Massage is the practice of applying structured pressure or vibration- manually or with mechanical aids- to the soft tissues of the body, including muscles, connective tissue, tendons, ligaments, and joints, to achieve a beneficial response. 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 stress. Where massage is used for its physical and psychological benefits, it may be termed "therapeutic massage therapy" or manipulative therapy.
A Massage Therapist assesses clients by conducting range of motion and muscle testing and propose treatment plans; treats soft tissue and joints of the body through soft tissue manipulation, hydrotherapy, remedial exercise programs and client self help programs; provides courses of treatment for medical conditions and injuries or wellness maintenance; maintains records of treatments given; and may work with other healthcare professionals as part of a team that facilitates an environment that promotes health and overall wellness.
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 may be "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 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. Massage can also be a part of lovemaking for many couples (see erotic massage), and often takes place in the context of sex work.
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.
Deep muscle therapy is a massage technique that focuses on using a very specific set of movements applied to all muscles and concentrating on all layers of the muscle that have become depleted of their regular blood and lymphatic flow. This technique aims to restore the circulation with its healing properties to the cellular level. Deep muscle therapy is widely used to treat the following ailments: carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back pain, headaches, poor circulation, whiplash, and more.
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. Starting superficially and easing into the depth of the muscle slowly often allows more movement. This is the recommended approach in this modality since each person experiences pressure differently. If the pressure is applied too deeply or too quickly, the muscle may tighten to protect that area, and unnecessary damage or inflammation can be induced. Very little lubricant is used as the pressure doesn't travel much over the skin.