Massage therapy is the manipulation of the soft tissues (primarily muscle and connective tissue) of the body. It strives to achieve balance and health in the body by affecting the body's systems.
Almost every documented ancient civilization and modern society has variations of massage therapy, that is, therapeutic interventions based on the rubbing and kneading of muscles.
In North America, massage therapy was originally associated with Swedish massage, developed by several people in Europe based on exercise, tests, and observation.
While most practitioners are still trained in basic Swedish massage techniques, there a variety of many other musculoskeletal and myofascial techniques that have been integrated into the practice of massage therapy over the years.
Treatment varies widely, depending on the type of massage specialty used.
Practitioners relax, release stress, or gently tone muscle. Stretching can be used to enhance or maintain the work. Trigger point work and myofascial work release tension, stress, scarring, or restriction in the complex myofascial network of the body.
Joint and muscle balancing techniques are used to maximize range of motion and reduce stress or unevenness in motion. Topical agents are sometimes used to further enhance the effects or to assist with general relaxation or stimulation.
Many of the effects of different types of massage treatment approaches have been identified as effective in treating acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Massage can significantly accelerate the healing process by having a positive affect on the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
A level of training that includes every competency component needed to safely and appropriately apply the treatment.
An additional treatment that first requires the practitioners to be trained in an appropriate related discipline.