Massage involves acting and manipulating the patient's body with pressure (structured, unstructured, stationary, and/or moving), tension, motion, or vibration done manually or with mechanical aids. Target tissues may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, joints, or other connective tissue, as well as lymphatic vessels, and/or organs of the gastrointestinal system. Massage can be applied with the hands, fingers, elbows, forearm, and feet. There are over eighty different massage modalities. The most cited reasons for introducing massage was patient demand and perceived clinical effectiveness.
Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include pain relief, reduced trait anxiety and depression, and temporarily reduced blood pressure, heart rate, and state anxiety.Theories behind what massage might do include blocking pain signals to the brain (gate control theory), activating the parasympathetic nervous system which may stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin, preventing fibrosis or scar tissue, increasing the flow of lymph, and improving sleep but such effects are yet to be supported by well designed clinical studies.
Massage can be performed by a professional Massage Practitioner, or by other health care professionals, such as Chiropractors, Osteopaths, Athletic trainers, and/or Physical Therapists. Massage therapists work in hospitals as allied health professioners, in nursing homes, sports and fitness facilities, spas, beauty salons, cruise ships, private offices, and travel to private residences or businesses. Contraindications to massage include, deep vein thrombosis, bleeding disorders or taking blood thinners such as Warfarin, damaged blood vessels, weakened bones from cancer, osteoporosis, or fractures, and fever.
In professional settings, massage involves the client being treated while lying on a massage table, sitting upright in a massage chair, or lying on a pad on the floor. Except for modalities such as Acupressure, Shiatsu, Tui Na, Thai Massage, or Barefoot Deep Tissue, the massage subject is generally unclothed or partially unclothed, also referred to as disrobed, and their body would be "draped" with towels or sheets.