About Massage

“Massage has had a positive effect on every medical condition we've looked at.”
–Tiffany Field, PhD
Touch Research Institute, University of Miami

Massage therapy has helped billions of people for over 4000 years.

People worldwide have used massage therapy for thousands of years to address a variety of health issues and to maintain overall body wellness.

Massage therapy has a wide range of benefits. Among others, it relaxes tired, overworked muscles, reduces muscle spasms and cramping, inhibits motor neuron excitability, alleviates pain, increases joint flexibility and improves range of motion, boosts immunity by increasing lymph flow, increases circulation, improves preparation and recovery for athletes, promotes tissue regeneration and decreases scar tissue, reduces post-surgery adhesions and swelling, and provides stress relief.

Massage therapy is a dynamic and integrated health care practice that manipulates superficial and deep layers of muscle and fascia (connective tissue) to enhance overall health and wellness. While therapists are typically licensed or registered in basic massage practice (Swedish massage), most study and add other modalities and therapies to their repertoires. These may include prenatal, infant, sports, deep tissue, medical massage, hot and/or cold stone massage, lymph drainage therapy, craniosacral therapy, aromatherapy, and Reflexology, among others.

The goals vary, depending upon the modality; however, all share the common goal to increase the general health and wellbeing of the client.

Massage therapy is a safe, natural, drug-free and effective way to assist your body in maintaining optimum muscular and skeletal system health and wellness, and to encourage other body systems toward homeostasis.

Massage Equipment

Massage tables
A typical commercial massage table has an easily cleaned, heavily padded surface, and a horseshoe-shaped face cradle that allows the client to breathe easily while lying face down. The table may be stationary or portable. Some tables are constructed so that one or the other end can be raised to elevate the upper or lower half of the body. Tables may also be purchased that are electrically raised and lowered. Several items may be used to assist with body positioning, such as bolsters, body pillows, and arm rests that attach to the side or under the face cradle.

Massage chairs
These chairs are ergonomic in design and allow a client to remain fully clothed while receiving massage to the back, shoulder, neck, head, and often the arms and hands.

Lubricant is necessary for skin to skin contact between the client and the massage professional. Oils, lotions, creams and gels have varying properties, and choice of what to use is largely the therapist's preference.

A stone massage uses cold or water-heated stones to apply pressure and heat to the body. Basalt stones (or lava rocks) which over time have become extremely polished and smooth are the most commonly used stones for hot stone massage.

Massage & Your Health

"The natural force within each one of us is the greatest healer of disease."

Health is wholeness and balance

The body has a natural tendency to seek health and wellness, and body systems often rally to aide one another in healing and maintaining wellness. Health is an inner resiliency that allows you to meet the demands of life. Being in a state of health helps you thrive in the face of environmental, physical, emotional and mental stress.

While often primarily targeting stressed and tired muscles, massage therapy enhances the function of all body systems, encouraging the whole body to seek and maintain health and equilibrium.

Massage Modalities

Massage therapists may use a variety of massage and body modalities to restore and maintain health.

Many clients simply want a relaxing massage. In the West, basic training for massage therapists is in Swedish massage, which combines a variety of techniques such as effleurage (gliding strokes), petrissage (kneading), friction, and tapotement (light percussion). Other massage modalities, typically learned through continuing education instructors, may encompass some, most, or all of the basic techniques, or draw on other skill sets.

Ashiatsu is a bodywork form that applies therapeutic pressure (through clothing) to promote health and well being. Although "Ashiatsu" literally means foot (ashi) pressure (atsu) in Japanese, ashiatsu techniques also make use of knees, elbows, palms, and fingers where necessary and appropriate.

Chair Massage
Performed with the client fully clothed in a chair designed for the purpose. Massage sessions are short (10-20 minutes) and typically target the head, neck, shoulders and back.

Craniosacral therapy
Developed by Dr. John Upledger. It is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases restrictions in soft tissue and tension deep in the body to relieve pain and improve health.

Using glass cups to create a vacuum in order to increase warmth and circulation. Cupping can be very effective for relieving pain in Fibromyalgia sufferers.

Deep Tissue Massage
A category of massage therapy set apart from other modalities and used to treat specific skeletal and muscular disorders and complaints. It may employ both a dedicated set of techniques that are intended to achieve a measure of relief and/or a slow, deep penetration of the deeper layers using standard massage strokes.

The traditional massage of Hawaii, it combines massage with sacred Shamanic principles and energy awareness.

Lymph Drainage Therapy
A gentle, hands-on approach to assist proper flow of lymphatic fluid and reduce localized swelling.

Rolfing or Structural Integration
A technique discovered by Dr. Ida Rolf, which reorganizes connective tissues in the body.

Sports massage
Massage combined with assisted stretching geared toward the athlete's sport (or sports) of choice, focuses on the muscle groups that are most associated and stressed after working out. Each session is targeted to meet the unique needs of the client based upon his or her physical activity. The client often remains clothed.

Thai massage
A system of massage and assisted stretching developed in Thailand, and influenced by the traditional medicine systems of India, China, and Southeast Asia. It is often performed on the floor with the client dressed in comfortable clothes that allow for movement.

Trigger Point Therapy
Discovered and mapped by Dr. Janet Travell, TPT involves deactivating trigger points in muscles that refer pain to other areas of the body.

A hands-on body treatment that uses Chinese Taoist and martial arts principles in an effort to bring the eight principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine into balance. The practitioner may brush, knead, roll/press, and rub the areas between each of the joints, known as the eight gates, to attempt to open the body's defensive (wei) chi and get the energy moving in the meridians and the muscles.

Clinical Success

Massage therapists have experienced clinical success with a variety of health concerns.

Massage therapists have struggled to gain respect and acceptance among the medical community. While massage therapy has traditionally been regarded as a "fluff therapy" or a luxury, it is gradually gaining acceptance as a respected, valid and effective form of health care that complements traditional medical treatments.

Most people think about massage therapy as a way to relax tired muscles, but are unfamiliar with the many modalities that address a variety of pain and structural issues, such as rolfing, craniosacral therapy, trigger point therapy, and medical massage.

Massage therapy and modern medicine, when used together, have the potential to support, strengthen and nurture the body towards health and well-being.

Various massage therapy modalities are effective in alleviating a variety of conditions. Some of these are listed below:

  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Back pain
  • Burns
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Digestive trouble
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Headache
  • Lymph blockage
  • Migraine
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Pain associated with Fibromyalgia
  • Pain associated with menstruation
  • Post-operative pain
  • Pre-operative anxiety
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Sciatica
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stress
  • Swelling
  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD)
  • Tennis elbow


Is massage therapy safe?
The simple answer to this question is yes! It has been used for over 4000 years to help billions of people manage a variety of health issues such as reducing pain and relieving stress.

Does massage therapy hurt?
When properly administered, massage therapy should not be overly painful to the client. When massage therapists encounter tight and stressed muscles and employ techniques to help relax and work out the tightness, the client may feel some discomfort. Clients will often feel mild discomfort the following day as well. This has been described by clients as "hurts so good"--a recognition that the accompanying pain is mild and temporary, of a different and preferred caliber from the original pain complaint, and part of the process of assisting the body to release tension and soreness.

How many treatments will I need?
Each client, complaint and modality is unique. Often, the length of treatment depends on how long the condition has been present and how quickly the client's body responds to treatment. Generally, clients respond more quickly when experiencing an acute muscular or skeletal condition rather than a chronic one.

In a nutshell, massage therapy is a safe, natural, effective treatment for a variety of disorders and complaints!