An Introduction to Massage
A good definition
for Massage Therapy is, the art or practice of applying
unstructured or structured motion, pressure, tension, or
vibration either manually or with the use of mechanical
aids. This would be applied to the soft tissues of the
body, which would include the muscles, tendons, ligaments,
connective tissue, joints, lymphatic vessels, reproductive
system, and organs of the gastrointestinal system, all
with the goal of achieving a beneficial response to the
Massage Therapy is usually performed by a professional
Massage Therapist, but can often be used as a form of therapy
by other Healthcare practitioners including Chiropractors,
Physical Therapists, and Osteopaths.
Massage can either be applied to parts of the body, or
successively to the whole body. This is done to aid
the process of injury healing, manage pain, relieve
psychological stress, and improve circulation. When
massage is used for its mental, physiological, and
mechanical benefits, it may be termed "therapeutic massage" or
another term is manipulative therapy.
Massage can also be an important part of lovemaking
(see the section about erotic
Massage, when done in a professional setting, will
involve the client being treated while sitting upright in
a massage chair, lying on a massage table, or with
the client lying on a pad placed on the floor.
Except for modalities such as Tui Na, Thai Massage,
Acupressure, Shiatsu, or Barefoot Deep Tissue Massage, the
massage client will generally be unclothed or at
least partially unclothed. This can also be referred to as
disrobed. Their body would then be "draped" with towels or
This practice of covering the parts of the clients body that
are not involved in the massage is referred to as
draping. This practice varies greatly from one part of the
world to another. It is felt that the practice of draping makes
a statement about the practitioners professionalism, and
also provides a boundary for the massage
Massage Terms and
Massage helps to relax the
muscles, even between sessions.
The muscles are warmed up and
the increased blood flow helps the body remove
lactic acid and other things that make the
muscles feel stiff.
This is also why it is very
important to start any massage with long, slow
stroking motions at pressure so that the blood
can begin to flow to the muscles faster.
Draping also helps keep the client warm, as well as aids in
the clients relaxation response. Some countries do require that
certain areas of the body, such as the genital
regions on both genders be draped, and also require
that the breast/nipple area on female clients be
The United States is one country which has adopted
draping as a standard of the profession. While in some
parts of Europe, as well as other parts of the world, you
will find draping is not practiced at all.