Massage therapy, the manual manipulation of soft tissue intended to promote health and well-being, has a history extending back several thousand years. Massage was a part of many ancient cultures including that of the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, Indians, Japanese, and Romans, and was often considered to be a medicinal practice.
Swedish massage is the most common form of massage in US, although it is not a pure form of therapy because most therapists integrate Swedish massage with other forms of touch therapy, such as acupressure. Swedish massage usually is given on a massage table, on the floor, or on a special massage chair and often with oil (vegetable or some aromatic oil). These oils are stroked and kneaded on all parts of the body. Smooth stroking and kneading-type movements are done up and down the back and across the shoulder muscles and the neck muscles and the backs of the legs, feet, arms, and hands (Massage 2004).
Interest in massage therapy has continued to grow among the scientific community and consumers. Currently, in US massage therapy is one of the fastest growing sectors of the expanding CAM therapy movement. Visits to massage therapists increased 36% between 1990 and 1997, with consumers now spending $4-6 billion annually for massage therapy , in pursuit of benefits such as improved circulation, relaxation, feelings of well-being, and reductions in anxiety and pain (Massage; 2012).
Articles concerned with sports performance, exercise recovery, and injury management highlight the possibility that massage therapy may speed healing and reduce pain. The manipulations and pressure of massage therapy may break down subcutaneous adhesions and prevent fibrosis and promote circulation of blood and lymph, processes that may lead to reductions in pain associated with injury or strenuous exercise. The pressure applied to the body by massage therapy is thought to trigger certain physiological responses that ultimately result in beneficial outcomes (Massage theory; 2002).