Massage Therapy

By Sahar Azami | Last reviewed on September 6, 2019
Reviewed by Ralph Miller, MA, BS, CCHT, RMT, CYT, CPLC.

If you suffer from any of the conditions that massage therapy has been shown to be effective, you may want to consider getting regular massage treatment.

What is Massage Therapy?

Massage therapy is a form of soft tissue manipulation. During a massage therapy session, a massage therapist will utilize a variety of physical manipulation techniques to help improve physical function, increase blood flow, and promote healing.

Types of Massage Therapy

There are many types of massage to choose from. These include:

  1. Bowen Therapy
  2. Equine massage
  3. Hot Stone Massage
  4. Neuromuscular massage
  5. Oriental massage
  6. Myofascial Release
  7. Sports Massage
  8. Swedish Massage
  9. Tantric massage
  10. Trigger Point Therapy

How Does Massage Work?

Massage is manual in nature. A therapist will physically manipulate soft tissue to increase blood flow and improve well being.

What is Massage Used For?

Wondering if you could benefit from a massage? Massage may be used to help a variety of conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Joint pain
  • Low back pain
  • Migraines
  • Muscle tension
  • Nausea (especially from Chemotherapy)
  • Pain
  • Sleep issues
  • Stress

Benefits of Massage

The benefits of massage range from an increased range of motion and reduced sensation of pain to lower blood pressure and reduced headache frequency.

In addition, seniors may uniquely benefit from massage, as do athletes. Here are some of the benefits of massage:

  • Reduced sensation of pain (including low back pain, neck pain, joint pain, arthritis, headaches, muscle pain, back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis)
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced frequency of headaches and migraines
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved range of motion

Side Effects

Side effects may include muscle soreness or bruising depending on the level of pressure your therapist uses. Be sure to communicate with your therapist during the treatment about the pressure being used. You may always ask for more or less pressure from your therapist.


There are some cases where massage therapy may not be the best choice. These include instances where you’ve broken a bone or incurred some other serious injury, where massage therapy could make the injury worse.

In addition, skin conditions can be a concern because of the friction against the skin during treatment. Therefore, burns, lesions, rashes, or other skin conditions could be a contraindication for massage.

Other conditions such as arthritis, cancer, fibromyalgia, osteoporosis may benefit from massage, but you’ll want to work with your doctor to assure you’re not doing any damage. So be sure to consult your physician before seeking a massage therapist. Some therapists have specialized training to help them work with patients dealing with specific medical conditions. Be sure to ask your therapist and let them know what your condition is.

What to Expect

Massage therapy is usually performed without clothing. Expect to disrobe fully for your session. You will be draped to protect your modesty. Massage therapists utilize a variety of oils and lotions to help facilitate your massage. Be sure to ask if you are sensitive to particular oils, lotions, or smells!

Your therapist may also play light, relaxing music. Some therapists will take requests if the music is not to your liking. Although most sessions of massage are full-body (meaning the therapist will work on you from head to toes), you may also schedule sessions that work on specific areas. For example, just your back or just your neck and shoulders. These focused sessions allow a therapist to focus on these areas for longer periods and work deeper into your tissue to help alleviate issues in your muscles.

How to Find a Massage Therapist

Take a look at our massage therapist page to find a massage therapist near you. Here are some questions to ask a massage therapist.

Massage Therapist Qualifications

Most states and some cities have regulations on who can practice massage therapy. Make sure your therapist has the proper credentials before you hire them.