and prevent pain conditions. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) and myofacial techniques are used to lengthen tight/facilitated muscles while fiber activation techniques tone weak/inhibited muscles. MAT was developed by Erik Dalton (

Neuromuscular Therapy

Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT) is used for pain relief and specific problems. Structural and postural imbalances are identified through an initial postural assessment. These are then addressed through systematic and site specific massage. NMT reduces pain, tension, postural imbalance, and lengthens and strengthens tissues. NMT was developed by Paul St. John.

Scalp massage

In some barber shops in Hong Kong, scalp massage often lasts 30 minutes to 45 minutes during shampooing of the hair.

Shiatsu (指圧)

Shiatsu is a form of Japanese massage based on acupressure. It is uncertain whether it originated from Chinese Zhi Ya.

Stone Massage

Massage in which hot or cold stones, usually basalt or marble, are used to massage the body.

Structural Muscular Balancing

A gentle and effective technique that releases chronic contraction in the muscles. The nervous system is triggered to release contractions through compression applied to muscles placed in a shortened position.

Swedish massage

This style utilizes long, flowing strokes, often but not necessarily in the direction of the heart. Swedish massage is designed to increase circulation and blood flow. There are six basic strokes: effleurage, petrissage, friction, tapotement, compression and vibration. Oil, cream, or lotion is applied on the skin to reduce friction and allow smooth strokes. This style of massage is generally attributed to the Swedish fencing master and gymnastics teacher Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839). However, it was in fact the Dutch practitioner Johan Georg Mezger (1838-1909) who adopted the French names to denote the basic strokes under which he systemized massage as we know it today, as Swedish or classic massage. Somehow, the term Swedish Movement System was transposed to Swedish Massage System sometime during the second half of the 19th century. Ling’s system was the Swedish Movement System or Swedish Gymnastic Movement System. This may be how he has become incorrectly associated for so long with Swedish massage. (See

Tantramassage (Tantric Massage)

Original Tantramassage is a new form of massage developed in the early 80's by Andro, Andreas Rothe an experienced Tantra and Bodywork Teacher in Berlin / Germany. The methode includes various massage techniques, elements from Bioenergetic, Yoga and Sexualtherapy. The word "Tantra" emphasizes the connection with the old Indian cultural background where the body is seen as the temple of the soul. Clients are in a passive role, supported by breathing techniques they experience a very deep and intense journey through their own body. Every Massage session lasts 90 Minutes or longer. The Tantramassage movement is very popular in Germany and Switzerland, some practitioners are organized in the Association of Tantramassage in Germany ( Detailed information about Tantramassage in English can be found here: Tantra & Massage ( Note: Original Tantramassage is not to be mixed up with prostitution, it does not include any kind of sexual exchange or sexual favors for money.

Trigger point therapy

A trigger point is an area of a muscle that refers pain sensations to other parts of the body. Trigger Point Therapy applies pressure to these points leading to immediate release of tension and improved muscular functioning. This work is based upon the trigger point research and manuals of Dr. Janet Travell.

Sometimes this work is incorporated into other styles of massage therapy such as neuromuscular therapy (NMT).

Massage therapist organizations


The Associated Bodywork and Massage professionals (ABMP) an international, for-profit, organization of Professional Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers.


The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) is the largest non-profit professional organization of massage therapists in the United States, although there are other professional organizations.


The Association of Massage Therapists and Wholistic Practitioners is the other national not-for-profit association for massage therapists in Canada. Its members are massage therapists and other touch therapists throughout Canada, working to support and promote those therapies.


The Canadian Massage Therapist Alliance is the national organization for massage therapists in Canada. It consists of all the members of the various provincial and territorial associations and works to promote and improve the profession.


The Canadian Sports Massage Therapist Association is the national, not-for-profit association for sports massage therapists working in Canada. It sets standards and provides certification for its members and also promotes the profession.


The National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB) is the only national certifying group of massage therapists in the United States. This is the test that professional massage therapists take in the US even if their states don't offer licensure, in an effort to demonstrate their knowledge. Over 25 U.S. states currently use it as a requirement for their state license as well. The certification earned by successful completion of the NCETMB exam produced by the NCBTMB is NCTMB.

See also

External links

cs:Masáže de:Massage es:Masaje fr:Massage id:Urut it:Massoterapia nl:Massage ms:Urut sv:Massage


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