What is Massage Therapy

Massage is believed to be one of the oldest forms of medical care, dating back to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Massage therapist vital role in healthcare was Universal in 2700BC. A Chinese book of internal medicine recommended "the massage of skin and flesh." 

Today, the term massage therapy is used to describe the manipulation of soft tissue - muscles, skin and/or tendons - by fingertips, hand, fists, elbow, and even feet. Bodywork is a general term of manual therapy techniques that involve touch and movement and are used to promote health and healing.

Almost a quarter of all American adults have received at least one massage in the past twelve months. The numbers continue to grow as more and more people discover the benefits of massage - for rehabilitation, relaxation, rejuvenation, and bodywork/manual therapy. 

WHAT to expect when receiving a massage?

Although no two massages are a like,there are some things that are universal. Sessions/Treatments generally take place in a quiet, comfortable treatment area. The massage room may be dimly lit and soothing music is often played. The practitioner (professional licensed massage therapist) will begin by asking questions, such as the reason you are seeking massage therapy, and injuries or medical conditions you may have, and any other information that may help them better serve you. The massage therapist will then excused herself/himself so you can undress to your level of comfort. You will then get on the table under the provided cover and relax, either face up or face down.

You will be draped at all times - only the area being worked on will be exposed(here at the wellness studio). A typical full body session/treatment includes your back, arms, legs, hands, head, neck, and shoulders, and sometimes feet. Oil or lotion is often used. 

When the massage is completed, the practitioner (professional licensed massage therapist) will leave the room so you can get dressed. It is highly recommended to sit up slowly and in the hours after your massage, drink plenty of water. Generally, a three day conscience effort of drinking water not only helps continue the flushing effects of the massage...it also aides in the relief of headache and/or muscle soreness as a result of a bodywork session/treatment. Also, drink a minimum of 1 bottle of water per every 30 minutes of massage is highly recommended for better flushing. There are many types of massage, so each experience varies.

What Are The Benefits of Massage Therapy

Many people think of massage therapy as a luxury, but massage is much more than simple relaxation. The therapeutic benefits of massage continue to be studied, but research has shown massage therapy to be effective in:

  • decreasing pain
  • reducing anxiety and stress
  • improving range of motion
  • decreasing carpal tunnel symptoms
  • reducing muscles soreness
  • boosting the immune system
  • lessening depression
  • relieving back pain
  • promoting tissue regeneration
  • easing  withdrawal symptoms
  • treating cancer-related fatigue
  • easing pain and stress
  • relieving migraine pain, and more
(The information and research mentioned about was provided by the National Certification Board of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork "Your Guide to Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork" 2011 Pamphlet)



Types of Massage 

deep tissue/

Sports massage

aimed at the deeper tissue structures of the muscles and fascia, also called connective tissue. Generally more intense pressure and cross-fiber friction  are applied by the therapist to release chronic muscle tension or knots (also known as "adhesions.")


uses essential oils derived from plants to affect your mood and alleviate pain. Typically essential oils are mixed with a carrier oil (i.e. grapeseed oil).

Essential Oils

...are a volatile, highly concentrated plant extracts, derived from leaves, bark, roots, seeds resin and/or flowers. They can also be used in: 

  • Hydrotherapy baths
  • Body treatments
  • At home treatment(s)


should not be confused with

  • Fragrances 
  • Perfume Oils

Just because someone lights a scented candle doesn't make it aromatherapy! Fragrances are ____ made from chemicals, and lack the therapeutic properties of essential oils.



hot stones

Specialty massage where the therapist uses smooth, heated stones as an extension of their own hands, or placing them on the body:

  • The heat, can be deeply relaxing
  • Warm up tight muscles, to allow deep work more quickly
  • Versions, lava stones, river rocks, warm stone, etc.

Hot stones takes a lot of skill and sensitivity on the part of the therapist. The quality of the treatment depends on how well the therapist has been trained, how skilled he/she is, and whether he/she enjoys doing the treatment. Be sure to speak up if the stones are too warm or the pressure too intense.


based on the Western concepts of anatomy and physiology, as opposed to energy work on the "meridians". Typically lighter pressure with a slower pace is used for relaxation goals. There is less emphasis on working out serious adhesions or "knots" in the muscles tissue.

Foundation for other types of Western massage, including sports massage, deep tissue massage, and aromatherapy massage.


Therapeutic Massage

did you know

Primarily a way to indicate to the client that the massage is for therapeutic purposes and health benefits.– Calling it "therapeutic massage" was part of the professionalization of massage therapy. It's a way to communicate that this treatment will be a massage for health.

Professional Massage– Is therapeutic, with real health benefits. The phrase "therapeutic massage" is also sometimes used to indicate that the massage will be a little more intense than a pure "relaxation massage" and perhaps deal with long-term or chronic issues.

Love to talk?– Think twice about that during any massage treatment. It keeps your mind active, inhibiting the relaxation and receiving response. Instead, focus on your breathing,...it can become a form of meditation for both you and the therapist, and you get a more mindful treatment.

Passive Stretching – Such as moving your arm over your dead to mobilize the joint.

To learn more about techniques and terms, refer to the glossary in the consumer section of NCBTMB'S website, www.ncbtmb.org


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